The United States of America has remained one of the best job destinations in the world. That's why you find many foreigners seeking work opportunities in the United States through programs such as exchange visitors. Professors, scholars, and teachers can have opportunities to work in the United States through the exchange visitor program. This program is meant to provide opportunities to gain experience, study, and research in their respective fields in institutions in the U.S.

Hiring an immigration attorney is essential when seeking a non-immigrant visa through the exchange visitor program. You need a dedicated attorney to ensure you meet your expectations. Contact us at the California Immigration Attorney and diligently help you realize your dream to work in the United States.

What You Need to Know About the Exchange Visitor Program

The Exchange Visitors Program (EVP) was created as part of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. It allows foreigners to reside temporarily in the United States and participate in different educational and training programs and promote cultural exchange between the United States and other countries.

This program is based on the United States' public diplomacy effort to:

  • Increase mutual understanding between Americans and citizens of other countries through education and cultural exchange.
  • Strengthen ties between Americans and other nations by demonstrating cultural interest, development, and education to contribute to a more peaceful and fruitful life worldwide
  • Promote international cooperation for cultural and educational advancement
  • Assist in the development of peaceful sympathetic, and friendly relations between the United States and other nations

Initially, this program brought scholars to the United States to conduct research and teach. However, the program has grown to 15 categories of programs in which participants can teach, study, or receive training. These categories are as follows:

  • Camp counselors, including teachers, post-secondary students, and youth workers. This category is intended to interact and supervise youths in U.S. camps.
  • Young adults intended to stay with a host family and experience U.S. culture while taking courses at an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution.
  • College and university students expected to participate in an internship program facilitated by a specific academic institution
  • Governmental visitors, including distinguished foreign nationals, local governmental agencies, who intend to participate in consultations, professional meetings, workshops, and professional meetings
  • College and university student interns participating in an internship program in participating in particular academic fields
  • Foreign doctors to participate in the United States graduate medical education program or train at accredited medical schools.
  • Professors and research scholars to promote research, exchange of ideas, and linkage between research and academic institution in the United States and other countries
  • Secondary school students to live with an American host family or at an accredited boarding school and study at an accredited public or private high school
  • Short term scholars, including professors and other scholars to accomplish individual travel for a short time across the U.S. to consult, train, lecture, or demonstrate specialized skills at research, libraries, and museums
  • Specialists in different fields to exchange ideas with their American counterparts.
  • Summer work travel programs for university and college students to work and travel in the U.S. during summer
  • Foreign educators to teach full-time at primary and secondary schools in K-12 classes in the U.S.
  • Foreign professionals with a degree or relevant working experience who intend to gain exposure to the U.S. culture and train in business practices through a guided and structured work-based program
  • Regional and special initiatives

What You Need to Know About J-1 Visas

The J-1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa that temporarily brings scholars into the United States for a specific educational purpose like teaching or conducting research. However, this kind of Visa has diversified and has focused on promoting cultural exchange between Americans and people from other parts of the world.

With the J-1 Visa diversification, 15 exchange visitor programs (stated-above) make non-immigrants eligible for it. These exchange programs and their timeline are as follows:

  • For short-term scholars, the maximum timeline for a J-1 visa is limited to 6 months.
  • For research scholars, the maximum timeline for a J-1 visa is up to 5 years.
  • For professors and research scholars, the intended duration is three weeks to 5 years.
  • For alien physicians, the intended time limit is seven years.
  • For interns, the maximum duration is 12 months.
  • For trainees, the required timeline is a maximum of 18 months.
  • For a secondary school student, the maximum timeline is two semesters.
  • For teachers, the expected timeline s 3 years of full-time teaching in an accredited primary or private school.

For non-immigrants to work in the United States, it is not the company intending to employ or offer a training opportunity to you that will provide sponsorship, but a J-1 sponsor should do so.  Therefore, you should keep in mind that you cannot complete your J-1 visa application without a sponsor organization.

Please note, these sponsor organizations cannot sponsor your J-1 Visa until you get an offer. Therefore, you can only apply for this Visa once you find an institution that offers research or teaching opportunity. 

J-1 Professor Visitors Program

As stated earlier, a J-1 visa for professors is granted to a non-immigrant professor who intends to participate in Professor Exchange program with the United States sponsoring institution. A J-1 visa is granted for a maximum of three years with an option of an extension of the specific research activity is not completed. 

Eligibility for J-1 Professor Visitors Program

For a professor to qualify for a J-1 professor visitors program, the applicant must be accepted to participate in a certified professor exchange program. To participate in this program, the applicant must be a professor from his or her country, have proficient English language skills, and have obtained a Ph.D. or the highest degree possible in their expertise area. Applicants should also meet the sponsoring organization-specific program requirements.

Apart from that, the applicant must not be a candidate for employment in a professor position or have completed a professor exchange program within 24 months preceding the new program. Therefore, applicants with a J-1 visa for 12 months preceding this program are not eligible for the program. However, there might be some exceptions to this requirement. 

Employment in a J-1 Professor Visitors Program

In this context, employment represents any services offered or work performed to exchange benefits like fees, supplies, and room. If you do not receive compensation for the work you perform, this becomes volunteer work rather than employment.

A professor might receive a sponsor’s compensation if the activities performed are part of the program. To work outside the institution named in your application forms, schedule an international student counselor appointment.  However, the job should directly correlate with the visit’s objectives and not delay your program's completion. The departmental head or supervisor must also approve it.

Once non-immigrant professors acquire permission from the sponsor, they might occasionally engage in a lecture or short-term consultation, depending on the available opportunities. These activities should directly relate to the intended objectives and do not delay the program's completion date. 

Please note, the exchange visitor program prohibits participants from participating in unauthorized employment. Engaging in unauthorized jobs violates this program's regulation and subjects the participant to termination of the program. One way that a professor can participate in unauthorized jobs is by working without a valid DS-2019. This means that any work after the expiry of DS-2019 unauthorized and might require the participant to leave the U.S.

Program Extension in Professor J-1 Visa Visitors Program

Program extension is one of the common requests made in DS-2019 forms. It requires visitors to extend their stay for a maximum of 5 years by completing and submitting a new request form.

If you want a program extension, you should start this process at least two months before the end date of your current DS-2019. You should submit the form to the International Student and Scholar Service (ISSS) and pick it once completed. 

Traveling Outside the U.S During Your Visit

Suppose a visiting professor intends to travel outside the U.S. In that case, they should contact their host institution three weeks in about three weeks before leaving to plan and recommend the type of documents needed for travel. Visitors should have an endorsed DS-2019 form with them or take a new form if necessary. If the DS-2019 and Visa are valid, you will likely need an International Student Counselor's signature on your recent form.

Transferring to Another Program Sponsor

Exchange programs professors or visitors can transfer to another sponsor. The transfer's purpose is to achieve the objective that he or she was admitted to the exchange program.

Transfer of the program is achieved by correspondence between the responsible officers and notifying the U.S. Department of state. You should start this process in a minimum of thirty days before the DS-2019 program end date and the proposed starting date with the new sponsor to process the paperwork. Visitors cannot start any work without receiving a DS-2019 from the new sponsor. 

J-1 Research Scholar Visitors Program

The J-1 Visa allows academic institutions and other educational exchange programs to sponsor international researchers to participate in educational and cultural programs in the U.S. The institution sponsoring the research scholar must be approved by the United States' Department of State (DOS).

Research Scholar Categories

The research scholar visitor program goes into three categories. These categories are as follows.

J-1 Research Scholars or Professor

J-1 visa holder research scholar or professor category can remain in the United States for a maximum of five years. Everything else related to this category is described above in the J-1 professor visitor's program section.

J-1 Short Term Scholar

The J-1 short-term scholar category includes a professor, research scholar, or specialist who intends to come to the United States on a short-term visit and hold lectures, observation, train, consult in a specific field, or demonstrate skills.

Visitors under this category might have limited access to institutions. They might only participate in paid employment if described on the DS-2019 form issued to the J-1 Visa holder. 

J-1 Specialist

J-1 specialists involve individuals with specialized skills or knowledge coming to the United States for consulting, observing, and demonstrating special skills. J-1 Visa holders under this category can stay for the length of time needed to complete their program but should not exceed one year. Extension beyond the 1-year program is unauthorized.

Paid employment under this category is allowed if described on the DS-2019 form issued to the visitor.

Eligibility for the J-1 Visas

The requirements needed for a research scholar visitor are not different from what is required from a professor. Therefore, a research scholar visitor is expected not to be a candidate for the tenure track position and must not have participated in a research scholar program within twenty-four months preceding the new program's beginning date.

They must also not have participated in a J-1 Visa program for all or part of 12 months immediately preceding the start date of the new research scholar program unless the visitor meets the following exceptions:

  • The participant is in a current researcher scholar program and intends to transfer to another institution in the United States to continue with the program.
  • The participants had a prior physical presence in the United States on a J-visa program within less than six months.
  • Any prior participant was a short-term scholar.

How to Maintain Your J-1 Scholar Status

There are several requirements needed to maintain a J-1 research scholar status. Failure to maintain these requirements might have your program canceled. Below is a detailed description of these requirements.

  1. Maintain your Program's Objectives

Once you were granted the DS-2019 document, it precisely highlighted the specific academic objectives agreed upon between yourself and your host department. The Department of State expects these objectives to be maintained. Any plan to change your goals, including change of laboratory, department, or faculty sponsors, requires you to inquire with the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) to ensure that the changes are permitted. 

  1. Check with the OISS Within Thirty Days of the Program Start Date

You should consider the program start date listed on the DS-2019 while contacting the OISS. Their check-in times on Mondays and Wednesdays are from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. You do not need to schedule an appointment while contacting OISS.

  1. Maintain a Health Insurance

You and your accompanying J-2 dependents should maintain health insurance for the entire period of your stay in the United States. The health insurance coverage must meet the specific criteria outlined by the J-1 federal regulations and the sponsor's policies.

  1. Change of Address Reporting Requirement

You must report a change of address to the OISS within ten calendars days. You should also email or use the provided by your sponsor. The same should apply to change in the site of activity, location, or place where you conduct research or study.

  1. Studying Restrictions

Research scholars are not expected to enroll in a program that confers degrees or certificates. If the researcher intends to take any course, it must be incidental and approved by the department. Any questions regarding this requirement must be submitted to the OISS.

  1. Off-Campus Employment

You should seek authorization from OISS to participate in short-term consultations or occasional lectures if you are a research scholar visitor under the J-1 Visa program. The lectures and consultations should be incidental to the exchange visitor's program primary objectives. If any reimbursements are provided, they must be approved by the OISS advisor before the date of the proposed work.

  1. Work Outside the United States or Leave of Absence

Leave of absence (LOAs) is not usually permitted under the J-scholars program. Under the Department of State, a J-1 exchange visitor is "active" in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

If the SEVIS status is active, the university that works as the J program sponsor should monitor the exchange visitor's progress and welfare. At the same time, the visitor should maintain health insurance. This makes LOA unauthorized since it represents a break from the program participation.

However, J-1 scholars can still maintain their status if approved by the OISS in advance while participating in activities outside the United States. It is recommendable to contact your sponsor to determine whether working outside the United States would negatively affect your ability to return to the United States.

  1. Abide by the 30 Days Grace Period Rules

Research scholars should not stay in the United States for more than thirty days after the program's end as indicated on the DS-2019 form. They should not also work after the program end date. Any transfer or change of immigration status should be submitted and approved before the grace period.

  1. Always Maintain a Valid DS-2019 Form

Research scholars should never allow their DS-2019 to expire. However, if you need a program extension, you should work with your department and request an extension. If you expect the research program to complete at least 15 days before the end date indicated on your DS-2019, you should notify OISS at least 30 days before the program's end date.

  1. Maintain a Valid Unexpired Passport

You need to renew your passport even if you are not planning to travel outside the United States during your stay throughout the program. You should start the renewal process as soon as possible since it might take quite long to renew it. Contact your country's embassy or consulate for the proper procedures and materials needed in the renewal process.

  1. Must be Aware of the 212 (E)

Some J-1 research scholar visitors might be required to physically reside in their last country of permanent residence for two years before returning to the United States. This requirement does not apply to all visitors, depending on their immigration status.

  1. Avoid Engaging in Criminal Activities

Research scholars and exchange visitors, in general, should avoid criminal activities, especially related to DUI or illegal drugs. Any arrest, even when there is no successful conviction, might pose severe consequences on your immigration.

J-1 Teacher Visitors Program

The J-1 teacher program encompasses a cultural component that allows teachers to engage with Americans and share their culture with the United States' hosting communities. In the end, teachers who participate in this program return to their native countries with new classroom and pedagogical skills that they can share with their communities and school.

Eligibility for J-1 Teacher Visitors Program

There are specific aspects that a participant must meet to have an opportunity to come to the United States and complete a teaching term in a United States school. These requirements are as follows:

  • Should be a currently employed teacher at his or her home country or country of legal residence
  • If the applicants are not employed as teachers, they should have completed an advanced degree beyond the equivalent U.S. bachelor's degree in general education in the specific academic subject which they intend to teach.
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Must have a strong proficiency in spoken and written English
  • Have at least two years of full time, post-degree classroom teaching experience as a lead teacher in a primary or secondary school
  • A person of regular good character
  • Can satisfy the teaching eligibility standards like having necessary certifications and licensing of the United States' school intending to teach
  • Does not intend to use the program as a path to gain permanent United States' residency or employment

Find an Los Angeles Immigration Attorney Near Me

Many non-immigrants have had frustrations due to the tedious process needed to acquire a J-1 Visa. Fortunately for you, we pride ourselves on providing fast immigration services at the California Immigration Attorney. Our experienced attorneys are ready to answer any questions and help with any technicalities regarding J-1 Visa for teachers, professors, or scholars. Contact us today at 424-789-8809 and allow us to help you successfully apply and obtain your J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa.