J-1 Visas - Trainees and Exchange Visitors

The J-1 nonimmmigrant visa classification is authorized for those who intend to participate in an approved program for any of the following purposes:

  • teaching;
  • instructing or lecturing;
  • cultural exchange;
  • studying or observing;
  • conducting research;
  • consulting;
  • demonstrating special skills;
  • receiving training, or;
  • receiving graduate medical education or training.

In carrying out the responsibilities of the Exchange Visitor Program, the U.S. Department of State designates public and private entities to act as Exchange Sponsors. J-1 nonimmigrants are therefore sponsored by an exchange program approved by the U.S. Department of State. These programs are designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and science.

Examples of exchange visitors include, but are not limited to:

  • Professors or scholars;
  • Research assistants;
  • Students;
  • Trainees;
  • Teachers;
  • Specialists;
  • Nannies/Au pairs;
  • Camp counselors

Application Process

The U.S. Department of State plays the primary role in administering the J-1 exchange visitor program, so the first step in obtaining a J-1 visa is to submit a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, (formerly known as an IAP-66). This form will be provided by the approved sponsoring agency. J-1 applicants should work closely with the officials at the sponsoring agency who will assist through this process. An official who is authorized to issue Form DS-2019 is known as a Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO). The RO or ARO will provide information on what documents are needed in order to be issued a DS-2019.

After the Form DS-2019 has been issued, the applicant may then apply for a J-1 visa through the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. embassy or consulate.


Some J-1 nonimmigrants enter the United States specifically to work (as a researcher, trainee, nanny, etc.) while others do not. Employment is authorized for J-1 nonimmigrants only under the terms of the exchange program.

Family Members of J-1 Visa Holders

A J-1 visa holder's spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, are entitled to J-2 classification. The spouse and children are entitled to work authorization, but must apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS before beginning employment.

Goel & Anderson's J-1 visa services include assisting employers in developing training programs and obtaining Department of State approval, as well as matching employers and employees with existing J-1 program sponsors. For more information, please contact us to schedule an in-person or telephonic consultation.