The Exchange Visitor Program and J1 Visas


Students from abroad have been coming to the United States as part of the Exchange Visitor Program for more than 50 years.

The EVP was set up in 1961 under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act. Under the program, overseas nationals can live in the United States and take part in educational courses or training programs. The program was set up to promote mutual understanding between countries and the courses are often reciprocal.

Woman holding up multiple flags

The Exchange Visitor program attracts many nationalities

Students who wish to take part in the program must obtain a J-1 visa which is a non-immigrant visa category that allows recipients into the USA if they are approved to participate in work and study-based exchange visitor programs.

There are 14 different programs set out under the J-1 visa. The length of time you are allowed to remain in the US on a J-1 visa varies from six months for a short-term scholar to five years for a professor or a research scholar

Initially, the program only applied to researchers, but it has been progressively widened. The present categories are as follows:

Camp counselors : Many young people from overseas get an introduction to America as camp counselors. They may be students from foreign universities or colleges, teachers or youth workers.

University and college students: Many overseas students take part in degree programs at American universities or internship programs at academic institutions.

Au pairs: There’s plenty of demand for au pairs in American families. They are often young women from Europe or Asia who live with a host family for a year and provide child care at the same time as attending courses at an accredited American post-secondary institution.

Interns: There are numerous internship programs that are intended to give overseas students or recent graduates the opportunity to be exposed to business in the United States.

Government visitors: J-1 visas are used when government departments in the U.S. select influential or important foreign nationals to take part in fact-finding tours, consultations, discussions, workshops or visits to strengthen ties between nations important foreign nationals and U.S. institutions.

International visitors: Foreign leaders are selected by the Department of State to participate in programs designed to enable the international visitors to better understand American culture and society and enhance American knowledge of foreign cultures.

Physicians: Under the alien physician program, overseas doctors can join U.S. graduate medical education programs or enroll in training courses at accredited schools of medicine.

Professors or research scholars: These two programs allow for longer periods of study in the U.S. They allow distinguished academics to exchange ideas and to solidify links between academic and research facilities in the U.S. and abroad.

Secondary school students: Younger students can also apply for J-1 visas. If you attend an accredited public or private high school, you could be eligible to attend an American school and live with a host family.

Short-term scholars: These six-month visas are available for academics and other qualified individuals. They may train, lecture or demonstrate other skills at an American academic institution.

Specialists: Academia and commerce always need experts. A J-1 visa allows those with special knowledge to travel to the U.S. to exchange their ideas with their American experts.

Summer work travel: Full-time university or college students at foreign post-secondary accredited academic institutions regularly visit the US to share their ideas with their counterparts in the summer months.

Teachers: Visas can be obtained by overseas educators who apply to teach full-time at a primary or secondary school in K-12 classrooms in the United States.

Trainee Programs : The Exchange Visitor Program includes programs that are designed to permit foreign professionals to visit the United States to be exposed to U.S. culture and to receive training in U.S. business practices in their specific occupational field.

Applying for visas typically requires a considerable amount of paperwork and complexity. Our Austin visa attorneys can take the burden off you by helping you with the process. Read more about visas here, or call us at  (512) 399-2311.

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