J Visas - Exchange Visitors

J visas are for exchange visitors to the United States. Exchange visitors include: professors; research scholars; trainees or interns; college or university students; teachers; secondary school students; foreign physicians; au pairs; and others. All J visa programs must be approved by the State Department. J visa applicants must prove that sufficient funds are available to support the applicant during his or her time in the United States. J visa applicants must also be fluent in English, maintain sufficient medical insurance, and maintain a residence abroad.

Foreign Residency Requirement

Certain J visa holders are subject to a two-year foreign residency requirement. The foreign residency requirement applies to exchange visitors whose participation was sponsored by the U.S. government or a foreign government, exchange visitors that are engaged in a field listed on the State Department's Exchange Visitors Skills List, and exchange visitors that came to the United States to receive graduate medical training or education. USCIS may grant a waiver of the foreign residency requirement in some circumstances. A waiver may be granted on the basis of possible persecution should the foreign national return to his or her home country, or where departure from the U.S. would impose exceptional hardship on the U.S. citizen spouse or child of the foreign national. U.S. federal agencies may also request that a foreign national receive a waiver of the residency requirement. A more common type of waiver is no-objection waiver. Foreign countries may issue no-objection statements regarding the J visa holder that intends to stay in the U.S.

Waivers of the two-year foreign residency requirement are also available to International Medical Graduates. The waivers may be granted by state or federal agencies interested in facilitating employment of the graduate in a federally designated medically underserved area. State agencies may also recommend waivers to work in medically underserved areas pursuant to what is often called the Conrad 30 program. Basic requirements for applicants to the Conrad 30 program include practicing primary care or specialty medicine for 3 years in the underserved area. Individual states including Kansas and Missouri provide information regarding opportunities to apply for positions for which a waiver may be approved.

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