Grzeca Law Group s.c. - Immigration Lawyer
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Corporate Immigration:Temporary Visas:Employee and Business Visitors:J-1

J-1 Exchange Visitors

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program was established to "promote a better understanding of the U.S. in other countries, and to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries." This program provides foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the U.S. and return home to share their experiences as well as allowing U.S. citizens to participate in such programs in other countries.

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is available to nonimmigrant visitors to the U.S. in the categories of professor or research scholar, short-term scholar, trainee or intern, college, university or secondary student, teacher, nonacademic specialist, foreign physician, international or government visitor, camp counselor, au pair, and summer student in a travel/work program. Specific requirements and regulations govern each exchange designation. For example, J-1 classification is granted for a maximum of 18 months, with some exceptions that may limit this time to 12 months.

Before an individual can apply for a J-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, he or she must meet the requirements, apply for and be accepted in one of the Exchange Visitor Program categories through a designated sponsoring "umbrella organization." In addition, companies interested in hosting J-1 visitors must facilitate their participation in the program through the same "umbrella organization."

Of interest to many U.S. employers (particularly in the hospitality industry, specialty and non-specialty training), internship and summer work/travel programs are designated in a number of fields, including hospitality, management, business, commerce and finance.

Please contact Grzeca Law Group's J-1 Exchange Visitor Lawyers for information regarding company programs available, as well as information on other regularized recruitment rotation programs related to the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.

Waiver of 2 year foreign residence requirement

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is intended to promote cultural exchange and encourage participants to share what they learned during their experience with others in their home country. Therefore, many J-1 visa holders must, by law, return to their home country or country of last residence and reside there for two years after completion of the program in the U.S. before they are eligible to apply for H or L classification, an immigrant visa, adjustment of status, or a change of status.

J-1 visa holders who are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement are those:

  • Whose participation was financed, in some way by the U.S. government or the government of the participant's nationality or last residence;
  • Who, when they acquired J-1 status or were admitted to the U.S., were engaged in a field on the Department of State "Skills List" applicable to their country; or
  • Who came to the U.S. or acquired J-1 status to receive graduate medical education or training.

However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, upon recommendation by the Department of State, may waive the two-year foreign residence requirement if a J-1 participant can prove that he or she should not be required to leave the U.S. Grounds for the waiver may include a credible claim that the participant would be persecuted in his or her home country, that it would be in the public interest to allow the individual to remain, or that the individual is employed as a physician in a designated medically underserved area.

The process for obtaining a waiver of the two-year residence requirement depends on the type of waiver sought. Grzeca Law Group's J-1 Lawyers have the expertise and track record to determine whether or not an individual is subject to the two-year foreign residence rule, and, if so, what waivers may be available in a particular situation.

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