DC J Visa Attorney

Are you interested in taking part in a foreign exchange program? Call a DC J visa lawyer with our firm to discuss the application process. Our experienced DC student visa attorneys understand what it takes to successfully apply for a J visa, and we are eager to help clients like you with their applications.

The J visa is a popular short-term visa program for individuals who wish to enter the U.S. to participate in “cultural exchange” programs.   A J visa applicant must be a student, professor, research scholar, academic specialist, foreign physician, teacher, counselor, au pair, or summer student in a travel/work program.  The J visa holder must have sufficient funds to support themselves in the U.S., and must maintain sufficient medical insurance for themselves and their family while residing in the U.S.  Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of J visa holders may apply to accompany the J visa holder.  J visas are valid for a maximum of 18 months, with the exception of professors and scholars, who are limited to three years with one three-year extension possible in exceptional circumstances.

Application Process

A J visa applicant must first have a Program Sponsor that has been pre-approved by the U.S. Department of State. There are a wide variety of organizations that are eligible to become Sponsors, including schools, private companies, community organizations and private organizations. The Program Sponsor will contact the “host” organization, who will serve as the specific employer/organization/company/school at which the applicant will be placed.  The Sponsor will then be required to register the J-1 applicant in the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) database.

After the Program Sponsor visits the host organization and ensures it complies with all J visa requirements, it will issue Form DS-2019, a “Certificate of Eligibility” to the applicant. The applicant will then take that form to the U.S. consulate in their home country for an interview to obtain the actual J visa.  When the visa is issued, the applicant will receive a stamp on their passport indicating a specific amount of time they are allowed to remain in the U.S., which depends on which type of program they will pursue. The J visa holder will enter the U.S. using this visa.

After the J visa holder has completed their program, they have a 30-day grace period during which they may travel within the U.S. or prepare for their departure.

Staying in the U.S. Following a J Visa

This is an important question for J visa holders who wish to pursue employment or remain in the U.S. after their status expires.  Many (but not all) J visa holders are required to return to their home country for two full years after they have completed their program in the U.S. They must remain outside the country for the entire two-year period before they can apply for re-entry to the U.S. in any other status, such as a visitor, student, employee, or permanent resident.

Not all J visa holders are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement. It applies to individuals who worked with organizations that are financed in whole or in part and directly or indirectly, by an agency of the U.S. government or the government of the applicant’s home country. The two-year requirement also applies to individuals who were engaged in a field listed on the Department of State Exchange Visitor Skills List during their J visa stay.  You can find this list here as part of the Department of State’s website. The list of skills is different for each country.

As always, it’s often wise to speak with an experienced DC J visa lawyer if you want to make sure that your field qualifies with the most current requirements issued by the U.S. government.

Foreign Residency Requirements

The application for a waiver will be submitted to USCIS, but will be approved only after the Department of State issues a favorable recommendation.

There are only five specific grounds through which a J-1 holder can apply for a waiver:

  1. By obtaining a statement from the applicant’s home country stating that the foreign government has “no objection” to the individual receiving a waiver;
  2. By submitting a specific request from a U.S. federal executive agency to waive the requirement;
  3. By proving that the applicant has a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child who will suffer “exceptional hardship” if the J visa holder is not granted a waiver;
  4. By proving that the J-1 holder will suffer persecution in their home country if forced to return; and
  5. By obtaining a request from a designated government health department (this applies to foreign medical graduates only).

To if one of these grounds applies to your case, call a DC J visa lawyer today.

Contact our experienced DC J Visa Attorneys for Assistance

If you have questions about whether you qualify for a J visa as an applicant, host, or sponsor, or if you have questions about your current J status, please feel free to contact a DC J visa lawyer at our firm for a consultation.

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