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What is a J-1 visa?

If you are a typical California resident, you probably have never heard of the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program. The Department of State explains that this program and its visa allows over 300,000 foreign visitors from 200 countries and territories to experience American society each year by working and/or studying in this country.

In 2016, there were thousands of J-1 visa holders living in California, including the following:

  • 35 physicians
  • 6,326 professors and research scholars
  • 3,761 specialists
  • 292 teachers
  • 1,737 trainees

International Visitor Program

The IVP category of visa encompasses 15 individual programs designed to develop and strengthen professional and personal ties between key foreign nationals and American individuals and institutions. The foreign visitors must meet the following three requirements:

  1. They must be selected by the U.S. Department of State.
  2. They must be engaged in research, training, consultation, observation or be demonstrating their special skills.
  3. They must be potential or recognized leaders in their field of specialized knowledge or skill.

Thirteen of the 15 programs are privately funded and implemented through the Office of Private Sector Exchange in the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Visitors may do research, teach, study, receive on-the-job training, and otherwise share their specialized skills for a specific period ranging from a few weeks to several years.

Each program’s sponsoring organization(s) select their own foreign participants and support and monitor them during their American stay. You will be interested to know that California has two such sponsoring organizations: Alliant International University, Inc. in San Diego and Azusa Pacific University in Azusa.

This information is provided to you for educational purposes. You should not interpret it as legal advice.

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