J-1/J-2 Visa Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the J-1 visa?

The J-1 visa is designed to promote cultural exchange and understanding by allowing foreign nationals to participate in a wide range of educational and cultural exchange programs in the U.S.

What types of programs are eligible for the J-1 visa?

The J-1 visa covers various categories, including, but not limited to, the following:

Au Pair

Camp Counselor



Research Scholar (including post-doctoral programs)


Short-Term Scholar

Secondary School Student

Can my family accompany me on a J-1 visa?

Yes, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 may accompany you on a J-2 visa. They may be eligible for work authorization, but it is subject to certain restrictions and conditions.

How long can I stay in the U.S. on a J-1 visa?

The duration of your stay on a J-1 visa depends on your specific program category. It can range from a few weeks to several years, with the maximum duration varying by program.

Can I work while on a J-1 visa?

Yes, but employment opportunities and restrictions vary depending on the specific J-1 program category. Some categories allow for employment, while others do not.

Can I change my J-1 program once I am in the U.S.?

It’s possible to change your J-1 program under certain circumstances, but you’ll need approval from your program sponsor and may need to apply for a new J-1 visa.

Can I apply for a green card (permanent residency) while on a J-1 visa?

Yes, it’s possible to apply for a green card while on a J-1 visa, but the process can be complex and may require adherence to specific rules and regulations.

Can I travel outside the U.S. while on a J-1 visa?

Yes, you can travel outside the U.S. while on a J-1 visa, but you’ll need to obtain proper documentation and approvals. Additionally, you’ll need to ensure that your travel plans align with the rules of your J-1 program.

What is the two-year home residency requirement for J-1 visa holders?

Some exchange visitors with J-1 visas are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement. It requires you to return home for at least two years after your exchange visitor program.

Can I apply for a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement?

Yes, you may be eligible to apply for a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement based on various grounds, such as a “no objection” statement from your home country, a request by a U.S. government agency, or a case of exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child.

What is the J-2 visa, and who is eligible for it?

The J-2 visa is designed for the dependents (spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21) of J-1 exchange visitors who are in the United States for cultural exchange programs, educational pursuits, research, or training.

Can J-2 visa holders work in the United States?

J-2 visa holders can apply for work authorization (Employment Authorization Document or EAD) to legally work in the United States. However, they must obtain approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before beginning employment.

How can J-2 visa holders apply for work authorization (EAD)?

To apply for work authorization, J-2 visa holders must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with USCIS. They should include appropriate supporting documentation and the required filing fee.

Can J-2 visa holders study in the United States?

Yes, J-2 visa holders can study in the United States without needing to change their visa status. They can enroll in educational institutions and pursue academic courses.

Is there a time limit on how long J-2 visa holders can stay in the United States?

You may stay in the U.S. as long as the principal J-1 visa holder has valid status. Once the J-1 visa holder loses status, the J-2 visa holder also loses status.

Can J-2 visa holders travel outside the United States?

J-2 visa holders can travel outside the United States and re-enter, provided they have the necessary travel documents, a valid J-2 visa stamp, and an unexpired DS-2019 form.

Can J-2 visa holders apply for U.S. permanent residency (a green card)?

J-2 visa holders can potentially apply for U.S. permanent residency (a green card) if they meet the eligibility criteria and have a sponsoring petitioner. However, the J-2 visa is a temporary visa category, and the process can be complex.

Can J-2 visa holders apply for other non-immigrant visas while in the United States?

J-2 visa holders may be eligible to apply for other non-immigrant visas under specific circumstances, such as changing their immigration status to another visa category that suits their objectives. Consult with your immigration attorney for guidance.
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Dana Davidson - Full Bio

Dana T. Davidson holds degrees from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and State University of New York at Stony Brook and has been practicing immigration law since 2003 in New York and nationwide. She represents corporations, individuals, and families in a broad range of immigration matters. Attorney Davidson has offices in New York City and Glen Cove.


  • Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, New York, New York
  • Juris Doctor – 1988
  • Honors: Moot Court Board, Member, Judge
  • State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York
  • Bachelor of Arts – 1982
  • Major: Political Science
  • Concentration: Business

Pro-Bono Activities

  • Safe Passage Project, Volunteer Attorney, 2013-Present
  • Educating the Educators, Founder, 2012-Present
  • Momentum Project, Board Member, 1991-1994 Bar Admission
  • New York, Eastern District
  • New York, Southern District
  • Washington, D.C.

Speaking Engagements
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2018, Berlin, Germany, Speaker on “Public Charge” panel
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Fall Conference 2018, Johannesburg, South Africa, Speaker: “Practice Management in the New Age” panel
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2018, Madrid, Spain, Speaker: “El Traje de Luces: Self-Sponsored Petitions – EB-1A and NIW”  AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2017, Brussels, Belgium, Speaker: “Continuing Blanket L Challenges”
  • Safe Passage Project, March 2017, Speaker: “Representing Unaccompanied Minors: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and the Effects of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration”
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Fall Conference 2016, Speaker: “It’s Not About Money: I-864”
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2016, Vienna, Austria, Speaker: “K-Visa: Differences Between K-1 and I-130 Processing”
  • New York Institute of Technology’s Center for Entrepreneurship, January 2016, Entrepreneur/Executive-in-Residence
  • AILA Fall Conference 2015, London, UK, Speaker: Impact of joint sponsors on family-based cases
  • Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Small Business Education Program, October 2014, “What is required to grow a business?”
  • Dowling College, May 2013, Keynote Speaker at the first annual Latino Summit at Dowling College
  • International Taxation Conference, 2010