J-1 Eligibility and Criteria

a. Students

Most students may remain in the U.S. for the duration of their programs plus an additional 18 months of practical training employment (the student must apply for practical training). Practical training is any employment directly related to the subject matter of the student’s major field of study. Remaining in the U.S. for the additional 18 months of practical training is at the student’s discretion. Postdoctoral training is limited to 36 months minus any previously used practical training time.

However, students between the ages of 15 and 18 who are participating in a high school exchange program (living with an American host family or residing at an accredited U.S. boarding school) are limited to one year’s stay. They cannot work, except at jobs such as babysitting or yard work.

b. Teachers, Professors, Research Scholars and People With Specialized Skills

Exchange visitors in any of these categories may be issued J-1 visas for no more than three years, plus 30 days in which to prepare to depart the U.S.

c. International Visitors

International visitors whose purpose it is to promote cultural exchange, such as those working in the cultural/ethnic pavilions of Disney’s Epcot Center, may be issued J-1 visas for no more than one year plus 30 days in which to prepare to depart the U.S. Persons qualifying under this category may also be eligible for Q visas.

d. Foreign Medical Graduate Students

Foreign medical graduates may be issued J-1 visas for the length of time necessary to complete their training programs, up to a usual maximum of seven years (with limited exceptions) plus 30 days in which to prepare to depart the U.S.

e. Other Medically Related Programs

Participants in any medically related programs other than those for foreign medical graduates may be issued J-1 visas for the duration of their educational programs plus 18 months of practical training. However, the total time of both program participation and practical training may not be more than three years.

f. Business and Industrial Trainees

Business and industrial trainees may be issued J-1 visas for a maximum of 18 months, except interns who are limited to 12 months. Trainees in flight programs may be issued J-1 visas for a maximum of 24 months; however, this and other rules regarding flight students will probably be modified soon for security reasons.

g. Employees of the International Communications Agency

Participants in this particular exchange visitor program may be issued J-1 visas for up to ten years or even longer if the director of the International Communications Agency makes a special request to the INS.

h. Research Assistants Sponsored by the National Institutes of Health

Participants in this particular exchange visitor program may be issued J-1 visas for a period of up to five years.

i. Au Pairs

Au pairs may come to the U.S. on J-1 visas to live in and perform child care (but no other housework) for U.S. families. Au pairs may work no more than 45 hours per week, be paid at least the minimum wage, and must attend an institution of higher education to earn at least six hours of academic credit.

j. Government Visitors

Visitors may be invited by the U.S. government to participate in exchanges which strengthen professional and personal ties between key foreign nationals and Americans and American institutions. They may be issued J-1 visas for the length of time necessary to complete the program, but no more than 18 months.

k. Camp Counselors

Youth workers over the age of 18 coming to serve as counselors in U.S. summer camps may be issued J-1 visas for no more than four months.

l. Summer Work Travel

Post-secondary students may use a J-1 visa to work and travel in the United States for a four-month period during their summer vacations, through programs conducted by Department of State-designated sponsors.

m. Short-Term Scholars

Professors and other academics participating in short-term activities such as seminars, workshops, conferences, study tours or professional meetings may be granted up to six months on a J-1 visa.

n. Exceptions to the General Rules

Any exchange visitor may be allowed to remain in the U.S. beyond the limitations stated above if exceptional circumstances arise that are beyond the exchange visitor’s control, such as illness.

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