J-1 Visas for Interns, Trainees, Scholars, Au Pairs, Teachers and Others

The J-1 visa category is designated for “exchange visitors.” Unlike the other visa categories, the J-1 program is administered solely by the U.S. Department of State, not USCIS. Under the broad umbrella of “exchange visitors” are separate classifications for interns and trainees, scholars at universities, short-term au pairs, and teachers, among others.

How we help: Our immigration attorneys assist many students, recent graduates, and entry-level professionals in obtaining J-1 visas for internships and training experiences with U.S. employers and organizations. To learn more about the other classifications of J-1 status that may apply to you, please contact our office.

J-1 Visa Qualifications

To qualify as a trainee, a person must have:

  • A related post-secondary degree earned outside the U.S. and one year relevant experience outside the U.S., or
  • Five years relevant experience outside the U.S.

To qualify as an intern a person must be:

  • Currently enrolled in a degree or certificate granting post-secondary academic institution, or
  • Have graduated from such a program no more than 12 months from the start date of the internship.

J-1 Training Program Sponsors

The U.S. Department of State designates certain private (third party) organizations to serve as Training Program Sponsors. These sponsors are charged with approving applications, authorizing host employers, and ensuring compliance with the J-1 regulations. J-1 applications are first submitted to a third-party Training Program Sponsor with applicable support documents about the trainee/intern, the host employer, and the proposed training or internship plan. Once approved, the trainee or intern may then apply for a J-1 visa stamp at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.

J-1 Visa Duration

The maximum duration of a J-1 program is 18 months for training and 12 months for internships. A person who has completed a J-1 training program or internship may apply for another one after spending two full years outside the US.

Some foreign nationals who hold or have held J-1 status may be subject to a two-year home residency requirement, meaning that after the completion of their J-1 status, they must spend two years in their home country before they may apply for another immigration status (with some exceptions). This two-year home residency requirement is different from the two-year repeat participation prohibition mentioned above. In certain situations, a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement may be possible. For more information on J-1 waivers please visit the Waivers Section of our website or contact our office for a consultation.

To speak with an immigration attorney about J-1 visas contact Grossman Young & Hammond.

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