This visa is an alternative for applicants who cannot fulfill the H-1 requirement for insufficient education and/or because the H-1 category is filled. The “J” Visa is an educational and cultural program designed by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. The program fosters the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills in education, arts and sciences. Students, trainees, institutions, teachers, professors for higher education or research scholars, professionals in the medical fields and international visitors coming to travel, observe, consult or conduct research may be included as participants.

The program participants must demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to cover their expenses or that they will be provided by an accredited sponsoring organization, and that they have sufficient education or training to participate in the program.

For graduate medical education or training, an applicant must pass the necessary Foreign Medical Examination and the English comprehension exams as well. The medical graduate or trainee will be subject to a two year foreign residence requirement after completion of the program. Physicians not coming for clinical work but only for the purpose of observation, consultation, teaching or conducting research, are not subject to these limitations.

The Department of State issues a form of Certificate of Eligibility (J-1) which must be authorized by an accredited sponsoring agency. When a J-1 arrives at a U.S. Port of Entry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency will authorize an appropriate period of stay in the U.S. by endorsing Form I-94 record of Arrival and Departure for the time authorized.

Many exchange visitors who enter the U.S. are subject to a requirement that they return to their native country to share their knowledge acquired here. Those J-1′s who are subject to this foreign residence requirement must return to their country for a two year period before they may return to the U.S. with immigrant visas or apply for another nonimmigrant visa.

Who is subject to the foreign residence requirement

If a J-1 receives funds for the program paid for, directly or indirectly, by his/her government or the U.S. government, the J-1 will be subject to the foreign residence requirement. Or if the J-1 comes from a country which has been designated by the Bureau of Consular Affairs as requiring the skills of the J-1 (see the Exchange Visitor Skills List), then this J-1 would be obliged to return to his/her country for two years.

Lastly, if an applicant has arrived after January 10, 1977, to obtain graduate medical education or training, the graduate J-1 would be subject to the two year foreign residence requirement.

Waiver of the foreign residence requirement.

Eligibility for a Waiver depends on proof of one of the following:

  • a) The J-1 has a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child and returning to his/her country, would impose exceptional hardship on either of them;
  • b) If the J-1 were to return to his/her country, he/she would be subject to persecution because of race, religion or political opinion;
  • c) A U.S. government agency requests a Waiver directly because the J-1 is engaged in a project of official interest to the agency;
  • d) The country of the J-1 writes directly to the Bureau of Consular Affairs stating that the J-1′s country has no objection to a Waiver (if the J-1, however, came to the U.S. for graduate medical education or training, the J-1 would nonetheless be ineligible despite the no objection letter;
  • e) An interested Federal Agency, or a State Public Health Department or its equivalent sponsors a J-1 physician to work full time for three years as a physician in a geographic area designated as having a shortage of health care professionals. Waivers for the Department of Veterans Affairs are not limited to practice medicine in areas designed as having a shortage of health care services, but the J-1 physician must agree to begin employment with the V.A. within 90 days of the grant of the Waiver.


Election November 7th; impact on immigration

Due to the repudiation of the conservatives last week, if the President is to avoid lame duck status for the remainder of his two year term of office, he must compromise with the independents and the Democrats to arrive at an immigration bill. The Democrats, independents and liberal Republicans have insisted on a bill that would allow most illegal aliens (by credible predictions, 12 million) to be admitted as lawful residents, after a transitional period to show knowledge of English, acquaintance with our culture, and the equivalence of two years of high school education, or a job skill with a reasonable period of experience appropriate for the job.

An offer of a job will be required. While the transitional time period is pending, it has been proposed these illegal aliens would be able to travel in and out of the country, to visit their families abroad. This law, the Kennedy McCain bill previously proposed is now not unlikely to pass with the President’s signature.