The J-1 visa category is used by foreign students, scholars, experts, medical interns and residents, “international visitors,” and industrial and business trainees to enter the United States as “exchange visitors,” in U.S. government approved Exchange-Visitor Programs, for the purpose of gaining experience, studying, or doing research in their respective fields.
The U.S. sponsor must proceed through an Exchange-Visitor Program designated by the State Department. Private companies help to administer the program as umbrella organizations in order to help place qualified applicants with sponsoring employers, companies, and institutions for the J-1 Visa holder.
There are eight types of programs through which sponsors may bring exchange visitors to the United States. Those program types cover:
- short-term scholars
- business trainees
- research scholars
- foreign medical graduates
- summer travel/work for students
- au pairs
- other visitors
Application to be a program sponsor is limited to these types of programs, but an organization may sponsor more than one program type.
Special limitations: Two-year foreign residence requirement. A two-year foreign residence requirement is imposed on some categories of exchange aliens once their U.S. stay is completed. Any J-1 exchange visitor subject to the foreign residence requirement is ineligible for permanent residence or nonimmigrant visas in the H or L category until he or she spends two years—after completion of stay—in his or her home country or country of last residence. Some waivers of the requirement are available in special cases.