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What is J-1 Non-Immigrant Status?

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A nonimmigrant is a foreign citizen who visits the United States for a temporary purpose – tourism, work, or study – and, when finished, leaves the United States. Before being permitted to visit the United States as a nonimmigrant, foreign citizens must prove their nonimmigrant intent.

When non-immigrants apply to visit to the United States, they must declare their primary purpose for visiting. Non-immigrants must declare this purpose at least twice: once when applying for a visa at a United States embassy or consulate and again at the U.S. port-of-entry (POE) where they arrive in the United States. The declared primary purpose determines the type of visa needed and the nonimmigrant class of admission when admitted at the POE.

An J-1 nonimmigrant status, therefore, is granted to individuals whose main purpose for entering the United States (U.S.) is to complete specific exchange program and then return to their home country upon completion of that program.

The J Exchange Visitor category was developed to implement the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hayes Act) of 1961. The overall purpose of that Act, and the objective of the Exchange Visitor category, is "to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges."

The J exchange visitor category is a SEVIS category, meaning all exchange visitor programs must operate within the context of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

For more information, please view: U.S. Department of State.

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