J visa is issued for the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs designated educational and cultural exchange programs. J visa allows foreign students, scholars, experts, medical interns and residents, industrial and business trainees, and their immediate families to come to the United States as Exchange Visitors in US approved Exchange Visitor Programs. Please note that family members of the exchange visitor enter in J-2 visa category and they are required to present certificate of eligibility on their own name. The family members of exchange visitor can accept employment with the USCIS authorization. However, their compensation must be used solely for their own support but not for the support of the exchange visitor.
J visa allows the aliens to come to the United States for the purpose of gaining experience, studying or doing research in their respective fields. The permissible period of stay for exchange visitors varies depending on the exchange visitor category in which the visitor is admitted. For example teachers of primary and secondary school are admitted for three-year period, business trainees may be admitted for 18 months, college and university professors and research scholars may be admitted for the period of five years, foreign medical graduates participating in US internships and residencies may be admitted for the length of their program, with a usual maximum of seven years with some exceptions, etc.,
J visa program has some limitations. Some J visa exchange programs requires alien to spend two years of foreign residence outside the United States once he completes his or her program in the United States. Some J visa holders are barred to participate as professor or scholar for all or part of one-year period if they were present in the United States as F-1 student or J visa exchange visitor for all or part of one-year period immediately preceding the commencement of such participation set forth in the Certificate of Eligibility.
Any J visa holder subject to two year foreign residence requirement is ineligible for permanent residence or nonimmigrant visas in the H or L category until the alien spends his or her two years, after completion of stay in the United States, at his home country or his country of last residence. Some waivers are available for certain programs from two-year residency requirement. However, procedures to obtain waivers are complex in nature, and therefore it is important to consider two-year residence requirement in making decision whether to use the J visa category because the options for placing an alien, subject to requirement, after completion of the training are limited. Also, note that one-year bar on participation as professor or scholar also applies to the family of such barred alien.