Training/Student (J-1) visas

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides a non-immigrant visa category for persons to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States.

The “J” exchange visitor program is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences.

Participants include students at all academic levels; trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies; teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools; professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning; research scholars; professional trainees in the medical and allied fields; and international visitors coming for the purpose of travel, observation, consultation, research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs.


  • Financial Resources: Participants in the “J” exchange visitor program must have sufficient funds to cover all expenses, or funds must be
        provided by the sponsoring organization in the form of a scholarship or other stipend.
  • Scholastic Preparation: “J” exchange visitors must have sufficient scholastic preparation to participate in the designated program, including
        knowledge of the English language, or the exchange program must be designed to accommodate non-English speaking participants.
  • Medical Education and Training: Exchange visitors coming under the “J” program for graduate medical education or training must meet
        certain special requirements. They include having passed the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in Medical Sciences, demonstrating
        competency in English, being automatically subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement, and being subject to time limits on
        the duration of their program. Physicians coming to the United States on exchange visitor programs for the purpose of observation,
        consultation, teaching, or research in which there is little or no patient care are not subject to the above requirements.
  • Foreign Residence Requirement:

    Many exchange visitors entering the United States are subject to a requirement that they return to their home country to share with their countrymen the knowledge, experience and impressions gained during their stay in the United States. Unless the BCIS approves a waiver for this requirement, exchange visitors must depart from the United States and live in their country of residence for two years before they are allowed to apply for an immigrant visa, permanent residence, or change to a new nonimmigrant status.

    You are subject to the foreign residence requirement, if you are a (J-1 visa status) participant in the Exchange Visitor Program and:

  • Any part of your participation in the exchange program was paid for, directly or indirectly, by your government or the United States
  • You are from a country which has been designated by Bureau of Consular Affairs as requiring your skills; or
  • You arrived in the United States on or after January 10, 1977 to obtain graduate medical education or training.
  • If you fall into one of the above categories, your dependent spouse and child are also subject to the foreign residence requirement.

    Waiver of Foreign Residence Requirement:

    You may be eligible to apply for a waiver of the foreign residence requirement if:

  • You have a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child and you can provide evidence that returning to your country would
        impose exceptional hardship on your spouse or child;
  • You cannot return to your country because you would be subject to persecution because of your race, religion, or political opinion;
  • A U.S. government agency requests a waiver directly from the Bureau of Consular Affairs for you because you are engaged in a project
        of official interest to the agency;
  • Your country provides a written statement to the director of the Bureau of Consular Affairs stating that your country has no objection to a
        waiver. (If you came to the United States as an exchange visitor to receive graduate medical education or training, you are ineligible to
        receive a waiver on this ground.); or
  • A state of the United States, through the state office of public health or its equivalent, sponsors you to work as a physician in a health
        man power shortage area within the state for three years as a nonimmigrant in H-1B status (temporary worker in specialty occupation).
        If you are granted the waiver, you must agree to begin your employment with the state within 90 days of receiving the waiver. This
        state request is submitted to the director of the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
  • There are multitudinous immigration laws, federal statutes and regulations involved in applications for non-immigrant and immigrant visas. The legal process is complex and could result in the denial of a your visa if the application is not properly prepared. If the application is put together correctly and professionally by a qualified immigration attorney, the probability of achieving a successful result is greatly increased.

    The Bócsi Law Firm can precisely and professionally prepare all of the necessary applications for you, providing you with security that the entire process goes smoothly, and relieving you of the stress and worry that often accompanies immigration legal procedures.

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