The J-1 visa category facilitates educational and cultural exchange programs. It enables the sharing of human resources, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts and sciences in the United States. Beneficiaries of this visa include students, trainees involved in on-the-job training, teachers engaged in research and teaching, as well as international visitors who plan to travel, conduct research, provide consultancy, and share a specific form of knowledge.
Do I Qualify for a J-1 Visa?
You need to fulfill the following conditions to qualify for J-1. You should have:
· Sufficient funds to cover all expenses or a sponsoring organization that will provide full support
· The required education for the particular program
· A good understanding of the English language, or participate in a program for non-English speakers
Additional requirements for Medical Education Participants
If you are seeking to participate in a medical education or research program, you:
· Must have passed the FMGEMS
· Must have demonstrated competency in English
And you are subject to:
· Limits on duration of program
· A two-year foreign residence requirement
Exception: The two year foreign residence requirement does not apply to physicians coming to the U.S. for observation, research, teaching and consultation where there is minimal or no patient care.
What Are the Key Documents for J-1 Visa?
· Form OF-156, completed and signed
· A passport with a validity of at least six months from the end of the intended stay
· One photograph 1.5 inches square with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
· Completed IAP-66 prepared by a designated sponsoring organization.
· Demonstrable ties to a residence in a foreign country; and
· Promise/statement that they are coming to the United States for a temporary period.
How to apply?
You should apply for a J-1 Visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence. Although may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, you are advised to apply at a consulate in your home country or country of residence. Remember to bring all of the required documents listed above for your interview.
Can I Accept Employment While I Am On J-1 Status?
You may accept employment if your program involves paid employment like on-the-job training, teaching, research or other similar activities. The particular nature of your program determines your employment options, however.
What Is a J-1 Visa Waiver?
The Foreign Residency Requirement may be waived in the following cases:
· If your home country’s government issues a “no objection” letter to the U.S. State Department indicating that it does not object to the waiver grant.
· An Interested Government Agency may request that the US State Government waive the Foreign Residency Requirement. In such cases, both the US State Department and the USCIS must agree to grant the waiver.
· If a foreigner subject to the residency requirement can establish that s/he will suffer persecution upon return to the home country, the foreign residency requirement will be waived. The threat of persecution has to be based on race, religion, or political opinion.
· If the foreigner can prove that his/her spouse or child (who is a US Citizen or permanent resident) would be put to exceptional hardship. Examples of such difficult circumstances entail, for example, a break in medical treatment or a war/riot-torn country.
· If a designated State Health Agency or its equivalent requested a waiver on behalf of a medical doctor who has been offered a full-time job with a health care facility serving an area with a shortage of medial professionals. Such doctors, however, should commit, in writing, to work for 40 hours a week for a minimum of 3 years. The doctor must begin work within 90 days of the approval of the waiver.
Online Option: You may now complete and print your J Visa Waiver Recommendation Application (Form DS-3035) online. Sign up for a case number at the USCIS website and you can immediately start the process of the J Visa Waiver or advisory opinion process. All J-1 visa waiver recommendation applications, however, are subject to security checks before the Department of State issues its recommendation to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security
What Are the Fees for A J-1 Visa Waiver?
You are required to pay a processing fee of US$215.00. Be warned that the processing fee is NON-REFUNDABLE. Cashier’s check or money order must be made payable to the U.S. Department of State.
Mail the fee to:
US Department of State
Waiver Review Division
P. O. Box 952137
St. Louis, MO 63195-2137
US Department of State
Waiver Review Division
1005 Convention Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63101-1200
You must write the following information on the cashier’s check or money order:
1. Waiver case number, if known
3. Date and place of birth, and
4. Social security number
Can I Bring My Family?
You can bring your spouse and unmarried children under the age 21 either with you or at a later date. As your dependants, they will be issued a J-2 visa. They must:
· Present your form IAP-6 as well as other basic documentation;
· Demonstrate the availability sufficient financial resources to support themselves while in the United States.
Can My Spouse Work?
Your J-2 dependents may work in the United States for either the duration of your J-1 or for up to four years. Be reminded that the J-2′s income cannot be used to support J-1.