A Guide on How to Obtain a J-1 Visa in the United States

Learn more about a J-1 visa, who it's for, the requirements, and process for obtaining one to temporarily work and travel in the United States.

What is a J-1 Visa?

The J-1 visa is in part of the Exchange Visitor Program. The J-1 visa currently includes 13 different exchange program categories, depending on the particular category chosen the programs will allow a foreigner to work or travel legally for an extended period of time.

The J-1 Visa Program also benefits the U.S. businesses by providing seasonal employment for those exchange visitors looking for part-time employment while abroad under their specific program.

J-1 Visa Requirements

Each J-1 Exchange Visitor Program has sponsoring organizations designated by the United States. It is their role to authorize the entry of a foreign national for the purpose of completing the objectives of a specific program, which the Department of the State approve. The J-1 visa categories cover the private, academic and government sector for teaching, receiving training or demonstrating special skills.

Additionally, an applicant must pay for their round-trip air travel, have sufficient funds for the living expenses in the U.S. and purchase adequate health insurance. Exchange visas can be obtained for 18 months through approved programs and once expired there is a two-year residency requirement.

After obtaining all of these one may still need a certificate as well as a petition for a nonimmigrant worker (Form I-129) with the program or employer you are seeking to stay under. The laws vary by country and embassy so consulting a lawyer on the legal rules is always recommended.  

H-1B Visa - Specialty Occupation Worker (skilled worker)

H-2B Visa - Temporary non-agricultural worker

H-2A Visa - Temporary agricultural worker

L-1 Visa - Intra-company Transferee

B-1 Visa - Business visitors

Green Card - Permanent Residence to live and work in the U.S.


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