Around 450,000 visitors from over 200 countries and territories are accepted into the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program each year. This program is a way for international visitors to experience the life and culture of the United States, engaging with Americans and fostering global interaction and enrichment. What makes the J visa unique from other temporary nonimmigrant visas is its selection of programs, which span academics to employment opportunities to childcare. Specific programs are provided for:
These programs are hosted by academic institutions. Each program has its own limitations regarding the length of the visitor’s stay. Some programs, such as the professor and research scholar programs, have a minimum stay of three weeks, while the physician program can have a maximum stay of seven years.
In addition to the J-1 visa, the J-2 visa is available for the spouse and/or dependents of the J-1 visa holder. The J-2 visa allows the spouse and/or dependents to travel and stay with the primary visa holder.
Applicants must first apply for and be accepted into their chosen program. After choosing your program, find and contact a designated sponsor that offers that specific program. Designated sponsors, which are unique to J-1 visa holders, are organizations that are designated by the Department of State and administer the exchange program. They provide the connections between J-1 participants and the schools, employers, or hosts the J-1 participants wish to study under and/or work for, as well as monitor the participants’ safety, health, and overall well-being throughout the program. These sponsors screen select participants according to criteria established by each program category. These criteria may include:
If you are accepted into a program, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Some sponsors include the SEVIS-I-901 fee as part of the program fees, but other sponsors or programs may require you to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee to the Department of Homeland Security. Check with your sponsor for details.
Once enrolled in SEVIS, you will be issued a Form DS-2019. This form is a basic document that identifies the participant, the sponsor, and the outlines of the program you have been accepted into, including the beginning and end dates.
Once you have your Form DS-2019, it’s time to apply for your visa.
J-1 visas require application through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country. Each country may have different instructions, so check your specific embassy’s website for complete instructions.
For J-2 visas, applications must be submitted for each dependent, and can be submitted either during the application for the J-1 visa or later. J-2 visas also require health insurance.
There are a few reasons why your visa application may be denied. Some of the most common are:
If you entered the United States without visa and are working here without legal documentation, your employer may be able to help you. But it’s important to understand that just because your employer wants to help doesn’t mean you will be able to obtain a green card. The process for obtaining a green card is complicated and depends on many factors, including your prior history (and your family’s prior history) in the United States. So it’s good that your employer wants to help but the first step is to call us for an interview so we can understand more about your situation.
A work permit is a common way of referring to an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is issued by the Immigration Service (which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Under U.S. law, you need a work permit or EAD in order to become a legal employee of a U.S. company. Many lawyers will promise to get you a work permit, but you have to be careful about this. The catch is that you can’t simply apply for a work permit or EAD in itself. In order to apply for a work permit you have to make an application for legal status in this country on some other basis. Don’t believe any other lawyer or person who tells you it’s an easy thing to get a work permit. Call us for an interview and we can explain to you how the process and immigration laws in the United States really work.
As a result of the injunction issued by the District Court in Texas, applications for the expanded DACA program and DAPA are currently on hold. The Department of Homeland Security is not currently accepting requests for the expansion of DACA, as originally planned. Until further notice, it has suspended the plan to accept requests for DAPA.
The Court’s order does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA pursuant to the guidelines established in 2012. This ruling only delays the start of DAPA and the expansion of DACA.
It’s important that you speak with a qualified attorney who can explain all the options and issues relating to your immigration status. Do not take advice about your immigration case from a notary public or an immigration consultant. The U.S. immigration laws and rules are very complicated and many people take advantage of undocumented immigrants, making promises and charging money without providing honest advice. Contact only a qualified immigration lawyer for legal advice about your case. If you encounter 'notarios' who offer legal advice without a license, report it.
You can begin preparing now! Even though DHS is not currently accepting applications under DAPA or the expanded DACA programs, individuals who are potentially eligible for Deferred Action status should begin preparing their applications now. It is very likely that the Texas decision will be overturned and there will probably be a rush of applicants when that happens. Individuals should be ready with their applications and start now by gathering the necessary documentation and seeking good counsel to give themselves the best chance for success and to avoid potential problems.
If you are a U.S. citizen or have a Green Card, then yes, you can apply for a visa for your family members. But the process can take a long of time, depending on your own status. If you’re a U.S. citizen, it might take 8 months to a year to process the application. The waiting time will be much longer if you’re a Green Card holder. Generally, the sooner you start the process the better, so contact one of our attorneys now to get started or browse our site to learn more about the different types of visas available for family members.
Whether you can travel abroad depends on your immigration status. If you have been granted DACA or if you have a Green Card in hand – you still must ask for advanced permission in order to leave the country. This is called advanced parole. Obtaining advance parole is relatively inexpensive. But it is not without risk, because there is really no way to guarantee that you will be able to return. Your return is ultimately within the discretion of the authorities at the point of your reentry to the U.S.
If one of your employees entered the United States without visa and is working here without legal documentation, you may be able to help this person obtain legal immigration status. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to obtain a green card. The process for obtaining a green card is complicated and depends on many factors, including a person’s prior history (and their family’s prior history) in the United States. It’s definitely helpful to their case if you, as their employer, are willing to help, but the first step is to have the employee call us for an interview so we can understand more about their situation.
A work permit is a common way of referring to an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is issued by the Immigration Service (which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Under U.S. law, an employee needs a work permit or EAD in order to become a legal employee of a U.S. company. Many lawyers will promise to get undocumented immigrants work permit. But you have to be careful about this. The catch is that you can’t simply apply for a work permit or EAD in itself. In order to apply for a work permit a person must make an application for legal status in this country on some other basis. So don’t let your employees get gulled into believing that it’s easy to get a work permit by some lawyer or hustler on the street corner. Call us for an interview and so we can explain to your employees how the process and the immigration laws in the United States really work.