June 26, 2016

J-1 Visas for Exchange Visitors

J-1 Visas for Exchange Visitors

J-1 EXCHANGE VISA BASICS

The J-1 visa is used for a variety of purposes, ranging from au pairs to exchange students to professors. One J-1 subcategory allows eligible international professionals or interns to receive training at U.S. companies for a select length of time. International trainees and interns have the opportunity to gain valuable career training while at the same time learning about life in the United States.

J-1 Visiting Researcher Designation for International Entrepreneurs

BENEFITS OF A J-1 VISA

  • J-1 trainees and interns return home with new career skills and a greater appreciation for American people and culture.
  • The U.S. employer gains greater knowledge and appreciation for the J-1’s foreign national’s business practices, country and culture.
  • Unlike the H-1B visa, there is no cap on the number of J-1 visas that can be issued each year.
  • The J-1’s validity is typically a maximum of two years, with renewals possible.
  • Spouses of J-1s can obtain independent work authorization. That may create opportunities for entrepreneurial endeavors.

DRAWBACKS FOR THE J-1 VISITOR

In addition to the relatively short initial period of stay, a J-1 visa poses several other challenges for an entrepreneur. It is generally for a training position, not to run a company. Also, some J visas require a nonimmigrant to leave the United States for two years before pursuing an H-1B visa or permanent residence. Sometimes a waiver of the two-year rule is possible.

HOW TO MAKE A J-1 WORK FOR AN ENTREPRENEUR

For the enterprising foreign national, a J-1 visa may be useful as a way to gain experience and incubate ideas at an established U.S. company in the entrepreneur’s field of interest as part of a program of practical learning.

The utility of a J-1 visa for an entrepreneur depends heavily on the nature of the sponsoring organization, the host employer, and the programs the employer is authorized to offer.