Mary Baldwin hosts international students, scholars and faculty who enter the U.S. on J-1, exchange visitor visas. In order to qualify for a J-1 visa,you must:
- Have an agreement with MBC which details your duties and responsibilities and those of MBC, or an offer of admission for one semester or academic year;
- Have the monetary funds available to you for the duration of your stay. You may be able to satisfy this requirement with MBC salary, your home institution’s sponsorship, family funds or other sponsor;
- Have the intention of returning to your home country after the completion of your program. The J-1 visa is a temporary visa, and when you visit the U.S. Consulate or Embassy to apply you will be asked about your intentions to return to your home country.
- Be aware that many J-1 visa holders are subject to a 2-year foreign residency requirement. This means that following your stay in the U.S., you may be unable to obtain certain other visas or immigration benefits until you have returned home for at least two years. See below or go to http://www.ice.gov/graphics/index.htm for additional information on the 2-year foreign residency requirement;
- Abide by all immigration regulations once you have entered the U.S., as further explained in Maintaining J-1 Status at the end of this handbook.
2-Year Home Residency Requirement
- U.S. law provides that certain J-1 visa holders must return to their home country and be physically present there for two years before being eligible to return to the U.S. in immigrant (permanent resident/green card) status, H (temporary worker) status, or L (intracompany transferees) status.
- In addition, while in the U.S. persons subject to this rule will not be eligible to change their nonimmigrant status from J to permanent resident or to any other nonimmigrant category except A or G.
- You are subject to this rule if:
- Your exchange program is sponsored by the U.S. or foreign government;
- The skills you are coming to the U.S. to develop or exercise are in a field which your home government requested be included on a skills list kept by the U.S. Department of State;
- You are coming to receive “graduate medical education or training.”
- If you are subject to this rule, it should be noted on your visa, but that is not always the case.
- For additional information about this requirement, please see information provided by the U.S. Department of State: http://exchanges.state.gov/education/jexchanges/participation/waivers.htm
- It is mandatory that all J-1 visitors have medical insurance coverage while attending MBC. You must obtain this coverage as soon as you enter the United States and provide proof of the coverage to the Director of International Programs. If you need assistance in locating appropriate health insurance carriers, please contact the Spencer Center immediately upon arrival.
- For additional information regarding the government’s requirements related to health insurance coverage, please see: http://exchanges.state.gov/jexchanges/sponsors/how-to-administer-a-rogram/administration.html#insurance
Dependent J-2 requirements
A scholar in J-1 status may choose to bring his/her family members to the United States for the duration of his/her stay. Each J-2 dependent is issued a DS-2019 in his or her own name and must obtain a valid passport and visa for entry into the U.S. The following regulations apply to J-2 dependents:
- The J-2 dependent’s status is valid only if the J-1 scholar maintains status;
- Adult individuals in J-2 status may only engage in study that is vocational or recreational (not in pursuit of a degree or professional certification);
- Children in J-2 status are permitted to attend elementary or secondary school full-time as long as their J-1 parent maintains his/her legal status;
- Should a dependent wish to study at a post-secondary school, s/he may apply for a change of status to J-1 (or F-1) but s/he is not permitted to begin full-time study until his/her status is approved by the USCIS, or s/he leaves the country and re-enters on a valid J-1 or F-1 visa;
- A J-2 dependent child must change his/her status to another appropriate visa category prior to his/her 21st birthday if s/he wishes to remain in the United States;
- A J-2 dependent may request employment authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service but may not engage in employment until an approval of that request is received, which may take several months. In order for the J-2 dependent to obtain permission to work, s/he must be able to show that the salary s/he will receive is not needed for the support of the J-1 exchange visitor.