Exchange visitors (J Visas)

More than 25 years ago, the U.S. government enacted the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. The purpose of this act was to promote and foster the exchange of cultures through first-hand experiences by creating opportunities for people to travel to the United States. There are a variety of reasons that one may seek to get a J visa. While age is not a factor in obtaining a J visa, the list of possible experiences allowed under J visa are often aimed at young people. These cultural exchange experiences include roles like:


      Au Pair

      Camp Counselor

      Government Visitor

      College or University Student

      Secondary School Student


      International Visitor


      Professor and Research Scholar

      Short-Term Scholar


      Summer Work Travel



The duration of stay and rules for extensions for the J-1 visa vary based on the reason for your visit, so it is best to contact an immigration attorney if you have questions about your particular situation.


Duration of the most common programs, as an example:


·   Au Pair: 12 months with the possibility of extension for additional 6, 9, or 12 months

   Business Trainees: 18 months

   College and University Students: the duration of the study plus additional time for practical training – 18 months for the graduates of bachelor or master programs, and36 months for doctorate degrees.

   College Professors: 36 months

   International Visitors: 12 months (this category is for programs that are sponsored by the U.S. government)

   Government Visitors: 12 months

   Medical Residents/Interns receiving medical training: the duration of the study, but not longer than 7 years.

   Primary and Secondary School Teachers: 36 months

   Research Scholars: 36 months

   Specialists: 12 months

   Summer Work/Travel: 4 months

Trainees in Flight Aviation Programs: 24 months


There are also a few "pilot" programs offered at this time for travelers from four specific

countries. These Include:


     The Summer Work Travel Pilot Program for Australians.

     The Summer Work Travel Pilot Program for New Zealanders.

     The Intern Work Travel Pilot Program for the Irish.

     The WEST (Work, English Study, and Travel) Program for South Koreans.


If you may be eligible for one of these four programs, visit for more information.


Just like the visas we have already covered, a J-2 visa includes the spouse or minor children of a J-1 visa traveler.

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