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What are some points I should know about J-1 visas?

We briefly discussed the J-1 visa program in our last post. If you recall, the J-1 visa program is also known as the Exchange Visitor Program. It allows people from other countries to come into the United States through specific sponsorship programs for educational purposes. That post might have some of our Arizona readers wanting to know more information about the program and how it works. Understanding these answers is a good starting point, but anyone considering participating in a J-1 visa program should learn how his or her situation can be affected by the criteria and guidelines.

How can I apply for a J-1 visa?

You have to work with a sponsor program to apply for a J-1 visa. The sponsor sends you the certificate of eligibility, Form DS-2019, which you bring to the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country. Some programs and sponsors allow spouses and children to travel with the applicant via the J-2 visa program. You have to pay the fee, complete form DS-160, obtain a valid passport and provide a suitable picture. You will also have to submit other documents on a list available from the consulate or embassy.

How long can I stay in the United States?

You can enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the start of your program. You will get to remain for a predetermined length of time that is noted on your DS-2019. Some programs have extensions available if necessary, but those are only up to the maximum length allowed for that specific program. If an extension is granted, a new DS-2019 is issued.

Can I stay in the U.S. after the program?

You have 30 days to stay in the U.S. once the program ends. You must leave before this grace period is over. Some people are required to go back to their home country for two years after completion of the program. While you can travel to the U.S. for leisure during that time, you can't use some family-based or employment-based visa programs.

Source: United States Department of State, "Common Questions" accessed Mar. 19, 2015

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