The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program was created in 1961 to promote and “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of the other countries through educational and cultural exchanges.” For more information visit J-1 Visa Government website.
The Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the United States Department of State and has certain requirements that do not apply to other visa types. There are many categories of Exchange Visitors (EVs) and The University of Texas at El Paso has four categories and the student category is one.
College and university students are eligible for the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program only if at any time during their educational program in the United States they meet one of the following four criteria:
22 C.F.R. § 62.23(c)(1)-(5)
- They or their program are financed directly or indirectly by the U.S. Government, the student’s home government, or an international organization of which the United States is a member by treaty or statute; or
- The exchange program is carried out pursuant to an agreement between the U.S. Government and a foreign government; or
- The exchange program is carried out pursuant to a written agreement between:
- An American and foreign educational institution
- An American educational institution and a foreign government
- A U.S. state or local government and a foreign government; or
- The exchange visitor student is supported substantially by funding from any source other than personal or family funds.
An F1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for those wishing to study in the U.S. You must file an F1 visa application if you plan on entering the US to attend a university or college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, language training program, or other academic institution.
An F1 visa is issued to international students who are attending an academic program or English Language Program at a US college or university. F-1 students must maintain the minimum course load for full-time student status.
Difference between F-1 and J-1 Student Status
Source of Funding – J-1 Exchange Visitor status is available to those students who are supported substantially by funding other than personal or family funds. Such funding may include that which comes from the U.S. government or the student’s home government, international organizations, or universities. Students who are supported by personal or family funds are ineligible for J-1 immigration status, and must come to the U.S. to study on an F-1 visa.
Foreign Residence Requirement – Students in J-1 immigration status and their J-2 dependents may be subject to a “foreign residence requirement”. This applies to those who have received U.S. or home country government funding or those who are on the “Country Skills List”. The foreign residence requirement means that upon completion of the J-1 program they must reside in their countries of last legal permanent residence for two years before they are eligible to apply for entry into the U.S. on a specialized work visas (H or L) or an immigrant visa. There is no foreign residence requirement for F-1 student status.
Health Insurance – Students in J-1 status and their J-2 dependents are required to have comprehensive health coverage in order to fulfill U.S. government regulations governing the J Exchange Visitor Program. Please refer to our Health Insurance section for more information regarding the federal requirements.
Work Permission (on-campus) – Students in either F-1 or J-1 immigration status may work on campus with permission from OIP.
Work Permission (off-campus) – Students in F-1 status have the opportunity to take advantage of Circular Practical Training (CPT) during their studies and Optional Practical Training (OPT) after they have completed their program. Please refer to the F-1 section of our website for additional information regarding F-1 employment. J-1 students have the opportunity to engage in Academic Training during their studies and/or at the completion of their academic programs. Academic training is a privilege of J-1 immigration status and the employment needs to be integral/related to one’s field of study. The period of time allowed for Academic Training cannot exceed the length of the program of study. In most cases, there is a maximum of 18 months with the exception of some postdoctoral research and teaching positions that may qualify for up to 36 months.
Dependent Employment – Immigration regulations allow no circumstances under which the spouse (F-2) of an F-1 student can apply for work permission while in the U.S. The spouse (J-2) of a J-1 Exchange Visitor, however, may apply to USCIS for permission to be employed, if he or she can demonstrate a need for supplemental support for self or children. The spouse cannot obtain work permission in order to support the J-1 student. Form I-765, required to apply for J-2 work permission, may be filed electronically.