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Los Angeles County Attorney

J-1 Exchange Visitors

The J-1 classification (exchange visitors) is authorized for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.

In carrying out the responsibilities of the Exchange Visitor Program, the Department of State designates public and private entities to act as exchange sponsors. J-1 nonimmigrants are therefore sponsored by an exchange program that is designated as such by the U.S. Department of State. These programs are designed to promote the interchange or persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts, and science.

Examples of exchange visitors include, but are not limited to:

· Professors or scholars

· Research assistants

· Students

· Trainees

· Teachers

· Specialists

· Nannies/Au pairs

· Camp counselors

Eligibility Criteria

Before a foreign national can apply for a J-1 visa, he or she must have been accepted to one of the above Exchange Visitor Program categories and must have a sponsoring organization. Additional requirements include:

  • Having sufficient funds to cover expenses for the trip,
  • Fluency in English.
  • Maintaining sufficient medical insurance for accidents and illnesses for themselves and any family members in the J2 category
  • Having a residence abroad that applicant has no intention of abandoning.

Application Process

The U.S. Department of State plays the primary role in administering the J-1 exchange visitor program, so the first step in obtaining a J-1 visa is to submit a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, (formerly known as an IAP-66). This form will be provided by your sponsoring agency. You should work closely with the officials at your sponsoring agency who will be assisting you through this process. An official who is authorized to issue Form DS-2019 is known as a Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO). Your RO or ARO will explain to you what documents are needed in order to be issued a DS-2019.

After you have obtained a Form DS-2019, you may then apply for a J-1 visa through the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so submitting your visa application as early as possible is strongly encouraged (though you may not enter the United States in J-1 status more than 30 days before your program begins).


Some J-1 nonimmigrants enter the United States specifically to work (as a researcher, nanny, etc.) while others do not. Employment is authorized for J-1 nonimmigrants only under the terms of the exchange program. Please check with your sponsoring agency for more information on any restrictions that may apply to you working in the United States.

Family of J-1 Visa Holders

Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, are entitled to J-2 classification. Your spouse and children are entitled to work authorization; however, their income may not be used to support you. To apply for work authorization as a J-2 nonimmigrant, your spouse or child would file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. For more information on the application procedures, see the "Work Authorization" link to the right.

Services provided by Warner Law Center for J-1 Visa

WLC will represent and assist you throughout the entire visa process by:

Assisting you to complete Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, (formerly known as an IAP-66). We will communicate with your sponsoring agency work with their officials through this process. After you have obtained a Form DS-2019 we then proceed to with preparation and filing of required forms for consular processing. We also provide assistance for making the visa application fee, making the appointment for you at the U.S. Consulates. For Iranian applicants, residing in Iran, we arrange for visa appointments in Yerevan; Ankara, and Dubai.

J-1 Waivers

Certain Exchange visitors, who are subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), may be able to waive this requirement if they meet certain conditions. The USCIS will grant a waiver upon a favorable recommendation from the Department of State (DOS). There is a four-step process to obtain a DOS recommendation:

1. Applicant submits a Data Sheet to the DOS Waiver Review Division with two stamped self-addressed envelopes and the appropriate fee.

2. DOS sends the case number and instruction sheet for the waiver to the applicant. The instruction sheet will depend upon the type of waiver indicated on the Data Sheet.

3. For persecution and hardship waivers, the next step is filing Form I-612 (Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residency Requirement) with USCIS. If the USCIS grants the I-612, it then transmits the information to the DOS. For the other categories, the next step is an application to the agency or to the foreign government, as described below.

4. DOS reviews the application and forwards the recommendation to USCIS with a copy to the applicant and J-1 Sponsor. If the USCIS grants the persecution or hardship waiver it then transmits the information to the Waiver Review Division of DOS which shall make a recommendation after reviewing the "Program, policy, and foreign relations aspects of the case."

The Department of State provides five (5) statutory bases that J-1 holders may use to waive the two-year foreign residency requirement.

"No Objection" Letter

The foreign residency requirement may be waived provided your home country's government issues a "no objection" letter to the U.S. State Department indicating that it does not object to the two-year foreign residency requirement being waived.

Exception: A "no objection" waiver is generally not available to medical residents/interns who received medical training in the U.S. For information about how to obtain a "No Objection" Letter, contact WLC.

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