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J-1 Categories

Student Intern

An intern (22 CFR 62.22) is a foreign national who either is currently enrolled in and pursuing studies at a degree- or certificate-granting post-secondary academic institution outside the United States or graduated from such an institution no more than 12 months prior to his or her exchange visitor program begin date and who enters the United States to participate in a structured and guided work-based internship program in his or her specific academic field.  The maximum duration of participation for this category shall not exceed 12 months.  The other eligibility requirements of the Student Intern category are as follows:

  • Foreign national must be currently enrolled in and pursuing a degree at a post-secondary academic institution outside the U.S.
  • Must be in good academic standing with home institution.
  • Participating in an internship program in the U.S. that will fulfill an educational objective for their current degree program at their home institution.
  • Must possess sufficient English language skills; see English requirement.
  • Minimum length of visit is 3 weeks; Internship may last no longer than 12 months.
  • Internship must consist of a minimum of 32 hours of work per week.
  • Internship must not consist of more than 20% clerical work.
  • Must have sufficient funding to support entire stay in the U.S.
  • Internship must NOT consist of clinical, medical, or childcare work and may not involve a staffing agency.  Any work that requires the intern to provide therapy, medication, or hands on clinical or medical treatment is absolutely prohibited (this includes human and animal subjects).
  • Internship is not used as a substitute for ordinary employment or work purposes and intern does not displace U.S. workers.
  • Internship exposes participants to American techniques, methodologies, and technology and expands upon the participants' existing knowledge and skills. Programs must not duplicate the participants' prior work experience or training received elsewhere.
  • Interns must be evaluated upon conclusion.  Internships of 6+ months must also have mid-point evaluation.

 

Short-Term Scholar

A short-term scholar (22 CFR 62.21) is a professor, research scholar, or person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the United States on a short-term visit to lecture, observe, consult, train, or demonstrate special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, accredited post-secondary educational institutions, or similar organizations.  The maximum duration of participation for this category shall not exceed 6 months. No extensions will be permitted.  Thus the eligiblity requirements for the STS category are:

  • Primarily conduct research, lecture, consult, or observe.
  • Completed at least a bachelor’s degree
  • Minimum length of visit is 1 day; Visit can be no longer than 6 months (including transfers to/from other institutions.
    • If there is any possibility the department or foreign national will need/want to extend past 6 months, use the Research Scholar category.  If the short-term scholar category is used and the foreign national needs more time to complete his/her work, the only way to obtain more time is through international travel and re-entry with a new visa, new DS-2019 and new J-1 program which is unnecessarily costly, slow, and inconvenient compared to using the Research Scholar category initially which can simply be extended by ISS while the foreign national remains in the U.S. 

 

Research Scholar

Research scholars (22 CFR 62.20) primarily conduct research, observe, or consult in connection with a research project at research institutions, corporate research facilities, museums, libraries, accredited post-secondary educational institutions, or similar types of institutions. The research scholar may also teach and lecture (unless disallowed by the program sponsor) provided that these activities are incidental and do not extend the period of participation beyond the maximum duration. The maximum duration of participation for this category is not to exceed 5 years.  Thus the eligibility requirements for the Research Scholar category are:

  • Primarily conduct research; may also teach.
  • Completed at least a bachelor’s degree (this requirements is based on standard requirements found in the higher education industry; VT policy may require an even higher degree if the individual will occupy a certain position, e.g. postdoc)
  • Minimum length of visit is 3 weeks; Maximum stay no longer than 5 years.
  • 12/24 month bars apply

 

Professor

The Professor category (22 CFR 62.20) is for individuals who are involved primarily in teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting at accredited post-secondary educational institutions, museums, libraries, or similar institutions. A professor may also conduct research, unless disallowed by the program sponsor. The maximum duration of participation for this category is not to exceed 5 years.  Thus the eligibility requirements for the Professor category are:   

  • Primarily teach/lecture; may also conduct research.
  • Completed at least a bachelor’s degree (this requirements is based on standard requirements found in the higher education industry; VT policy may require an even higher degree if the individual will be teaching courses)
  • Minimum length of visit is 3 weeks; Maximum stay no longer than 5 years.
  • 12/24 month bars apply


Specialist

A Specialist is defined as "A foreign national who is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skills who enters the United States for the purpose of observing, consulting, or demonstrating special knowledge or skills."

Purpose. The Exchange Visitor Program promotes the interchange of knowledge and skills among foreign and American specialists, who are defined as experts in a field of specialized knowledge or skills, and who visit the United States for the purpose of observing, consulting, or demonstrating their special skills. It does so by providing foreign specialists the opportunity to observe American institutions and methods of practice in their professional fields, and to share their specialized knowledge with their American colleagues. The exchange of specialists promotes mutual enrichment, and furthers linkages among scientific institutions, government agencies, museums, corporations, libraries, and similar types of institutions. Such exchanges also enable visitors to better understand American culture and society and enhance American knowledge of foreign cultures and skills. This category is intended for exchanges with experts in such areas, for example, as mass media communication, environmental science, youth leadership, international educational exchange, museum exhibitions, labor law, public administration, and library science.

Eligibility requirements for J Specialists:

(1) Is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill;

(2) Seeks to travel to the United States for the purpose of observing, consulting, or demonstrating his or her special knowledge or skills; and

(3) Does not fill a permanent or long-term position of employment while in the United States.

An exchange visitor program with the Specialist designation must utilize a "formal selection process" to "adequately screen and select specialists prior to accepting them for the program."

Sponsors shall adequately screen and select specialists prior to accepting them for the program, providing a formal selection process, including at a minimum:

(1) Evaluation of the qualifications of foreign nationals to determine whether they meet the definition of specialist; and

(2) Screening foreign nationals to ensure that (1) The program is suitable to the exchange visitor's background, needs, and experience; and (2) The exchange visitor possesses sufficient proficiency in the English language, as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency, successfully to participate in his or her program and to function on a day-to-day basis. A sponsor must verify an applicant's English language proficiency through a recognized English language test, by signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school, or through a documented interview conducted by the sponsor either in-person or by videoconferencing, or by telephone if videoconferencing is not a viable option.

Minimum and maximum program duration:

A Specialist can participate in the Exchange Visitor Program from 3 weeks to 1 year.