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US J Visa for Scientists and Researchers

The exchange visitor visa, also known as the J-1 visa is designed for individuals who intend to engage in programs involving conducting researching, lecturing, studying, teaching, observing, receiving graduate or medical training, etc.

Exchange programs that are created by the United States Department of State sponsor J-1 nonimmigrants. The purpose of these exchange programs is to promote the skills and knowledge of individuals within the fields of science, arts, and education.

A few of the many examples of exchange visitors include:

  • Teachers
  • Scholars
  • Research assistants
  • Students
  • Specialists
  • Trainees
  • Au Pairs
  • Camp counselors

-Employment in the US

  • Some J-1 nonimmigrant visa holders intend to work upon arrival to the United States, and some do not. Under the terms of the specific exchange program that you are sponsored under, employment is authorized for J-1 visa holders.

-Spouse and Children of J-1 Nonimmigrants

  • Unmarried children under the age of 21 and your spouse are entitled to the classification of J-2 and authorization of employment. However, you may not use their income within their individual employment to support yourself.
  • Your child or spouse would need to file an Application for Employment Authorization, in order to apply for employment authorization as a J-2 nonimmigrant.

-Period of Stay

  • The period of stay varies from case to case depending on the type of exchange visitor that you identify as and how long the activity may take.
  • After completing the activity of your J-1, you and J-2 dependents are entitled to an additional 30-day period stay in the United States.
  • Seven years is typically the maximum period of stay despite certain circumstances or exceptions.
  • For example, industrial or business trainees may be granted a maximum stay of 18-months under the J-1 visa.
  • If you or a J-2 dependent overstay your visa for at least six months or longer, you will be unable to return to the United States for three years.
  • If you or a J-2 dependent overstay your visa for over a year, you will be unable to return to the United States for ten years.
  • You may begin the marriage based green card holder process as a J-1 of J-2 visa holder which allows your period of overstaying to be waived only if you are married to a U.S. citizen.

-Home Residency Requirement

  • Some J-1 visa holders are subjected to a two-year home residency requirement which requires physical presence. At least two years after your specific exchange visitor program, it requires you to return home.
  • You must apply for a waiver if you are unable to return home for two years. Before receiving a visa in a different subsector or changing any status within the US, The Department of Homeland Security must approve your waiver which will take an additional period of time on a case-by-case basis.
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