J-1

Exchange Visitors

108,510 visas issued in 2020*
353,279 visas issued in 2019
Source: U.S. Department of State

*2020 visa numbers reflect lower overall visa numbers because of Executive Action restricting certain visas specifically and reduced participation generally due to the coronavirus pandemic
The J-1 nonimmigrant visa is billed as an educational and cultural exchange visitor program, but is routinely used as a temporary work visa.
J-1 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.
Au Pair_noun_child care_1426743.png
Au Pairs
21,551*
Camp Counselor_noun_Tent_752076.png
Camp
Counselors
25,681
College&Uni_noun_Diploma_420339.png
College & University Students
42,098
Govt Visitor_noun_government building_11
Government Visitors
3,501
High School_noun_books_3322769.png
High School Students
23,550
IntlVisitors_noun_Globe_2325690.png
Interns_noun_pupils_582684.png
International Visitors
6,470
Interns
38,639
Physicians_noun_Stethoscope_1382232.png
Physicians
2,912
Professors & Research_noun_presentation_
Professors & Research
Scholars
34,354
Short Term_noun_Calendar_689869.png
Short Term Scholars
19,129
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Specialists
1,458
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Summer
Work Travel
108,301
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Trainees_noun_Gear_3457056.png
Trainees
Teachers
3,454
10,598
*Numbers represent visas issued in 2019 (Source: https://j1visa.state.gov/basics/facts-and-figures/)
J-1 IN CHARTS

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LABOR ABUSE
Despite being used as a work visa, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) 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. 
Geographic isolation, employment in private homes or in low-wage industries, and lax worker protections and oversight all contribute to J-1 worker vulnerability to exploitation. At least six of the 14 J-1 categories present situations that merit close scrutiny: summer work travel, camp counselors, trainees, and interns, au pairs, and teachers. U.S. Department of State (DOS) data shows that these six categories make up just over half of all total J-1 visas issued.
DOCUMENTED CASES OF ABUSE

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Read more case stories in our publication: 
Human Trafficking on Temporary Foreign Work Visas in the U.S.A.
REASONS WHY AN EMPLOYER MAY CHOOSE TO HIRE J-1 EXCHANGE VISITORS
No pre-approval needed from USCIS or USDOL
No labor market certification test required
Flexibility to hire short-term employees
No limit on the number of visas that can be issued
J-1 program regulations do not require payment of recruitment fees
No federal employment taxes
No requirement to provide housing (except au pairs)
History of lax government oversight of employment conditions
J-1 program regulations do not require reimbursement of travel costs
RECOMMENDATIONS
The J-1 exchange visitor program was not designed to import foreign labor and should be redesigned to accommodate this reality. 
Transparency:
Make information about the J-1 program publicly available and easily accessible to stakeholders and the public.
 
Fair Recruitment:
Regulate the recruitment of J-1 workers to protect against fraud, discrimination, and human trafficking and eliminate the practice of charging J-1 participants for placement.
 
Effective Oversight:
Guarantee that J-1 workers have robust labor and employment protections, including access to justice across borders, and that the program does not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers.
Other Visa Programs:

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