The J-1 classification (exchange visitors) is authorized for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.

Examples of exchange visitors include, but are not limited to:

  • Professors or scholars
  • Research assistants
  • Students
  • Trainees
  • Teachers
  • Specialists
  • Nannies/Au pairs
  • Camp counselors

The State Department has been in charge of the J program since October 1999. The State Department may issue an advisory opinion on whether a J-1 holder or someone who was once a J-1 holder is subject to the two-year home residency rule and its ruling is authoritative. Experienced attorneys at The Law Offices Of Yongbing Zhang A can assist you to obtain an Advisory Opinion from the U.S. State Department.

For services in providing a Legal Opinion from The Law Offices of Yongbing Zhang or an Advisory Opinion from the State Department, you should provide the following documents for an accurate case assessment:

  • Copies of all your IAP-66 Forms (Certificate of Eligibility) since your U.S. arrival; and
  • Copies of all your I-94 Forms (Arrival-Departure); and
  • Copy of your Visa; and
  • Copies of documents describing financial support for your J-1 program.

Application Process

The U.S. Department of State plays the primary role in administering the J-1 exchange visitor program, so the first step in obtaining a J-1 visa is to submit a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, (formerly known as an IAP-66). This form will be provided by your sponsoring agency. You should work closely with the officials at your sponsoring agency who will be assisting you through this process.  An official who is authorized to issue Form DS-2019 is known as a Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO). Your RO or ARO will explain to you what documents are needed in order to be issued a DS-2019.

After you have obtained a Form DS-2019, you may then apply for a J-1 visa through the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so submitting your visa application as early as possible is strongly encouraged (though you may not enter the United States in J-1 status more than 30 days before your program begins).


Some J-1 nonimmigrants enter the United States specifically to work (as a researcher, nanny, etc.) while others do not. Employment is authorized for J-1 nonimmigrants only under the terms of the exchange program. Please check with your sponsoring agency for more information on any restrictions that may apply to you working in the United States.

Family of J-1 Visa Holders

Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, are entitled to J-2 classification. Your spouse and children are entitled to work authorization; however, their income may not be used to support you.  To apply for work authorization as a J-2 nonimmigrant, your spouse or child would file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. For more information on the application procedures, see the “Work Authorization” link to the right.

IGA Waivers

Our Attorneys can help you evaluate the strength of your case, assure compliance with the relevant IGA’s requirements for waiver applications, edit Recommendation Letters to give them the maximum persuasive effect, draft persuasive Petition Letters (when applicable), and help select the appropriate government agencies for your IGA waiver case.

For our services in obtaining an IGA waiver, you should provide your resume (CV), information about government funding of your current or prospective employment, and information about the program for which you are working or will be working if you get a J-1 waiver, including information about the level of cooperation you can expect from your employer/prospective employer.