J-1

Exchange Visitors

342,639 visas issued in 2018
The J-1 nonimmigrant visa is billed as an educational and cultural exchange visitor program, but is routinely used as a temporary work visa.
AT A GLANCE
Year Created
1961
Promote international understanding
Department of State (DOS) 
Stated Purpose
Managing Agency
The J-1 umbrella includes 14 distinct categories.
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Au Pair
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Camp Counselor
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College & University Students
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Government Visitors
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International Visitors
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Physicians
Professors & Research_noun_presentation_
Professors & Research Scholars
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High School Students
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Short Term Scholars
Specialists
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Summer Work Travel
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Teachers
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Interns
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Trainees
J-1 NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
2019 TOP 10 DESTINATION SITES FOR J-1 VISA HOLDERS
TOP SENDING COUNTRIES: J-1 VISAS ISSUED
J-1 VISAS
ISSUED BY SUBCATEGORY
COMPARISON OF J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM
Type
Program length
Extensions available
Repeat participation
Work hour restrictions
Wage requirement
Mandatory vacation time
U.S. worker protection
Summer Work Travel
4 months
No
No restriction
May not work in positions where work hours fall between 10 PM and 6 AM
The higher of Federal, state or local minimum wage or pay and benefits commensurate with similarly situated U.S. workers
1 month after the three months work
Sponsors must confirm that host employers will not displace domestic U.S. workers at worksites where they will place program participants
Camp Counselors
4 months
No
Yes, but sponsors shall limit the number of repeat participants - not more than 10% of total from immediately preceding year
None
Pay and benefits commensurate with American counterparts
None
None
Au Pairs
12 months
Yes 6, 9 or 12 months but additional educational component requirements
Yes, after 2 year home residency
Maximum 30 or 45 hours per week depending on EduCare or regular au pair; 10 hours per day maximum
Stipend of $197 per week.
1.5 days off per week; 1 complete weekend per month; 2 weeks paid vacation
None
Interns
12 months
No
Yes, after 2 year home residency
Minimum 32 hours per week
None
None
Sponsors must certify that they or anyhost organization does not displace full or part time temporary or permanent American workers
Trainees
18 months; 12 months for Hospitality/ Tourism and Agriculture (Ag allowed up to 18 months if original T/IPP includes 6 months of study)
No
Yes, after 2 year home residency
Minimum 32 hours per week
None
None
Sponsors must certify that they or anyhost organization does not displace full or part time temporary or permanent American workers
Teachers
3 years
No
No restriction
Must be full-time
None, but must be in compliance with collective bargaining agreement; compensation, if any, must be outlined in writing beforehand
None
None
LABOR ABUSE
Despite being used as a work visa, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) plays no role in regulating the J-1 program other than to enforce the standard federal wage and hour laws that apply to the general workforce. 
 
At least six of the 14 J-1 categories present situations where J-1 workers are vulnerable: summer work travel, camp counselors, trainees, and interns, au pairs, and teachers
DOS data shows that these six categories make up just over half of all total J-1 visas issued.
Geographic isolation, employment in private homes or in low-wage, unskilled industries, and lax worker protections and oversight all contribute to J-1 worker vulnerability to exploitation.
DOCUMENTED CASES OF ABUSE

1/3
[STILL MISSING: Reasons why an employer may choose to hire J-1 workers]
RECOMMENDATIONS
The J-1 exchange visitor program was not designed to import foreign labor and should be redesigned to accommodate this reality. 
Open jobs to U.S. workers:
The J-1 exchange visitor program regulations do not have a system in place to test the labor market for jobs where J-1 workers are employed. Currently, there is no requirement to advertise open jobs or recruit U.S. workers.
End employer-based visas:
As with most other nonimmigrant visas that authorize work in the U.S., J-1 exchange visitors are vulnerable to the extent that their lawful immigration status is tied to a job placement. An individual who has paid money to come to the United States to work has a strong incentive to stick with an exploitative situation. 
[STILL MISSING: Additional Resources]
Other Visa Programs:

H-2A    |    H-2B    |    H-1B    |    J-1    |    L-1    |    A-3/G-5    |    F-1    |    B-1