J1 Waiver Basics

(1) What is a J-1 Visa?

A 'J' visa is a visa given to individuals pursuing a specific, non-permanent educational objective, including, but not limited to medical residency/fellowship training, teaching, and conducting research.

Individuals who qualify for a J-1 Visa include:

- Physicians
- Professors and Research Scholars
- Trainees
- International Visitors
- Government Visitors
- College and University Students
- Short-term scholars

(2) What is the two-year home residency requirement? Who is subject?

The two-year home residency requirement stipulates that some holders of J-1 Visas must return to their home countries for a two-year period prior to obtaining H or L Visas or permanent residence status in the U.S.

In general, the two year home residency requirement applies to:

- physicians entering the U.S. to pursue graduate medical education or training in the U.S.;
- individuals whose J visa programs are financed by the U.S. government or by the individual's foreign government; and
- individuals whose occupations or courses of study appear on the Exchange-Visitor's skills list published by the United States Information Agency.

Please refer to the web site section which contains more detailed information

(3) In which countries may the two-year foreign residence requirement be satisfied?

The two year foreign residence requirement may only be satisfied in the country of the applicant's nationality or the applicant's last permanent residence.

(4) What is the duration of the J-1 visa?

The duration of stay permitted by a J-1 Visa depends on the rules established by your particular Visitor Exchange program. Your IAP-66 or Certificate of Eligibility should designate your maximum length of stay. You may be eligible to extend your stay under the J-1 Visa if your total stay period does not exceed the maximum duration of stay for the program and your program sponsor agrees to your extension.

The most common J-1 categories along with its corresponding lengths of stay are listed below:

Category and Duration of Stay
- Secondary School - 12 months
- Specialists - 12 months
- International Visitors - 12 months
- Government Visitors - 18 months
- Business Trainees - 18 months
- Non-degree college/university student - 24 months
- Flight/Aviation Trainees - 24 months
- Primary/Secondary School Teacher - 36 months
- College Professor - 36 months
- Research Scholar - 36 months
- College/University Students (for degree)
Duration of practical training program following graduation
- Medical Residents/Interns receiving medical training in the U.S.
Duration of residency program (7 year maximum)

Special note to Medical Residents / Fellows:
There are only really two (2) good reasons why you would start your residency / fellowship on J1 visa – they are:
- the program does not sponsor H1B visas; or
- you were not able to pass USMLE Step 3, which is required for H1B visa issuance.