The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has different visa options for international students seeking to live temporarily in the United States. Keep reading to discover the eligibility criteria for the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa.
J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa – Understanding the Requirements
The J-1 visa is a nonimmigrant classification that permits the admission of eligible foreign nationals as exchange visitors to the United States. The first requirement to apply for a J-1 visa is to participate in an approved program for:
· Teaching, instructing or lecturing
· Conducting research
· Demonstrating special skills
· Receiving training, or
· Receiving graduate medical education or training
The US Department of State is responsible for designating public and private entities to act as exchange sponsors for eligible foreign exchange visitors. It is not possible to enter the United States under J-1 status without the sponsoring of an authorized exchange program.
As described by USCIS, “these programs are designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts, and science.”
If a J-1 visa holder has a spouse and unmarried children (under 21), they are entitled to the J-2 classification (regardless of nationality). The J-2 status permits visa holders to work in the United States during their stay – as long as the income is not used to support the main J-1 visa sponsor.
Who is Eligible for a J-1 Visa? – Attention to Detail
The J-1 Exchange Visitor visa encompasses different individuals from distinct segments of study, including:
· Au pairs
· Camp counselors
· College and university students
· Secondary school students
· Government visitors
· International visitor program
· Professor and research scholars
· Individuals participating in intern programs
Given the broad scope of activities encompassed by the J-1 visa, each “subcategory” has its own criteria to determine the applicant’s eligibility. For example, applicants seeking to enter the United States under J-1 status to provide au pair services have a long list of requirements to meet.
J-1 au pairs are generally childcare providers aged between 18 and 26 who care for a family’s children in exchange for room, board, or a fixed salary. While an au pair’s priority is to fill his or her obligations, the program also permits them to enjoy their free time in the United States.
The first eligibility criteria for a J-1 Au Pair visa is to receive a job offer from a US-based family. Upon receipt of an eligible offer, the applicants must meet an extensive list of requirements to receive USCIS approval, including:
· Being 18 to 26 years old
· Being a healthy person capable of performing au pair services
· English proficiency (not necessarily fluency)
· Secondary school education
· Police clearance report
· A valid international driver’s license (with at least 50 hours’ driving experience)
· Personal willingness to stay away from home for at least one year
· No previous stay in the US as an au pair
As it is plain to see, identifying the eligibility criteria for each program requires experienced legal guidance. Consult with an expert Florida immigration attorney to identify the most suitable J-1 exchange program option for your case.