There are various ways you can enter the United States of America. One of them is the US J-1. In this article, we will explain the basics on whether you are eligible for one (and therefore how to make yourself eligible for one) and some tips around this process. Make sure you meet the requirements before you apply!
Who is eligible for a US J-1 visa
The visa is generally given to people who are going on an exchange work program in the US. Several programs qualify under this category.
Au pair or EduCare
Through an au pair program, a foreign young person (in this case, of non-US citizenship) applies to gain work experience by helping with housework and/or childcare in exchange for accommodation, food, and some pocket money.
This program is especially attractive for young people looking to gain experience of cultural exchange in the US and simply explore the world. Working as an au pair is also a great chance to practice your English skills.
EduCare programs are similar to au pairs, but they require higher skills and hire you to work in more specific conditions. EduCare au pairs work with school-aged children to promote school readiness, so according to this, the working hours are specific: before and after school.
These programs may also be ideal if you are looking to study in the US, as the host family will also provide some study contributions of up to $1000 a year. In general, this program is more tailored to those who are not only looking to gain cultural but study experience as well.
Summer work travel (work-and-travel)
For students enrolled in post-secondary full-time studies outside the US, this program welcomes you to gain work experience during your summer holidays. To qualify for a visa for this program, applicants must be enrolled for at least one semester before applying, and have a job placement before entry to the United States.
This program is similar to the summer work travel program because it is also available to students enrolled in post-secondary academic institutions looking to gain work experience in the US. It is also open for graduates from such institutions, but no later than 12 months after their graduation.
While this program does not have the same time frame as the summer travel program, it is worth noting the difference between internships and job placements. Internship and job offers generally differ, so do check with your future employer.
Secondary school student
Students enrolled in foreign secondary schools may also enter the United States to study and gain experience of American life and education. Through this program, such students will have to be enrolled in an accredited public or private high school in the US. As for accommodation, they live with their American host families or at an accredited boarding school.
Have you seen those American movies in which teens go to summer camps and have the time of their lives? Well, through this program you could take part in such camps by becoming a camp counselor.
Who can become camp counselors? If you’re over the age of 18, are a foreign post-secondary student, youth worker, teacher, or an individual with skills needed at such camps, you may look to apply to such programs.
If you are a qualified teacher looking for an enriching cultural and educational experience in the US, this may be the right program for you. By entering the US through this program, you will have to teach full-time at a primary (including pre-kindergarten) or secondary accredited educational institution.
This program is way more specific, but if you are an employee of your government, especially in institutions and departments with partnerships with your American counterparts, you may look to enter the US as a government visitor.
This is especially useful for governmental workers looking to broaden their horizons concerning their professional sphere and gain new insight from their American counterparts.
To enter the US as an international visitor, you will have to be chosen by the US Department of State. International visitors are invited to strengthen ties with key US institutions and citizens.
This profession is always in high demand and it is no surprise that the US welcomes such professionals with the J-1 visa. Foreign physicians entering through this program are required to have adequate prior education, training, experience, and certifications to participate satisfactorily in the program for which they are coming to the United States. So if you are a physician looking to add study credits under your belt, you may look into this program according to your specialty and education.
The US encourages the exchange of ideas in academia, and this is one of the ways they are doing so. This program would be ideal for academics looking to enrich their academic experience. Specifically, this program looks for foreign nationals who enter the United States to teach, lecture, observe, or consult at accredited post-secondary educational institutions.
This program also welcomes academics to enrich their experience and contribute to academia in the United States. The difference is that research scholars enter the United States to conduct research, observe or consult in connection with research projects at research institutions. Teaching is not the focus here, but it is allowed with the approval of the responsible officer.
Yet another way for academics to enter the US, this program grants entry to professors, research scholars, and other academics with similar education or experience to also contribute to academia in the US. Under this program, academics lecture, observe, consult, train, or demonstrate skills at research or academic institutions.
Outside of academia, this is a way experts in specific fields can enter the US, share their knowledge and get educational enrichment in return. This program encourages experts to observe, consult, or demonstrate their expert knowledge or skills in order to take part in the interchange of knowledge.
Through this program, foreign professionals may enter the US to gain training in US businesses according to their field of profession. Such professionals must have a degree or professional certificate from their local post-secondary academic institution and at least a year of work experience in their field outside the US. Professionals with at least five years of work experience in their field also qualify.
As there are many programs covered under the US J-1 visa, requirements vary not only according to the programs but also the sponsor, institutions, and figures you will cooperate or work with.
Here are the general requirements:
- English proficiency as required by your program
- Proof of the required qualifications
- Possession of health insurance
- Proof of payment of all the premiums administrative fees
Once you know for sure that you qualify, have a program lined and ready for your entrance to the United States, you may apply for your US J-1 visa and follow the procedures. Good luck!