The exchange visitor (J) nonimmigrant visa category for persons who are approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States.
The J visa covers a wide range of category of visitors including physicians, university professors and scholars, professional interns, students, au pairs, camp counselors, and summer work/travel visitors. All of these visas have different requirements and conditions. Your brother may qualify for one of these.
We will summarize the general requirements and procedures here.
Unlike other visas, the J visa requires a pre-approval process conducted by outside agencies certified by the Department of State under the Exchange Visitor Program as “sponsors”. Before you can apply at an American Embassy or Consulate for a J visa, you must apply, meet the requirements, and be accepted for one of the Exchange Visitor Program categories through a designated sponsoring organization. These “program sponsors” charge a fee for handling the process. These sponsors are separate and apart from any business or academic institution or other employer who may be providing the training.
Generally, all sponsoring organizations have an application form and process which they use for all exchange visitors. The application procedure differs depending on the type of visa applied for.
Applicants for a J visa must demonstrate that they properly meet the requirements to be issued an exchange visitor visa, including the following:
- That they plan to remain in the U.S. for a temporary, specific, limited period;
- That they have funds to cover expenses in the United States;
- That they have compelling social and economic ties abroad; and other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.
The Program Sponsor issues the exchange visitor applicants a Form DS 2019 which the applicant submits to the Embassy when they are applying for their exchange visitor visa. An interview at the embassy consular section is required. Early visa application is strongly encouraged. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide is available on the Department of State website, and on most embassy websites. If you are authorized by your program sponsor to be accompanied by your spouse and children, they will also be given a Form DS-2019 and they can apply at the same time.
The J1 visa is valid for various lengths of time, depending on the type of visa involved. Au Pair visas are typically for two years. Internship visas can be valid for up to 18 months. Many college students come to the US on four-month “work and travel” J1 visas. Once the visa period is over, the individual has an extra 30 days of grace period or travel time before being required to return to the United States. It is sometimes possible to change from a J1 visa to another type of visa at the end of the visa validity period.
The J1 is a relatively easy way for young persons to come and train in the U.S. for relatively short periods of time.