What Is The US J-1 Visa For Teachers And What Should You Know About It?

Asako Maruoka's picture

The US J-1 visa is a very interesting visa under the non-immigrant category. It is used to allow teachers, exchange visitors, and scholars to participate in US programs promoting cultural exchanges. In most situations, the visa is used to get business or medical training in the country, but other situations do apply. Applicants have to meet strict eligibility criteria that are much stricter than the ESTA based visa waiver program. English language requirements and sponsorship from an approved institution will be needed. 

What Is The US J-1 Visa For Teachers And What Should You Know About It?

Status Duration

As a J-1 visitor, you can stay in the US until exchange program ends. After the official date stated in the form is over, you can only stay one more month in the country. This is the grace period that applies and allows departure preparation. When you leave the country during the grace period you are now allowed to go back with the same visa. 

Maximal and minimal stay durations will be determined by J-1 visa category for the exchange program. Similarly to the other visas that are aimed towards non-immigrants, the holder needs to leave the US after stay duration ends. 

Home Residence Requirements

Most J-1 visa holders need to deal with a requirement of 2 year home residency. If this is a held visa, there is a residency change that has to be proven before moving to nonimmigrant status visas. Adjusting permanent resident status in the US is possible, but it is possible that you have to leave the US before the new visa is offered. After leaving the US, many of the J-1 visa holders have to complete home-country physical presence requirements. This basically means that you need to stay in the home country for a number of years before you can go back to the USA, usually 2 years. You should know about this, since it almost always applies for the dual intent visas you might want to get afterwards. 

Requirements For Reporting

To receive the J-1 US visa, you need a sponsor that has to monitor participant welfare and progress. Sponsors should guarantee that the activities of the participants are consistent and in-line with identified program category. A participant should offer correct current contact information and maintain such data on file. 

Exchange visitor applicants need SEVIS issued by DOS sponsor. Consular offices verify records through an electronic system and process the exchange visitor application. If not exempt, a payment will be needed, so be sure to check and see how much has to be paid.

Teachers Traveling To The US Should Be Careful

Rules that apply with the J-1 visa program are very strict. It is mandatory that they are respected, or it is possible that the teacher is simply removed from the country, even if the exchange program did not end. Always work with the sponsor to get the needed information about the visa and if there are potential problems, do check with a specialist to get help. US visas are really complicated, especially for those that are non-immigrant.