The J-1 exchange visitor visa program allows people from other countries to come to California for limited periods to participate in specific programs. This program allows visitors to come to the U.S. to work as camp counselors, au pairs, specialists, or teachers. It also allows students to study in the U.S. at approved institutions. The Department of State is responsible for designating private and public entities to sponsor exchange visitors.
Applying for a J-1 visa
People who want to apply for a J-1 visa should start by looking at the Department of State’s website to find programs that sponsor J-1 visa holders. Once they find an entity that is willing to sponsor them, they will be given a Form DS-2019, which is a certificate showing that they are eligible for J-1 exchange visitor status. The people who receive the DS-2019 will then be allowed to apply for J-1 visas at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home countries.
Working on a J-1 visa
J-1 exchange visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas. People who have this type of visa are only authorized to work within their exchange visitor programs. Some J-1 visa programs do not provide work, and the visa holders are not allowed to work outside of their programs. If they do, they risk being deported and barred from reentering the U.S. Spouses and minor, unmarried children under the age of 21 can accompany J-1 visa holders on J-2 visas to the U.S. J-2 visa holders are allowed to seek employment authorization documents and to work during their stays. However, the income that they earn cannot be used for the support of the J-1 visa holder.
The J-1 exchange visitor program allows people from other countries to come to the U.S. for training and cultural exchange. Since J-1 visas are nonimmigrant visas, people are expected to return to their home countries once their exchange visitor programs are over. People who are interested in the J-1 visa program may want to talk to immigration law attorneys to learn more about it and what is required to secure a J-1 visa.