A J-1 exchange visitor is an alien coming temporarily to the United States as a participant in a program designated the Director of the US Information Agency for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills or receiving training. The J-1 exchange visitor must fall under the following classifications:
- Physician (including foreign medical graduate)
- Research assistant
- International visitor
- Government visitor
- Camp counselor
- Au pair
- Leader in a field of specialized knowledge or skill
The following is a more complete description of some of the categories of J-1 exchange visitors:
This category includes graduates of foreign medical schools pursuing graduate medical education or training at United States accredited schools of medicine or scientific institutions. The training may be clinical or non-clinical.
In order to pursue medical residencies and other clinical training in the United States as a J-1, the alien must enter the United States under the sponsorship of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). An alien who participates in this type of exchange visitor program is subject to a two-year home country physical presence requirement, which is rarely waived. However, it should be noted that the H-1B visa may be available for certain alien physicians who have not yet satisfied the two-year home residence requirement.
Foreign nationals from the age of 18-26, who are secondary school graduates and proficient in English, may participate in an au pair program. The au pair lives with a United States host family and provides limited child care services while attending an accredited post-secondary institution. The au pair may work no more than 45 hours a week and must be enrolled for at least six academic credit hours (but courses may be taken for audit, rather than for credit). To obtain a J-1 visa as an au pair, the foreign national:
- Must possess at least eight hours of child safety instruction;
- May not care for infants under three months of age without a responsible adult being present;
- Must be granted three days initially to adjust before beginning work; and
- May care for children under two years of age only if the au pair has six months of prior infant care experience.