Philadelphia J Visa Summary Lawyers

J Visas are nonimmigrant visas issued to aliens temporarily coming to the United States to participate in an educational and cultural exchange program designated by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. This program was designed to promote international relationships and increase mutual understanding between the United States and other countries.

The visitor must be accepted to participate in the program by a sponsoring public or private organization in one of the following categories:

  • Au pair
  • Camp counselor
  • College or university student
  • Secondary student
  • Alien physician
  • Professor
  • Research scholar
  • Short-term scholar
  • Specialist
  • Summer work/travel student
  • Teacher
  • Trainee or intern
  • Government visitor
  • International visitor (reserved for Department of State use)

Upon acceptance to the program, the visitor should apply for a J Visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. A consular officer will then determine whether the applicant meets the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requirements to qualify for this class of visas. The INA requires that the exchange visitor plan to remain in the United States for only a temporary and specified time period; he or she has sufficient funds to cover expenses during that period; and he or she has compelling ties to the respective home country that will ensure return when the visa expires or the program ends.

If the applicant is successful, the embassy or consulate will issue him or her a J-1 Visa as the primary participant in the U.S. exchange program. The spouse and minor dependents of the J Visa holder may be issued J-2 Visas and will be allowed to travel with the J-1 Visa holder. Once the visitor has obtained a valid J Visa, he or she must enter the United States within the 30 days immediately before the program start date. Persons who want to enter more than 30 days in advance of that date must apply for another type of visa.

At the conclusion of the exchange visit, J Visa holders are expected to return to their home countries to use their newly acquired skills and expertise. Some exchange visitors are subject to a two year home residency requirement. This requires the visitor to return to his or her home country, or country of last permanent residence prior to coming to the United States, for two years before he or she can obtain certain other nonimmigrant visas, apply for an immigrant visa, or apply for an adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident. (Click here for a more detailed explanation of the two year home residency requirement and which J Visa holders are subject to it.) This requirement may also be waived in certain situations. (Click here for a more detailed explanation of J Waivers.)