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If you wish to become involved in one of the many work and study exchange programs available to foreign visitors in the United States, it is important to get a head start on the J-1 Visa process. A J-1 Visa offers prospective visitors the opportunity to enter and remain in the United States for the duration of their exchange program. Eligible participants include may include students at the high school, college and graduate levels, medical students, professors, academic trainees, au pairs, camp counselors and other seasonally employed individuals, cultural ambassadors, and government employees.

This type of visa covers a vast array of individuals and programs and can give applicants the chance to engage in valuable cultural exchange experiences in the United States. However, the application process can be complex, and you may require legal representation to complete it. A skilled Bolingbrook J-1 Visa lawyer could offer knowledge and support and answer any of your questions as they arise.

J-1 Visa Application Eligibility

For Bolingbrook applicants to be approved for a J-1 Visa, they must first obtain sponsorship from a designated sponsor program. Eligible sponsor programs are widely available and are governed by the Department of State. They include colleges, universities and other educational institutions, private entities, and government organizations.

Once applicants have been approved by a sponsor, the next step is to file the DS-2019 form, which provides details on the exchange applicant and the designated sponsor program, including the length of time of the program, the category of exchange and an overview of the associated costs. Other requirements can include a demonstration of adequate financial support to sustain the participant for the duration of the program and written and spoken proficiency in English as demonstrated by a TOEFL exam.

J-1 Visa Requirements Once Approved

Once applicants have obtained approval for the J-1 Visa, they must continue to meet certain obligations to remain in good standing. These include:

  • Continued participation in the designated cultural exchange program as per the program requirements
  • Agreement not to work in the United States without permission from the program sponsor
  • Adherence to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement once the program has been completed.

J-1 Visa applicants are permitted to work for their sponsor, but not for another employer unless they receive special authorization from their sponsor. The two-year foreign residency requirement can be waived if certain approved conditions are met, as a knowledgeable J-1 Visa lawyer in Bolingbrook could further explain.

J-1 Foreign Residency Requirement Waivers

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, J-1 Visa applicants are required to return to their home countries following the completion of their cultural exchange program for a minimum of two years. However, there are certain situations in which returning home is not a viable option for the J-1 Visa holder.

The Department of State may waive the two-year foreign residency requirement if an applicant can demonstrate they will face persecution upon return to their home country on the basis of race, religion or political affiliation. A waiver is also available to those who can demonstrate the separation will result in exceptional hardship to their U.S. citizen/lawful permanent resident spouse or child.

Waivers are also available to applicants who have obtained a No Objection Statement from their home country’s government. Applicants who have served as employees to the U.S. Federal Government during the duration of their stay may also obtain a waiver if the continuation of their employment is of interest to their government employer. A Bolingbrook J-1 Visa attorney could examine an applicant’s specific case to determine if he or she qualifies for any of these waivers.

Reach Out to a Bolingbrook J-1 Visa Lawyer for Legal Guidance

Participating in a work or study exchange program could be a beneficial and memorable experience, but the laws concerning this type of visa can be difficult to navigate on your own.  No matter where you are in your application process, a Bolingbrook J-1 Visa attorney could clarify the any complex aspects and dispel some of the confusion surrounding the rules and requirements. Contact us today and schedule your consultation.

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