The J visa, created in 1961, is an underutilized visa program that classes as a non-immigrant visa. This visa allows its holders the ability to work and study in the United States under exchange-visitor programs that promote education and culture. In a given month, the United States has about 170,000 J Visa holders, and an estimated 7000 J Visa holders working or studying in North Carolina.
Generally, a J Visa is initially good for 3 years with two 1-year extensions that can occur thereafter. Moreover, a J Visa is limited to specific employments and educations. The education field and the medical field are difficult areas to acquire qualified individuals. With the benefit of a worldly view, J Visa Holders not only meet any needed requirements, but they also add something extra to the employment or education.
Like other employment and student visas, a J Visa holder must prove that they do not have an intent to immigrate to the U.S. This non-immigration intent is usually proven by future home-country employment offered prior to the J Visa holder initially leaving their country, or it may be proven by their strong family connection, financial obligations, or ownership of property in the home country.
However, unlike other employment and student visas, J Visa Holders have two unique benefits. First, a J-1 holder is able to have their spouse and child (under the age of 21) accompany them. They would receive a J-2 visa and would be eligible to receive an employment authorization document (EAD), giving them the ability to work in the United States. Second, a J Visa holder, through a DS-2019, does not have to rush out of the U.S. after the end date of a J Visa. In fact, a J Visa holder is given a 30 day grace period after a Visa’s termination. This is a benefit because it allows the J Visa to tour the U.S. prior to leaving, or to calmly make all exit preparations.
If you are a current J Visa holder and have any questions about possibly immigrating, you should speak with a local immigration attorney.
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