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 The J-1 "Exchange Visitor" Visa

This visa is issued to people who wish to enter the United States for a variety of educational and cultural purposes. People who have J-1 visas are subject to many of the same regulations procedures and restrictions as those with F-I visas. There are however some important differences.

Qualifying for a J-1 Visa

In order to qualify for a J-I "Exchange Visitor" visa you must:

Students at a U.S. college or university under the sponsorship of the U.S. government the home-country government an academic institution or other sponsoring exchange organization:
Participate in a medical internship or a research fellowship that is sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) or
Serve as a visiting lecturer researcher, trainee, specialist or short-term scholar at an educational institution or other sponsoring exchange organization. Note that other exchange participants also use this nonimmigrant visa, including secondary school students and camp counselors.

Applying for a J-1 Visa

In order to apply for a J-1 "Exchange Visitor" visa, you must have:

A valid passport issued to you by your home-country government: Two 5 cm x 5 cm photographs of yourself, signed by you in ink on the reverse side:
Form IAP-66. "Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 "Exchange Visitor" Status. (Original copy not a facsimile) stating that you have been admitted to an educational teaching, training or research program in the United States. Form IAP-66 is issued by the agency that sponsors you or the U.S. educational institution you will be attending:
Evidence (in English) of financial support. Any one of the following may be acceptable: actual requirements depend on consular practice in your country:

1. A certificate, issued by an officer of your own bank explicitly stating the amount of money available to support you during your stay in the United States.
2. If someone other than you will be paying your expenses a certificate issued by a bank officer of this guarantor's financial ability.
3 A statement from a sponsoring organization institution or person outlining the terms of sponsorship. If the sponsor is a person an affidavit of support or a certificate issued by an officer of the sponsor's bank, indicating the sponsor's financial ability and intention to support you. If the sponsor is the U.S. educational institution or sponsoring exchange organization, this information will be included on the Form IAP-66.

The J-1 Sponsor

The J-1 visa holder must have a sponsor, whether it is in the US educational institution the student will attend or another type of sponsoring agency. Each sponsor must be approved as an exchange sponsor by the US Information Agency (USIA). Once approved the sponsor is assigned a program identification number by USIA.

Within certain limits, sponsoring agencies have the authority to define the type of exchange program that they will offer. At times the sponsor's definition may add additional requirements or restrictions to a student's study program. These additional requirements might, for example, affect the definition of "a full program of study", the freedom to change fields of study, extension of stay, transfer to another institution, transfer of sponsorship etc.

Transferring to Another Program or Sponsor

J-1 visa holders who wish to transfer to another sponsor's "Exchange Visitor" program during a particular degree program or course of study may be able to do so without INS permission.

J-1 visa holders who wish to transfer to another "Exchange Visitor" sponsor - including those continuing on to a new degree program or course of study - must have INS permission. Permission is granted only if the transfer will help the J-1 visa holder achieve his or her original purpose for coming to the United States.

Change of Educational Objectives

J-1 visa holders are generally not allowed to change their educational objective while in the US. Students may change their field of study or degree objectives (with the sponsors approval), but they generally may not change from one category of "Exchange Visitor" to another unless it furthers their original educational objective.

Health and Accident Insurance

All J-1 visa holders are required to carry health and accident insurance during their entire period of stay in the US. This insurance requirement includes coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. In some cases, the sponsoring organization will include the required insurance as part of the program.

Employment or Academic Training

On-Campus employment is automatically authorized for the J-1 visa holder, providing the employment does not interfere with a full program of study. Off-Campus employment, which is unrelated to the exchange program's purpose, is also permitted under certain circumstances.
Academic Training - Another name for practical training - is permitted for J-1 visa holders and may be granted by the exchange program's "Responsible Officer".

The Home-Residence Requirement

The purpose of the home residence requirement is to enforce the return home of certain J-1 "Exchange Visitors" for a period of 2 years, so that they may carry out the exchange objectives of their program sponsors.
The 2 year home country residence requirement applies only to those J-1 "Exchange Visitors" who are financially supported by the US government or their home countries; who have skills which their countries have certified are needed at home; or who are medical doctors whom have graduated from foreign medical school and have come to the US to receive graduate medical education.

After the 2-year home-residence requirement has been fulfilled, those J-1 exchange visitors are eligible to apply for an immigrant or non-immigrant "H" or "L" visa status as workers, trainees or intra company transfers.

Extending Your Stay: Form IAP-66

To apply for an extension of stay, the J-1 "Exchange Visitor" must get a new form IAP-66 from the sponsor. The IAP-66, together with the applicants Form I-94 "Arrival-Departure Record" should be sent to the INS between 15 and 30 days before the present authorized stay expires. The INS returns the pink copy of the IAP-66 to the exchange visitor.

Returning to the United States After a Temporary Visit Outside the Country

In order to return to the United States after a temporary visit outside the country. J-1 visa holders need the third (pink) copy-of the current IAP-66 issued by your sponsor or if not available a duplicate of the current IAP-66.

The F-1 (Academic Student) Visa

The M-1 (Vocational School Student) Visa

The F-2, J-2, and M-2 Visa

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