What is a J-1 Visa?


A J-1 visa is used for individuals participating in officially approved work and study exchange programs. It is a non-immigrant visa that does not provide a path to a green card, though it does come with a pathway to restricted work authorization.  Generally, J-1 students may only work on campus. 

There are many programs, most targeting teachers, students, researchers, specialists, au pairs, and camp counselors. Here in Philadelphia, you’ll find several, including:

 You are only allowed to remain in the United States for the duration of your program. You will then be required to return to your home country after graduation and to live there for at least two years. You’ll be required to return within 30 days of your program end date. 

If an emergency situation arises at home, it is possible to waive these requirements so you may return home sooner.

A J-1 Visa vs. an F-1 Visa

A J-1 visa is not the same as an F-1 visa. An F-1 visa is a student visa that covers an entire program or course of study at a college or university. A J-1 visa will generally cover a single semester or another very limited period of time. 

You will get your degree from your home university in your home country with a J-1, vs. an F-1, where you would obtain your degree from the college or university you apply to, attend, and name when applying for your F-1. However, you can apply for an additional 18 months of academic training (AT) in a field related to your program for up to 18 months after graduation. An F-1 student may apply to work up to 12 months via Optional Practical Training (OPT) instead. 

A J-1 visa is also tied to a specific program, vs. an F-1 visa is tied only to your acceptance at an approved American college or university. When applying for a J-1, you must provide USCIS with all the program details. An accredited sponsor must provide at least 50% of your funding.

Get Help Today 

You must fill out three separate forms and provide several pieces of evidence to submit your J-1 visa. It is easy to make mistakes, which could cost you your dreams of completing an exchange program in the United States.

If you need help with your application, contact us. The Office of Hykel Law can help ensure that your J-1 visa application is in top-notch shape upon submission and can ensure that your program meets all applicable requirements.

See also:

5 Social Media Mistakes That Threaten Green Card Applications

Steps for Getting a Student Visa in the United States 

Converting an F-1 Visa to an H-1B Visa

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Employment & Investment Visas

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Not knowing or understanding the system and laws of the U.S. can be a disadvantage for many foreign immigrants who wish to obtain permanent residency in the United States, either for themselves or for their loved ones. Hykel Law’s Family-Based Immigration Services can lead you through the complicated process to achieve either temporary or permanent residency, depending on your situation.


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Are you afraid of deportation? If you are a foreign national involved in the beginning stages of removal proceedings, the deportation attorney at Hykel Law in Philadelphia can help prevent this unfortunate situation. We can evaluate your immigration case and find the best strategy to defend you from removal proceedings to help you stay in the United States.

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