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J-1 Visa/Status – Exchange Visitors

Basic Requirements:
J-1 Visa/Status is available to foreign students, teachers, scholars, summer travel/work for students, au pairs, camp counselors, experts, medical interns and residents and industrial and business trainees, and others participating in Exchange-Visitor Programs, for purpose of gaining experience, studying or doing research in their field.  A sponsor must first obtain from the Department of State designation as an Exchange-Visitor Program and be assigned a program number.  In addition, the exchange visitor must maintain a foreign residence and must not have an intention of abandoning such residence.

Two Years Foreign Residence Requirement:
Some exchange visitors are subject to a two year foreign residence requirement once their stay in the U.S. pursuant to their exchange visit is completed.  Those subject to this requirement are not allowed to obtain permanent residency or nonimmigrant visas or status in H or L categories until they either spend two years in their home country or country of their last residence or obtain a waiver of this requirement.  Those individuals in fields that appear on the Skills List for their country maintained by the Department of State and those individuals who received U.S. or home country Government funding are typically subject to the two year foreign residence requirement.  In addition, exchange visitors receiving graduate medical education or training are subject to the foreign residence requirement.  Waivers of the two years foreign residence requirement may be available and is discussed more fully below.

Duration of Stay:
The duration of stay granted to J-1 visa holders varies depending on the exchange visitor categories.

Students: Secondary school students may be admitted for one year period.    College and university students may be admitted for the anticipated length of their academic program.  In addition college and university students may receive authorization to engage in training after completing their degree programs.

Teachers: Primary and Secondary school teachers may be admitted for a three year period.  College and University Professors and Research Scholars are granted a maximum period of five years.

Short Term Scholars: Short Term Scholars may be admitted for a period of six months.

Foreign Medical Graduates: Foreign doctors participating in U.S. internships and residences may be admitted for the length of their program, up to usually seven years.

Trainees and Interns: Trainees in most occupations may be admitted for eighteen months.  However, individuals in Hospitality and Tourism industries are only admitted for twelve months unless they receive training in management.  Interns may participate in internship programs as long as they maintain student status or begin a new internship program within twelve months of graduation.

Specialists: Specialists may be admitted for a period of one year.

Au Pairs: Au Pairs may be admitted for a period of one year.

Camp Counselors and Summer student workers/travelersCamp Counselors and Summer student workers and travelers may be admitted for a period of four months.

Government Visitors: Government Visitors may be admitted for a period of eighteen months.

The Department of State may extend beyond the usual program maximum duration of stay for each category if adequate justification is given.

Family Members:
Spouse and children (under 21 and not married) are eligible to obtain J-2, which is a derivative status.  They are allowed to accompany the J-1 Exchange Visitor and remain in the United States.  J-2 spouses and children may accept employment once they receive employment authorization.  To obtain such authorization, the J-2 spouses and/or children must apply for the authorization and receive approval.  They must also show that their compensation is not needed to financially support the J-1 visa/status holder. 

Fees for the J-1 Status Change Application:

The following is the attorney’s fee that the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC charges for a extension of this status when filed in the United States at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) (please read the disclaimer at the top of this page) and the filing fee currently charged by US Citizenship and Immigration Service (US CIS):

$1,225.00 attorney’s fees for the principal beneficiary petition
$   290.00 US CIS filing fee
$   200.00 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) SEVIS Fee  $1,000.00 US CIS filing fee for premium processing (optional)

Waiver of the Two Years Foreign Residence Requirement:
There are many types of waivers of the two years foreign residence requirement.  The following are waivers available to exchange visitors:

No-Interest Waiver – This waiver is granted based on a statement to the Department of State from the J-1 visa holder’s Government of Nationality or last foreign residence that it has no objection to a waiver of the foreign residence requirement applicable to the exchange visitor.  Physicians who received medical education or training under the J-1 program are not eligible for this waiver.  For non-physicians this waiver is typically the most commonly used waiver.  However, if U.S. Government fund was received then this waiver his typically denied.

Interested Government Agency Waiver – This waiver is granted upon the request of an Interested Government Agency (IGA).  The IGA waiver must be submitted to the Department of State by a U.S. Government Agency stating that it believes that the exchange visitor’s departure from the United States would be detrimental to a program or activity of official interest to the agency. If an exchange visitor is either employed or funded by a US Government Agency, that Agency may be the most appropriate agency to request the IGA waiver.  If the exchange visitor is not employed or funded by a US Government Agency, then an Agency with interest over the exchange visitor’s work will likely be the most appropriate.  Physicians who will work in medically underserved areas may be able to obtain sponsorship from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or from the appropriate State Health Department under the Conrad Program.

Hardship to Family Member(s) Waiver – Hardship waivers are available if exceptional hardship will occur to U.S. Citizen and permanent resident spouse and/or children of the exchange visitor because of that exchange visitor’s fulfillment of the two years foreign residence requirement.  All hardship waivers must address hardships both in the situation of the family member(s) accompanying the exchange visitor and in the situation of the family member(s) staying in the United States.  Medical, psychological, social, cultural, economic, educational, business, political, religious, racial hardships can be argued.

Persecution Hardship – Exchange visitors may request a waiver of the two years foreign residence requirement based on the ground that fulfillment of the requirement will subject the exchange visitor to persecution based on race, religion or political opinion.  Asylum application may be a better method of staying in the United States.

Fees for the J-1 Two Years Foreign Residence No-Interest Waiver:
The following is the attorney’s fee that the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC charges for a extension of this status when filed in the United States at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) (please read the disclaimer at the top of this page) and the filing fee currently charged by US Citizenship and Immigration Service (US CIS):

$2,000.00 attorney’s fees for the principal beneficiary petition
$   215.00 Department of State filing fee
Fee charged by the Foreign Government (fees will vary from country to country)

Experience:
The Law Office of William Jang, PLLC has extensive experience representing clients to obtain J-1 status and waivers of J-1 two years foreign residence requirements.

Please see a sample of approved cases.

What do we need to get started?

Information and Document Needed for J-1 Application

Information and Documents needed for Two Years Foreign Residence Requirement Waivers

Sample Retainer Agreement

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The information provided in this web site is of a general nature and may not apply to any particular set of facts or circumstances. The information may or may not reflect the most current legal developments. It is for general informational purposes only and is not be construed as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have specific questions or need legal representation, or legal advice, please contact the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC at (512) 323-2333.

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