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J Exchange Visas!

The J Visa is for professors, research scholars, trainees, college or university students, teachers, foreign physicians, camp counselors, au pairs or students in a travel/work program.

Candidates must be able to speak, read and write in English. For a trainee, a college degree is normally necessary plus one year of job related experience. J visas include college and university internships, serving in an au pair program for American families as a nanny, and a teacher program for elementary and high schools, provided the applicant has 3 years or more of experience and will be able to provide the equivalent of a university degree in the U.S. The teacher program is valid for up to 3 years. The au pair is valid for one year although it may be extended for up to 12 more months if the au pair meets educational requirements. Interns may be approved for up to one year.


Some of the J visa program holders may be required to return to their country or country of last residence before they may apply for permanent residence status or file for change of status. Physicians in the program are normally subject to this necessity to return to their country because their services are needed by their country. This requirement may sometimes be waived as for example if the doctor enrolls in a program for underserved areas in the U.S. where few doctors are willing to go. For the Waiver the doctor must agree to serve in the underserved area for at least 3 years.

The J visa holders who are subject to the foreign residence requirement are:

a) candidates who were financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly by their Government or the U.S. Government;
b) or a candidate whose job appears on the skills list of his/her country;
c) those who came for graduate medical education or training.


Upon a favorable recommendation by the Department of State, a Waiver may be granted. Two classes are granted for candidates who may face persecution in their home country or who would be exposed to severe hardship if they return to their countries.

A third Waiver class is for hardship to a U.S. spouse such as disruption of education or career or psychological hardship. The fourth Waiver would be for close family such as children; e.g., a child needing correctional surgery unavailable in the candidate’s home country.

The Waiver requires a No Objection letter from the candidates’ country. If the candidate received funding, direct or indirect, however, from the U.S. Government, a Waiver is not available.

Another alternative for a Waiver exists if a U.S. agency asks for the Waiver because it is in our public interest and a return would be detrimental to a program of official interest to the agency.

A State may also recommend up to 30 Waivers a year if the applicant will be working in a health care facility in the State for up to 3 years in an area the State indicates it has a shortage of medical care.


Residence in a 3rd country will not meet the 2 year foreign residence requirement. The candidate must return to his own country or if it is not feasible, then to the country of the candidate’s last residence The foreign residence requires cumulative, not continuous residence.


1. for college students: the time needed to complete the degree plus 18 months practical training;
2. post- doctorial: to complete degree plus 36 months academic training;
3. internship: 12 months
4. professors & scholars – maximum time 5 years
5. short-term scholars – 6 months
6. flight school trainees: 24 months
7. Summer work, travel: 4 months

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