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J-1 Visa for Trainees and Interns

Understanding J-1 Visas

The J visa is reserved for a number of programs that fall under the broad category of “exchange visitor” visas.  All J-1 visa holders are expected to return to their home country upon completion of their program. The US Department of State designates U.S. government and academic and private sector entities to conduct the J-1 exchange programs. At Becker & Lee LLP, our attorneys work directly with these entities to help obtain sponsorship for our clients.

Although the J-1 program includes a number of programs – including categories for au pairs, camp counselors, secondary school students – our firm works only with two categories: (1) Career Training Program; and (2) Internship Programs. We also work with J-1 Waivers.

Qualifications for the Career Training Program (maximum of 18 months)

  • 20 years old or older
  • Speak English at an advanced level
  • Have a degree or professional certificate from a foreign post-secondary academic institution AND at least one year of work experience related to field of study acquired outside the U.S., OR have five years of work experience related to field of study acquired outside the U.S.
  • Training responsibilities must align with field of study

Qualifications for the Internship Program (maximum of 12 months)

  • 18 years old or older
  • Speak English at an advanced level
  • Be a current full-time student at a post-secondary institution outside the U.S. and have completed at least 2 semesters at post-secondary academic institution, OR be a recent graduate of such an institution able to start an internship program within 12 months of graduation date
  • Internship responsibilities must align with field of study

Spouses and Children of J-1 Visa Holders

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of certain J-1 visa holders may be eligible for J-2 visas. In order for a spouse or minor child to obtain a J-2 visa, the sponsoring entity must approve the accompaniment of the spouse and/or child and the family member must be issue this or her own Form DS-2019. After entering the US, J-2 visa holders are eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document.

What are J-1 Waivers?

When a J visa holder is subject to the 2-year home residency requirement, that person must either return home for a period of two years or apply for and obtain an approved J-1 waiver before he or she can obtain an H or L visa or lawful permanent resident status. J-1 waivers can be based on “no objection” letters, extreme hardship or persecution. J-1 waiver analysis is complicated in part because not all waivers are available to every J-1 visa holder. The underlying trigger for the two-year home residency rule must be carefully analyzed to determine which, if any, waivers might be available. We have successfully helped applicants obtain J-1 waivers so they could avoid returning home for two-years.

Connecting Your Business With International Talent

At Becker & Lee LLP, employment-based immigration is one of our primary practice areas. Our experienced attorneys have worked with a range of talented individuals, employers and human resources professionals to help trainees and interns with their J-1 visa process.Past clients include California universities, Silicon Valley tech companies, design firms, real estate companies and a range of additional start-ups and businesses.

Our J-1 visa lawyers offer comprehensive representation to help ensure legal compliance and help increase chances of success in the visa application process.  Contact our San Francisco Bay Area law firm to learn more about your options.