J1 Visa Lawyer, Boston MA

DS 2019 Visa Attorney Dayna Lally assists foreign nationals in applying to participate in work- and study-based exchange visitor programs in the United States.

As a DS 160 exchange visitor lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts, Dayna Lally helps foreign students gain an education, build new skills, and teach others.

Overview: What is a J-1 Visa?

J-1 visas are nonimmigrant visas which permit foreign nationals to come to the United States temporarily to participate in work- and study-based exchange visitor programs.

J-1 exchange programs are designed to promote the interchange or persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts, and science.


J-1 visas are available to foreign nationals who are eager to learn or build skills that will help them professionally, strengthen their English language abilities, connect with Americans, and learn more about the United States.

The Exchange Visitor Program is broken down into fifteen different categories.

Thirteen of these categories are privately-funded programs that are implemented under the auspices of the Office of Private Sector Exchange in the Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs:

  • Professor or research scholar;
  • Short-term scholar;
  • Bona fide trainee;
  • Intern, college or university student;
  • Teacher;
  • Secondary school student;
  • Nonacademic specialist;
  • Foreign physician;
  • International visitor;
  • Government visitor;
  • Camp counselor;
  • Au pair; or
  • Summer student in work/travel program.

The two publicly funded cateogries are:

  • International Visitors; and
  • Government Visitors.

To be eligible for a J-1 visa, exchange visitors must:

  • Have been accepted to participate, and intend to participate, in an exchange visitor program designated by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs;
  • Have sufficient funds to cover expenses or have made other arrangements to provide for expenses; and
  • Have sufficient knowledge of the English language to undertake the program selected.

Exchange visitors coming to the United States to participate in a graduate medical education or training program are subject to additional requirements.

Required Documents

J-1 exchange visitor visa applications must include the following:

  • DS 2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status;
  • Form DS-7002, A Training/Internship Placement Plan (if applicable);
  • Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application;
  • Passport, that is valid at least six months beyond the date of intended stay in the United States; and
  • One 2 x 2 passport-style photograph.

J-1 visa applicants must also demonstrate to the consular officer that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country which they have no intention of abandoning, and that they are coming to the United States for a temporary period.

To determine if there are any additional documentation items required by reviewing the U.S. embassy or consulate website, visit the U.S. Embassy website.

Petition Process

J-1 exchange visitors should contact a designated sponsor to inquire about a specific program and its application requirements.

J-1 visa applicants from age fourteen through seventy-nine must attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, with few exceptions.


J-1 exchange visitor visa applicants must pay a SEVIS I-901 fee (if not included as part of the program fees of the sponsoring organization) as well as the $160 fee for Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application.

Processing Time

J-1 exchange visitor visas are processed at varying speeds depending on a variety of circumstances. Visit the U.S. Department of State website for the most up-to-date information on visa processing times.

Validity Period

J-1 exchange visitor visa validity periods vary. The validity period of a J-1 visa depends on the nature of the visa and the reciprocity schedule the United States has with the J-1 exchange visitor’s home country.

J-1 exchange visitors may not enter the United States more than thirty days before the program start date on the DS-2019.

J-1 exchange visitors may remain thirty days post-completion to travel and/or prepare to depart.


J-1 exchange visitors may request to extend their J-1 status for certain programs. J-1 exchange visitor programs such as the summer work/travel program do not permit visa extensions.

J-1 exchange visitors who remain in the United States longer than authorized may be barred from returning and/or may be removed (deported) from the United States.

Family Members

Spouse and children accompanying J-1 exchange visitors are eligible for admission in J-2 status. J-2 status is granted for the same validity period as the J-1 exchange visitor.

J-2 dependents may apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with fee. J-2 dependents may accept employment.

Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

J-1 exchange visitors may be subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement.

J-1 exchange visitors are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement if any of the following conditions exist:

  • Government funded exchange program– The program is financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor’s nationality or last residence;
  • Graduate medical education or training– The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training;
  • Specialized knowledge or skill: Skills List– The exchange visitor is a national or permanent resident of a country which has deemed the field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country, as shown on the Exchange Visitor Skills List.

See the Exchange Visitor Skills List 2009.

J-1 exchange visitors who are subject to the two-year home residency requirement must generally return to their home country upon completion of their training in the United States before they may apply for a change of status, immigrant visa, or adjustment of status.

Waiver Application

J-1 exchange visitors may request a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement in one of five ways:

  • No Objection Statement;
  • Request by an Interested U.S. Federal Government Agency;
  • Persecution;
  • Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. Citizen (or lawful permanent resident) Spouse or Child of an Exchange Visitor; or
  • Request by a Designated State Public Health Department or its Equivalent (“Conrad State 30 Program”).

J-1 waiver process is complex. Contact our office directly with further inquiries.

Have an Immigration Question?

If you have a question about immigration or would like to schedule a free consultation for a marriage-based green card application, contact Dayna Lally using the contact form below.

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