exchange visa

The J-1 Visa Category is used by foreign students, scholars, experts, medical interns and residents, “international visitors,” and industrial and business trainees to enter the United States as “exchange visitors,” in U.S. government-approved exchange visitor programs. The permissible period of stay for exchange visitors varies depending on the exchange visitor category in which the visitor is admitted. If the exchange visitor’s period of stay is to be extended beyond the period of time indicated on the original IAP-66, the program sponsor simply completes a Form IAP-66 with the new expiration date and notifies the USIA of the change. A separate application for extension of stay does not need to be filed with the INS. Foreign medical graduates participating in U.S. internships and residencies may be admitted for the length of their program, with a usual maximum of 7 years. A two-year foreign residence requirement is imposed on some categories of exchange aliens once their U.S. stay is completed. Any J-1 exchange visitor subject to the foreign residence requirement is ineligible for permanent residence or nonimmigrant visas in the H or L category until he or she spends two years after completion of stay in his or her home country of the last residence. Some waivers of the requirement are available in special cases.

Foreign Residence Requirement Waivers: If the exchange alien is subject to the foreign residence requirement, a waiver of the requirement may be granted under one of the following four conditions:

  • A “no objection” letter is issued by the alien’s government to the USIA, stating that the foreign government has no objection to the alien remaining in the U.S. (these waivers are unavailable to exchange visitors subject to section 212(e) because they received graduate medical training or education in the United States.)
  • The exchange visitor’s compliance with the foreign residence requirement would result in exceptional hardship to his or her U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child.
  • The exchange visitor would be subject to persecution upon returning home.
  • An interested U.S. government agency (IGA) seeks a waiver on behalf of the exchange alien.

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