J-1 Visa for Exchange Visitor

The Exchange Visitor Program promotes mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries through exchanges in education and culture, under the provisions of U.S. law. Exchange visitors are foreign nationals who come to the U.S. through the Exchange Visitor Program to take part in Department of State-designated programs. Examples of exchange visitors are:

  • Trainees
  • Professors or scholars
  • Students
  • Specialists
  • International visitors
  • Teachers
  • Research assistants
  • Physicians
  • Individuals in summer work travel programs
  • Individuals in au pair programs
  • Camp counselors


Form I-9 for Exchange Visitors

  • Exchange visitors may work legally in the U.S. if the work is part of the participants’ approved program (for example, J-1 teachers, professors, summer camp counselors, summer work travel, au pairs) or when the official program sponsor approves their employment (for example, J-1 students). Employers may not employ a J-1 participant knowing that the exchange visitor is unauthorized to perform this type of work in the U.S.


USCIS does not issue an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766) to J-1 exchange visitors to prove employment authorization. However, DHS issues Form I-94 or Form I-94A Arrival-Departure Record indicating J-1 nonimmigrant status. Program sponsors designated by the Department of State issue and endorse Form DS-2019, which indicates the type of work an exchange visitor is authorized to perform. For J-1 students, the program sponsor prepares additional and informal documentation (a letter) to prove employment authorization.

The following combination of documents is considered a List A document:

  • The exchange visitor’s unexpired foreign passport
  • Form DS-2019; exchange visitors cannot work after the program end date on this form
  • A valid Form I-94 or Form I-94A indicating J-1 nonimmigrant status
  • A letter or other documentation from the responsible officer in the case of a J-1 nonimmigrant student


Summer work travel programs

Post-secondary students may enter the U.S. to work and travel during their summer vacation as participants in the summer work travel program. Participants can be admitted to the program more than once, but cannot work for more than 4 months for each admittance. Examples of possible summer work travel jobs include positions at:

  • Resorts
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Amusement parks
  • Architectural firms
  • Scientific research organizations
  • Graphic art/publishing and other media communication businesses
  • Advertising agencies
  • Computer software businesses
  • Electronics firms
  • Legal offices
  • Au Pairs
  • Only exchange visitors placed through a Department of State-designated au pair sponsor are authorized to work as an au pair. Au pairs provide child care to a host family’s children for a year in return for room and board, a weekly stipend and up to $500 in education costs.
  • Because the host family provides remuneration in exchange for regular child care services, the host family is the au pair’s employer and must complete Form I-9 for the Au pair.
  • Foreign academic students (F-1 nonimmigrants) cannot work as au pairs or nannies unless USCIS issues them an Employment Authorization Document based on severe economic hardship.


Camp Counselors

  • Each summer, camp counselors interact with groups of American youth by overseeing camp activities in the U.S. Participants must be at least 18 years old and may work only as counselors for up to 4 months.


Once in a while, participants may have to do non-counseling duties as a part of camp life, but they do not serve as staff. They may not act as:

  • Office workers
  • Cooks
  • Laborers, such as dishwashers or janitors


Camp counselor positions must be at camps that are either:

  • Accredited members in good standing of the American Camp Association;
  • Affiliated with a nationally recognized nonprofit organization; or
  • Inspected, evaluated and approved by the sponsor


Some jobs are not permitted, such as:

  • Domestic help (for example, housekeepers)
  • Positions that require participants to invest their own money
  • Positions that require participants to provide patient care
  • Positions that might lower the Department of State’s reputation


If you have any question regarding this visa petition, please call the office to set up a valuable consultation with our Immigration Lawyer.