Start with a J: Have you heard of the J Visa?

From time to time we get guest Bloggers to write for our Blog. This recent article is by Abby Pearson, an avid blogger who regularly writes on a variety of legal topics. Abby is interested in different student visas and how an immigration lawyer can help those looking to qualify for them.

College is a time to not only decide on a major and choose your career path, but also a time for adventure and for exploring the world. For many college and university students, this means studying abroad. Along with hundreds of thousands of students leaving the United States for countries throughout Europe and South America, hundreds of thousands of other students leave their homelands and journey to the United States every year to study abroad.

Preparing for studying abroad can be very complicated. Along with leaving home for several months to a year, students must also apply for a student visa. Along with the F-1 and M-1 visa, students can also choose to apply for a J-1 visa program. This visa is a non-immigrant visa for exchange students typically seeking medical or business training with a college or university. In many cases, it is reserved for students needing to obtain practical training that is not available in their home country in order to complete their degree.

J-1 visas have become increasingly popular for exchange students because they can often earn enough money to pay for their entire stay in the United States. Before obtaining a J-1 visa, students must meet a number of criteria and also be sponsored by a private sector or government program that has been approved by the U.S. State Department. Other requirements for a J-1 visa include the following:
• Sponsorship from an organization that will officially sponsor the student and also provide enough funding to support the student for the duration of their study abroad program. Students can obtain this sponsorship from their home country’s government, the United States government, or a private source.

• Applicants have to be seeking a degree full-time
• Students must be enrolled in a full-time recognized program if the student is not seeking a degree
Statistics from the United States Department of State report 31,092 students currently participating in the J-1 visa program in the state of California. Most international college and university students are in the United States on an F-1 visa as opposed to a J-1 visa that is used more commonly for professors, trainees, research scholars, physicians, and summer students that are traveling and working.

One common question many prospective exchanges students have about J-1 visas is the period of stay that it permits. This differs depending on the category of one’s visa. A work and travel visa is typically good for three to four months, while trainee and internship programs are good for 18 months.

Additional information regarding J-1 visas states that a J-1 applicant’s spouse may have a job as long as it is not to support the J-1 holder and the spouse cannot also have a J-1 visa. This employment is typically authorized for the length of the J-1 visa or four years, whichever comes first.