J-1 Exchange Visitors

J-1 visas are for individuals who intend to participate in an approved exchange visitor program for the purpose of teaching, instructing, lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, or receiving training. J-1 visas are also used for individuals receiving graduate medical education or training. 

J-1 exchange visitors must be sponsored by an exchange program designated 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, scholars, research assistants, students, trainees, teachers, specialists, nannies, au pairs, and camp counselors.


Some J-1 visa holders enter the United States specifically to work. Employment for J-1 holders is only authorized under the specific terms of the exchange program sponsoring the visitor.   

Family of J-1 Visa Holders

The spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of a J-1 visa holder are entitled to J-2 classification (regardless of their nationality). The spouse and children are entitled to work authorization, but their income may not be used to support the J-1 visa holder.

Two-year home residency requirement

Certain J-1 exchange visitors are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement which requires the visitor to return to his or her home country for at least two years at the end of the exchange visitor program. 

J-1 exchange visitors may seek a waiver of the two-year requirement in several different ways:

  • Receipt of a "No Objection Statement" from the home country's government;
  • Request by an interested U.S. federal government agency;
  • Persecution;
  • Exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen (or lawful permanent resident) spouse or child of the visitor; or
  • a request by a designated state public health department or its equivalent under the "Conrad State 30" program

The J-1 exchange visitor must apply for and obtain an approved waiver from the Department of Homeland Security prior to changing status in the United States or being issued a visa in certain categories for travel to the United States.

Helpful Links:

J-1 Exchange Visitors

Waiver of the Exchange Visitor Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement