Many different visa categories permit nonimmigrants to travel to the United States. Nonimmigrant international students usually enter the United States using one of three visa types: F-1, J-1 or M-1. Each visa is designed for a specific purpose. In this blog series, the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program will help you better understand the J-1 visa.
The Exchange Visitor Program (J-1 visa), overseen by the U.S. Department of State, provides opportunities for more than 300,000 foreign exchange visitors to participate in 15 diverse program categories each year. Each of these 15 categories is specifically geared toward cultural exchange.
It is important to remember that not all J-1 exchange visitors come to the United States to study. There are different types of cultural exchange programs available under J-1 exchange visitor status. Of the 15 J-1 program categories, those designed specifically for study or research at secondary and post-secondary institutions in the United States are Secondary School Student, College and University Student, Professor and Research Scholar, Short-term Scholar and Specialist.
As a central part of the experience, J-1 visa exchange programs include a cultural component that gives exchange visitors the opportunity to engage more fully with Americans and share their cultures with their U.S. host communities. There are also opportunities for J-1 exchange visitors to strengthen their English language abilities.
To participate in the Exchange Visitor Program, exchange visitors must be sponsored by one of the State Department's U.S.-based designated sponsor organizations authorized to administer the program. Sponsors include more than 1,500 academic, for-profit, non-profit, and federal, state, and local government entities. Sponsors are responsible for screening and selecting eligible exchange visitors to participate in the program, as well as for monitoring the exchange visitors to ensure their health, safety and welfare while they are in the United States.
In areas where there are large placements of exchange visitors, J-1 sponsors also play a role in arranging cultural activities, such as sporting events, tours of city halls and museums, and visits to national landmarks.
Are you interested in learning more about the different J-1 visa categories? Visit the J-1 website and download the one-page Exchange Visitor Program fact sheet.