Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Exchange visitor (J) visas are nonimmigrant visas for individuals approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States.
Exchange visitor categories include:
- Au pair and EduCare: A young adult lives with a host family for 12 months and experiences U.S. culture while providing child care and taking courses at an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution.
- Short-term Scholar: Professors, scholars, and other accomplished individuals travel on a short-term visit to lecture, observe, consult, train, or demonstrate special skills at U.S. research and academic institutions, museums, and libraries.
- Camp Counselor Specialist:
- Government Visitor:
- Student, college/university: Students study at a U.S. degreegranting post-secondary accredited academic institution, participating in a degree, non-degree, or student internship program.
- Intern: College and university students or recent graduates gain exposure to U.S. culture as they experience U.S. business practices in their chosen occupational field.
- Student, secondary:
- International Visitor (Dept. of State use):
- Summer Work Travel: College and university students at foreign universities gain first-hand experience as they work in seasonal or temporary jobs and travel in the United States during their summer.
- Professor and Research Scholar: These two categories promote the exchange of ideas, research, and linkages between research and academic institutions in the United States and foreign countries.
- Trainee: Professionals with a degree, professional certificate, or relevant work experience gain exposure to U.S. culture and receive training in U.S. business practices through a structured and guided work-based program.
Employer Opportunities for J-1 Program:
Employers interested in transforming your business with international talent or training individuals to start overseas branches of your company will find an invaluable solution with the J-1 Visa.
How to Apply:
- The first step in the process is to decide what type of participant you would like to hire out the list of programs. Each program has an information page specifically targeted to hosts and employers.
- The second step is contacting one of the Designated Sponsors for the chosen program. The Designated Sponsors are the organizations that administer the exchange program and connect hosts and employers with participants.
Find out how other employers are seeing the benefits of participating in the J-1 Visa Program.
Exchange Visitor Skills List
About the Skills List
The Exchange Visitor Skills List contains fields of specialized knowledge and skills. They are necessary for the development of an exchange visitor's home country. You are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement when you complete your exchange visitor program - if your skill is on your country’s Skills List. This requires you to return to your home country for two years at the end of your exchange visitor program. This requirement is in Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended.
Skills List By Country
Note: What if your country is not on this list? You are not required to return to your home country for two years at the end of your program, based on the skills list.
How to use this list
- First, check if your country has a Skills List. Select the country of citizenship or nationality in your passport on the Skills List by Country page.Does your country of citizenship or nationality differ from the country you lived in when you received your Exchange Visitor (J-1) visa? If you had permanent residence in that country, you must use the Skills List for that country.
- Yes, my country has a Skills List: Go to Step 2, below.
- No, my country does not have a Skills List: You are not subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement on the basis of the Skills List. (You may still be subject to the two-year requirement if your program was government-funded or if you received graduate medical education or training.)
- Next, find your field of knowledge/skill on the Master Skills List. Search for your field of knowledge/skill, not for your Subject/Field Code number.If your field of knowledge/skill is not listed, find the broader, more general subject group that it falls under. Every field of knowledge/skill is listed on the Master Skills List or is part of a broader, more general subject group.
- Is your field of knowledge or skill on your country’s skills list?
- Yes my field of knowledge/skill is on my country’s list: You are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement.
- No, my field of knowledge/skill is not on my country’s list: You are not subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement on the basis of the Skills List. (You may still be subject to the two-year requirement if your program was government-funded or if you received graduate medical education or training.)
Effective Date – Which Skills List Applies?
The 2009 Skills List applies to exchange visitors who receive J-1 visa on or after June 28, 2009. It applies only to countries on the 2009 Skills List.
Look at the skills list that was in effect when you received your J-1 visa. Is that country still on the 2009 Skills List? If it is not, you are not subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, based on the Skills List.
Note that former exchange visitors are eligible for all other nonimmigrant visa types through consular processing, even if subject to the 2-year home country residence requirement. Current or former Exchange Visitors are also eligible for program transfers and extension of their J status up to the limits of time for their particular exchange visitor category.
If you want to learn more about this topic or about our legal services for J-1 or for the Waiver from Two-year home country stay requirement of certain J-1 program, do contact us at (+1) 888 820 4430 (toll free), or (+1) 202 600 7742, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org