J1 student visa

The J-1 visa is granted to foreigners through an exchange program. International visitors who seek to participate in any educational or cultural exchange program must obtain a J-1 visa from the United States consular office in their home country before proceeding to the United States.

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    The Visitor Exchange Program

    Canadian students seeking entry into the United States are not required to apply for a visa at the United States Consular office in Canada. However, they must obtain a visa change status upon entry into the States. The immigration status can only be obtained by submitting the required documents.

    The visitor exchange program is usually a short-term and temporary program. Because of the short-term nature of the program, visitors under the visa will be allowed very limited privileges and the barest minimum entitlements.  After their program, the visitors are expected to return to their home country to utilize this knowledge immediately.

    While their program is on, these visa holders may participate in limited work, subject to certain exceptions. Specifically, where the J-1 visa holder’s program involves some form of work, they may be permitted to work as a part of their program. On the flip side, those whose programs have no work element may be restricted from working.

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      The J1 Visa For Canadians

      A Canadian citizen is not required to obtain a visa to study or participate in an exchange program in the United States. They are instead expected to secure a J-1 visa status. The difference between the status and the visa is that Canadian citizens don’t need to visit the United States consular office in Canada for any visa interview before proceeding to the United States.

      They are, however, expected to obtain the Form DS-2019 “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange students (J-1) Status” from the student exchange program they plan to attend. Upon receiving the Form DS-2019, the student will be registered with SEVIS, the student tracking system. They will be assigned a SEVIS number and must pay a SEVIS registration fee. They will be expected to provide this form to the immigration office before they enter the U.S to begin their exchange program in the United States.

      The SEVIS fee must be paid at least 3 days before students with Canadian citizenship cross the border and enter the U.S. Where this payment has not been made, the visitor will have to re-enter a second time.

      J1 Visa Document Checklist

      Whether the visitor enters by land or by air, the following are the documents that must be presented at the point of entry:

      • A valid Canadian passport;
      • The original Form DS-2019 certificate;
      • A valid proof of the payment of the SEVIS fee;
      • Proof of ability to pay school fees and living expenses in the United States;
      • Proof of ties to Canada. The evidence can include an offer of employment, money, or other assets in Canada plans on how your education/work in the U.S. will help your career in your home country, family and property ties, etc.
      • Entry into the United States can begin from not earlier than 30 days to the commencement of the exchange program.

      Categories Of Exchange Visitors

      Generally, the categories of exchange visitor programs that can access this visa include:

      • Interns and trainees.
      • Au pairs.
      • Camp counsellors.
      • Scholars in high school or college.
      • Teachers or lecturers.
      • Researchers at various institutions.
      • International student or visitor.
      • Medical practitioners.
      • Individuals are invited directly by the government of the United States.

      Other recognized categories can be found on the official website of the Department of States.

      The United States government must approve the programs and institutions to host such a program. The host must apply to the United States Department of State for the needed approval.

      The exchange programs are run by United States institutions and organizations, referred to as the sponsors. The sponsors must be enrolled in the United States’ SEVIS system of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The SEVIS system represents the means of registering, tracking, and monitoring all international students and exchange visitors in the United States. Upon approval, the visitor may proceed to start accepting exchange visitors.

      j1 visa

      Residency Requirement

      After the program, the exchange visitors must return to their home country to participate in a two-year residency. The mandate of the two years residency program doesn’t apply to all exchange students program participants.

      The categories of exchange visitors that must comply with this requirement include:

      • Foreigners are funded by the government – either in the United States, their home country, or their last residence. This requirement shall apply whether the financing was part or full and directly or indirectly by a United States government agency. The funding information is usually stated on the DS-2019 form of the visitor.
      • Visitors from countries that the United States Information Agency identifies as needing persons skilled in a field or skill – which skill is the engagement of the foreign national in the visitor program. The United States Department of State has a database known as the “skills list.”
      • Foreigners who participate in the visitor program for graduate medical education or training.

      Exemption Of Residency Requirement

      However, these categories of people can be granted an exemption from applying these requirements. They can be recipients of a waiver subject to the discretion of the USCIS where:

      They had the financing or funding of their home country or are subject to the “skills list” but:

      • Have received a ‘no objection letter from their home government;
      • An interested United States government agency has issued a request for the waiver;
      • The visitor can show that if they leave the United States and return to their home country or last residence, they will be subjected to persecution based on their religious belief, political inclination, or race.
      • Evidence is be presented that their departure from the United States would put their spouse or child who is resident or citizens of the United States of America in a precarious situation.
      • They are subject to the requirement because of their graduate medical visitor  program, but
      • Have received a “no objection” letter from their home government. They must work full-time in a medically underserved area for 3 years.
      • An interested United States government agency or State Department of Public Health or its equivalent has issued a request for the waiver
      • The visitor can show that if they leave the United States and return to their home country or last residence, they will be subjected to persecution based on their religious belief, political inclination, or race.
      • Evidence is be presented that their departure from the United States would put their spouse or child who is a resident or citizen of the United States of America in a precarious situation.

      The Form DS-2019 And SEVIS

      As stated earlier, all participants in the program must obtain the Form DS-2019 and be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

      The Form DS-2019

      The form, known as the “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status,” is the fundamental document for the visitor program. It permits a candidate for the visitor program to officially begin obtaining an exchange visitor visa status to enter the United States.

      The approved sponsor issues the form to the selected candidates participating in their exchange visitor program. The form contains some information filled in by the sponsor before the participant is given. The visitor must have received this form before receiving the required permission to enter the United States.

      The DS-2019 contains information that identifies the sponsor and the visitor. It gives a summary description of the program. The information contained in the form may include the date of commencement and completion, the category of exchange, and an estimate of the cost of the exchange program.

      Inquiries about the form should be directed to the sponsor. The sponsor’s contact information, including the name and telephone number, can be found on the Form DS-2019. The sponsor will best handle all questions about the Form DS-2019. They are responsible for guiding candidates on visitor program matters.

      SEVIS

      The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is domiciled within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is web-based and maintains information about J-1 visa Exchange Visitor Program participants in the United States (and their J-2 dependents), F-1 and M-1 students studying in the United States (and their F-2 and M-2 dependents), Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools in the United States, and the United States Department of State approved Exchange Visitor Program sponsors.

      SEVP-certified schools use SEVIS to issue Form DS-2019, “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status,” to non-immigrant visitors and their accompanying dependents. Through SEVIS, the school provides information regarding student addresses, courses of study, enrollment, employment, and compliance with the terms of their student or Exchange Visitor status. They can also transfer the visitor SEVIS records to other institutions.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  No, Canadian citizens are visa-exempt from all visa requirements to enter the United States. However, they are expected to obtain a visa status upon entry into the United States.

                  Yes, you can convert your J-1 visa status to another type of visa, including H1-B, F-1, O-1, etc. You need to comply with certain requirements to qualify.

                  Yes. Your family members will have to apply for and obtain the J-2 visa to join you in the United States.