The American Immigration Council’s association with the immigration law community means our exchange program and J visa advisors are sensitive to attorney-client relations and uniquely suited to assist them in every step of the J-1 process. We are a third-party sponsor designated by the Department of State to issue certificates of eligibility for J-1 and J-2 visa applications, supporting your private-sector clients’ participation in international exchange as a temporary host site. Our Cultural Exchange Program J-1 visa advisors provide immigration attorneys with training and technical assistance on the sponsorship process which allows them to provide clients with sound legal advice and the opportunity to take full advantage of the Exchange Visitor Program.
Varied levels of involvement from immigration attorneys are valuable for host sites and sponsoring organizations. The level of your participation in the J1 application is determined by you and your client.
Our collective experience indicates there are three typical levels of involvement:
- The Starter: This is the least involved level. The Starter helps the host company assemble the application materials, supporting documents and program fees and check that required members of the applicant's case file (applicant, lawyer, supervisor and host organization representative) are listed as Member Owners. After the completed application is submitted to the sponsor, the attorney is only marginally involved.
- The Supporter: In addition to the Starter's role, the Supporter assists the J-1 applicant prepare for the visa application process. The Supporter may help the J-1 applicant complete the DS-160 form.
- The Finisher: The Finisher is directly involved in every step of the J-1 process, from the start of the J-1 application to the time the J-1 returns home. In addition to the above, the Finisher will help the host company and J-1 holder remain in compliance by making sure that all requisite tasks are completed. This includes submission of the Post Arrival Follow-Up Information form, the 30-day Evaluation, the Mid-point and Final Evaluations and any Travel Validations. The attorney, however, is acting on behalf of the host company and or the exchange visitor, not the American Immigration Council in providing this assistance.
Note, at no level may the attorney answer evaluation or essay questions on behalf of the exchange visitor or the host supervisor nor sign on behalf of the J-1 applicant or host company the Declarations and Agreements that are part of the application documentation. Our team makes every effort to keep the attorney informed throughout the process while maintaining our own legal responsibility for having direct contact with the host organization and the exchange visitor as a regulatory requirement.
Guidance for Attorneys
The Host Organization and Exchange Visitor information provide additional resources for you to prepare sponsorship applications on behalf of your client(s). Additionally, we offer periodic training opportunities for attorneys via webinar and onsite training at the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association Annual Conference. Details on current training opportunities are listed on the Events page.
The Training/Internship Placement Plan plays a central role in approving a proposed internship or training program. Programs are approved based on the relationship between the exchange visitor’s academic and/or employment background and the proposed program content based on descriptions found in the U.S. Department of EducationCode of Instructional Programs. J-1 sponsors must match the training or internship described in section 1 of the form DS-7002 to one of the subject codes. The code is used in SEVIS to identify the field of training and appears on form DS-2019.
Subject codes are important for two reasons:
First, J-1 sponsors are designated by the US Department of State to offer programs in specific occupational areas; most sponsors are not designated to sponsor all types of trainings/internships. Subject codes organize and describe occupations, indicating to sponsors what types of trainings or internships they are able to sponsor. The descriptions included with each subject code also offer excellent guidance to those creating a training plan for new programs.
Second, some J-1 participants will be subject to the two-year home residency requirement, 212(e). These include all participants who have received government funds in support of all or part of their J-1 program, and participants who are identified as having skills in demand in the home country. These skills are negotiated by the US Department of State and foreign ministries around the world and are summarized on the Exchange Visitor Skills List, which relate back to the code listed on the DS-2019 and DS-7002.
We encourage participants and their attorneys to examine the DS-2019 closely before the visa appointment at the US Consulate. Understanding the subject code can both improve the chances of being granted the J-1 visa and avoid future misunderstandings on the issue of 212(e).
The Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement, 212(e), requires some J visa holders return to their country of permanent residence for two years at the end of their exchange visitor programs. There are two ways that a J-1 visa holder sponsored by the American Immigration Council could be subject to the 212(e) rule:
- Any amount of government funding (U.S. or the home country)
- Participating in a program that is listed on the Skills List
If the 212(e) rule applies to your client, know this restricts eligibility to apply for an immigrant visa, permanent residence, or nonimmigrant H or L visas. Exchange visitors may be able to return in the B, F, J or M category, although any additional time spent in the US during delays the fulfillment of the two year requirement.
If the person is unable to return to their home country at the end of the J program, there is a waiver process which can take 4 months or longer. More information on the waiver process can be found on the Department of State’s website.
There is no regulatory limit to repeat participation in a J-1 exchange visitor program, but your client should be made aware of a potential 24 month bar between trainings:
- Trainees are subject to a 24 month bar between exchange visitor programs in the Trainee category.
- Interns are not subject to the bar if they are returning as eligible interns.
- A former Intern returning to the U.S. as a Trainee would be subject to the 24 month bar.
The American Immigration Council does not provide sponsorship to transfer or change of status applicants. All potential Exchange Visitors are expected to complete consular processing in their country of citizenship or permanent residency to secure a visa for entry into the United States.