What is a J-1 visa?
UPDATED: February 6, 2012
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The J-1 visa category is typically used by foreign students, medical interns and residents, business trainees, scholars and experts. The J-1 visa is the predominant visa category among temporary student visas as it offers a wider variety of educational options; however, the program is not restricted to students. The J-1 visa came out of the intention to promote exchange of information between countries. As such, interns and scholars can also apply to obtain more information to exchange with their native country.
The J-1 visa also allows for varying time periods depending on your educational objectives. If you want to pursue and complete a degree program, the J-1 visa process can authorize you to remain in the United States long enough to complete the degree requirements. If you do not want to pursue a degree, but would rather just complete a series of classes, you can still obtain a J-1 student visa and remain in the United States for up to 24 months.
Employment Options with the J-1 Visa
Another major advantage is the potential convenience of employment options. Through the J-1 student visa, you are allowed to work part-time on campus without submitting a separate request for a work permit. Conversely, if you receive an F-1 student visa and want to work part-time, you are required to submit and obtain specific approval to work. Both student visa programs generally limit work to 20 hours per week. Non-compliance can result in your discharge from the program and, thereby, revocation of your student visa.
Other Student Visa Options
Even though the J-1 visa is the predominant visa category, you should still take time to review all of your student visa options. If you enter the United States through an F-1 student visa, you may be able to convert your status to a J-1 visa, assuming that you meet the J-1 visa program requirements. An immigration attorney or your foreign student advisor can assist you in selecting the student visa category that best fits your situation and your educational objectives.