Green Cards (Common)
National Interest Waivers
Professors & Researchers
Executives & Managers
PERM Labor Certification
Investors (EB-5 visas)
Family (Spouse, etc.)
Work Visas (Common)
O-1 Extraordinary Ability
TN Canadians & Mexicans
J-1 Visa Holders
Nurses & Physical Therapists
Frequently Asked Questions about J-1 Visa Status
How can I extend or change my status, or change programs?
Transfers of J-1 programs are no longer done through the Immigration Service. The Department of State has that responsibility through responsible school officials. You should talk to your designated school official about the request for an extension or change, and have new forms issued.
A change of a program category will be denied unless the transfer is clearly consistent with and closely related to your original exchange objective. However, requests to change from research scholar to student may be granted.
How does an exchange visitor acquire an extension of the 30-day voluntary departure status?
You will need to contact USCIS for an extension of the 30-day, post-program, voluntary departure status period.
How do I acquire an extension beyond the maximum limitation of stay of my exchange visitor program?
You will need to contact the designated school official at your institution concerning an extension.
Where can I get a copy of my lost DS-2019/IAP-66 form?
Your designated school official of the exchange visitor program in which you participated while on the J-1 visa should be able to supply you with a copy of your lost DS-2019/IAP-66 form.
Yes, your spouse and children under 21 years old may receive "J-2" status, as dependents of a J-1 visa holder. You must be able to show that you will have sufficient financial resources to cover all expenses while in the United States.
Can my wife work while I am in J-1 status?
Yes, your J-2 dependents (such as your wife and children) may receive authorization to work in the United States, but only if employment is not necessary to support you financially. Employment is authorized for the length of the your stay or 4 years, whichever is shorter.
I am in J-1 status, and I am subject to the foreign residency requirement. Are my family also required to return to our home country?
Yes, your family members are subject to the foreign residency requirement to the same extent as you are, even if they arrived in the United States after you completed the program that required you to return to your country for two years.
May my wife change her status to something other than J-2?
Your wife may enter the United States in a different visa status, assuming she meets those criteria. If your wife is already in J-2 status, she may also change to another nonimmigrant category (such as F-1, H-1B, J-1 or other), unless she is subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement.
What is the Skills List?
The Exchange Visitor Skills List is a list of occupations that are needed in an exchange visitor's home country. If you are in J-1 visa status and your skills are on this list, you may be required to return to your home country for two years before you are eligible to receive a different status in the United States.
How do I determine if my country has a skills list?
The current skills list is published in the Federal Register, Volume 62, No. 11, January 16, 1997, pages 2448 to 2516. You can find the Exchange Visitor Skills List online on the State Department's website.
Which country’s skills list applies to me?
The country of your last legal permanent residence where you obtained your J-1 visa applies to you.
Government Funding and the Foreign Residence Requirement
How do I determine if the funding I received for my program was government provided?
You should consult your program's responsible officer for assistance in making this determination.
Does funding provided by an international organization make me subject to the two-year home residence requirement?
Can I serve my two-year home residence requirement in the United States or a third country?
Generally not. The residence requirement usually must be served in your country of last residence.
An exception is if you spend time in the United States or a third country on behalf of your government in the military or foreign service. Before the State Department can determine that you have satisfied the foreign residence requirement, an official of your home government must submit a written statement (through the home-country's embassy in Washington, D.C.) that you were or will be serving in the United States or a third country in the service of your home country and at that government's request.
I came to the United States from a country other than Canada on a J-1 visa. After completion of my J program, I moved to Canada as a landed immigrant. Which country am I subject to return for my two-year residence requirement -- my former country of residence or my current one, Canada?
You are subject to return to your former country of residence. J-1 regulations stipulate that an exchange visitor is subject to the country of his/her legal permanent residence at the time that the visitor acquires the J-1 status. The visitor must return to his/her former country of residence in order to fulfill the two-year home residence requirement or he/she must receive a waiver of the requirement.
I am in J-1 status and subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement. May I apply for a green card?
Yes, you may begin the application process for a
green card such as filing a National Interest Waiver, EB-1 petition, or labor
certification application. However, you need to obtain either a
J-1 waiver or satisfy the foreign residency
requirements before you may adjust your status to permanent resident or acquire
an immigrant visa.