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Employment Immigration: Who can apply for J1 visas?

When nationals of Canada and other foreign countries want to participate in work-and-study-based exchange programs in the United States, they will need J1 visas. Often used for employment immigration, they provide non-immigrant visas for exchange visitors.  The visa holder can stay in the United States for specified time periods — determined by the type of program in which they participate. Typical programs include study, work, research and teaching. The visas are valid for a few weeks to a number of years.

The J1 visa category includes 14 programs with varying requirements and rules; however, all classes require the applicants to be proficient in the English language, have medical insurance and a valid sponsor. For any organisation to sponsor an exchange visitor, it must demonstrate that it can maintain a sponsorship. Requirements include providing the exchange visitor with pre-arrival information and information that will help with the person’s adjustment to his or her unfamiliar surroundings. The sponsor must also monitor the welfare of the participant and ensure the availability of round-the-clock emergency support.

The validity of J1 Visas of au pairs, interns, specialist programs and secondary school students are one year, and four months for summer work travellers and camp counsellors. Scholar programs that are short term are six months, and three years for teacher programs. A trainee may stay for 18 months — except hospitality and agriculture trainees who may stay for 12 months. A physician’s residency term will determine his or her duration of stay, and professors and research scholars are permitted to stay between three weeks and five years. Government programs allow stays of 18 months, and college and university students between 18 months and 36 months — depending on their study levels.

Canada citizens who are interested in participating in an exchange visitor program will need to submit a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J1) Status. To ease the navigation of the complexities of employment immigration, seasoned cross-border lawyers are available to provide guidance. Such professionals can assist an applicant every step of the way.

Source:, “J1 Visa: Overview“, Accessed on Jan. 27, 2017