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J1 Visa For Nigerians

Nigerian students looking to travel and gain experience in the US can obtain a J1 Visa. With this visa, you can work, study, conduct research, teach, receive on-the-job training for periods, or demonstrate special skills while in the US.

Contact IAS for more information about visa requirements and application procedures. We can provide support and assist you with your J1 Visa application. Call us at +23413438882 (Nigerian office), at +44 (0) 3316300929, or chat with us online.

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    Want to Participate in an Exchange Programme in the US?

    We are a licenced immigration law firm providing visa services and professional advice to help people understand immigration law. We have helped many Nigerian students and exchange visitors gain entry into the US to study and/or work. Contact us today and let us handle all aspects of your application.

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    What is a J1 Visa?

    The J-1 visa, also known as the “Exchange Visitor Visa,” is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign nationals, including Nigerians, to enter the U.S. to participate in exchange programmes to promote knowledge sharing and skills.

    This visa is for those who need practical training not available in their home country, wih the  training directly related to their academic programme. Various categories of the J1 visa are available, each with its own eligibility requirements.

    A US sponsor is required before the visa can be issued, and each sponsor has a unique screening method. It is important to note that some J1 Visa categories require holders to return to their home country after graduation and live there for at least two years.

    Re-entry into the US would only be allowed after fulfilling the requirement. However, the requirement may be waived in cases of an emergency or special circumstances.

    Benefits of a J1 Visa

    There are several benefits to getting a J1 Visa, including:

    • Enter the U.S. and participate in an exchange visitor programme approved by the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
    • Travel in and out of the U.S. or remain in the U.S. continuously until the completion of your exchange visitor programme.
    • Work legally in the U.S. if the work is part of your approved programme or if you receive permission to work from the official programme sponsor.
    • Exempt from Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax withholdings.
    • Apply for a dependent visa for your spouse and unmarried dependent children under 21. Your dependents can stay with you as long as you maintain your J1 status. In addition, they can attend school while on a dependent visa.
    • Apply for and receive work permits for accompanying relatives.

    Who Can Apply for a J1 Visa?

    Nigerians from diverse fields of study, such as education, the arts, and the sciences, can apply for a J1 Visa. The list includes:

    • Students at all academic levels
    • Research Scholars
    • Trainees obtaining on-the-job training with agencies, firms, and institutions
    • Professional trainees in the medical and allied fields
    • Professors coming to do research or teach at institutions of higher learning
    • International visitors coming to the US to observe, consult, tour, participate in an organised people-to-people programme, receive training, demonstrate specialised knowledge or skills, or conduct research
    • Teachers of primary, secondary, and specialised schools

    How Long Can You Stay in the US on a J1 Visa?

    The J1 visa duration depends on the type of programme you choose. The validity periods of the J1 Visa categories are:

    • Au pair, interns, international visitors, secondary school students, and specialist programmes are valid for 12 months. However, the Au Pair programme may be extended for an additional 6, 9, or 12 months.
    • Trainee programmes are usually valid for 18 months, with the exception of 12 months for Agriculture and Hospitality.
    • College and university student programmes are valid for 24 months for non-degree programmes, 18 months for bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and 36 months for post-doctoral degrees.
    • Physician programmes are valid for the residency programme period, usually 7 years.
    • Camp counselor and summer work travel programmes are valid for 4 months.
    • Government visitor programmes are valid for 18 months.
    • Professor and research scholar programmes are valid for 3 weeks to 5 years.
    • Teacher programmes are valid for 3 years, while short-term scholar programmes are valid for 6 months.

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      Eligibility Requirements for the J1 Visa

      The eligibility requirements for a J1 Visa vary depending on the exchange visitor programme. However, there are general requirements you must meet, including:

      • Maintain funding source: You should ensure that your sponsor must provide at least 50% of your programme funding.
      • Proficiency in the English language: The college or university where you wish to enrol will require an English language proficiency score. Some of the required documents or certificates to show your English proficiency include the TOEFL, IELTS, IBT, PTE, TOEIC, CAE, or CPE.
      • Medical insurance: You (and your dependents) must have medical insurance that meets your host university’s minimum standards.
      • Home residency requirements: When your programme is over, you are required to go back to your home country and live there for a minimum of two years.
      • Pass the medical examination: As an exchange visitor coming for graduate medical education or training, you must pass the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in Medical Sciences.
      • Pre-arrival information and attending orientation: It is expected that your sponsor gives you (and any dependents) any information about the selected programme. Also, they are expected to give an orientation with any information about the US region where you will study.
      • Valid passport: You (and your dependents) must have a valid passport for US travel at least 6 months before your programme completion date.

      Sponsorship Requirements for the J1 Visa

      One of the mandatory requirements of a J-1 Visa is to get a sponsor from a non-personal source for your programme. The US governement maintains a list of exchange visitor sponsors to ensure accreditation.

      For an organisation to become a sponsor, it must demonstrate its ability to maintain successful sponsorship of the exchange visitor programme. Below are some sponsorship requirements:

      • Pre-arrival information: Sponsors should provide details about the programme to their participants before departure from their home country.
      • Monitoring: A sponsor must keep track of participants’ welfare and progress, ensuring they have 24-hour emergency support.
      • Orientation: Sponsors are required to provide information to help participants get acclimated to the United States.

      You should note that your programme sponsor determines your eligibility. Many organisations screen their participants and consider those with proficient English language skills. If you have been approved by a sponsor, you must submit a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J1) Status (Form DS-2019). Your sponsor will then prepare for your visit after obtaining your visa.

      Home Residency Requirement (HRR)


      The J1 Visa programme has a lot of categories, and some of the programmes are subject to a home residency requirement. Participants in such programmes are expected to return to their home country for two years after completing their programme.

      It is important to note that you can file for an HRR waiver by filing Form DS-3035 with a $120 filing fee. You will be required to demonstrate a significant negative impact or show that you would face persecution as a result of this requirement.

      Grounds for HRR Waiver

      The home residency requirement may be waived based on:

      • Exception: Programmes that don’t require HRR are usually waived. For instance, a waiver is not available for medical residents/interns who received medical training in the US.
      • No Objection Letter: The home residency requirement may be waived if your home country’s government issues a “no objection” letter to the US State Department indicating that it does not object to the waiver grant.
      • The threat of persecution: If you can demonstrate that you will suffer persecution upon return to your home country, the HRR will be waived. The threat of persecution must be based on the following:
        • Race
        • Religion
        • Political opinion
      • Interested Government Agency Request (IGA): An IGA may request that the US State Department waive the home residency requirement. Both the US State Department and the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) must agree to grant the waiver.
      • Designated State Health Agency Request: Designated State Health Agencies or their equivalent can request a waiver on behalf of medical doctors who have been offered full-time positions in medical facilities serving areas with shortages of medical professionals. To qualify for the waiver, you must agree in writing to work at the facility for 40 hours per week for a minimum of 3 years. Also, you must have started working at the healthcare facility within 90 days of the waiver’s approval.
      • Hardship: In situations where complying with the home residency requirements imposes exceptional hardship on your dependents, such as your spouse or child, and they are US citizens or permanent US residents, you may be granted a waiver.

      An immigration lawyer can help you determine whether you qualify for a waiver and/or are subject to the two-year home residence requirement.

      IAS can provide information about the programmes that require the two-year home residence requirement and determine if you qualify for an HRR waiver. We can also help you with your waiver application form. You should schedule a consultation with one of our immigration experts by calling us at +23413438882 (the Nigerian office) or +44 (0) 3316300929.

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        Categories of the J1 Visa


        There are 14 individual programmes within the J1 Visa category concerning various occupations and functions. The programmes include:

        • Au Pair
        • Camp Counselor
        • College and University Students
        • Government Visitor
        • Intern
        • International Visitor
        • Physician
        • Professor and Research Scholar
        • Secondary School Student
        • Short-Term Scholar
        • Specialist
        • Summer Work Travel
        • Teacher
        • Trainee

        Au Pair

        The Au Pair programme allows participants and their families to participate in a mutually rewarding, intercultural opportunity. You would be able to continue your education while experiencing everyday life with an American family. You can also host reliable and responsible childcare from individuals who become part of the family. Below are some requirements:

        • You must be between 18-26 years old
        • Proficiency in spoken English
        • Be a secondary school graduate

        There are several benefits to this type of J1 Visa, including:

        • Being placed with a host family for 12 months with the option of extending your visa for 6, 9, or 12 months and more
        • Receive up to $500 towards the cost of required academic coursework. Room and board plus childcare compensation

        It is important to note that before you start your work with the host family, you will undergo a training programme on working with children so you can be better prepared.

        Camp Counselor

        This J1 Visa category allows youth workers, teachers, and post-secondary students to share their culture and ideas with the people of the United States in camp settings throughout the country. Participants will receive the same pay and benefits as their American counterparts. The Camp Counselor Programme requirements are:

        • Must be at least 18 years old
        • Proficiency in the English language to supervise and interact with American youth

        College and University Student

        As a foreign student, you have the opportunity to study at American degree-granting post-secondary accredited academic institutions. You can also participate in a student internship programme that will fulfil the educational objectives of the student’s degree programme in your home country. Some of the requirements for a J1 Visa under this category are:

        • Be pursuing a non-degree programme and be enrolled in a full-time course of study. The maximum duration of a non-degree programme is 24 months, in addition to academic training.
        • Be financed directly or indirectly by an international organisation of which the US is a member by treaty or statute, the US government, or the government of your home country. You can also be substantially supported by funding from sources other than personal or family funds.

        The college and university student category under the J1 Visa option also comes with its own benefits. You can engage in degree-granting programmes until completion or non-degree-granting programmes for no more than 24 months.

        You can also engage in part-time employment under certain conditions, including good academic standing at your host institution.

        Government Visitor

        You can apply for this category if you are selected by a US federal agency, state, or local government to visit and engage in various activities. This is to develop and strengthen professional and personal relationships with your American counterparts.

        When you are on this programme, you can consult, observe, train, and demonstrate special skills on matters of shared interest. You can also take part in workshops, observation tours, discussions, consultations, professional meetings, and so on.

        For more information about the requirements of other J1 Visa categories, reach out to one of our team members at +23413438882 (Nigerian office) or on +44 (0) 3316300929. We would be happy to provide full details of the various J1 Visa types and assist you with your application.

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          How Can You Apply for a J1 Visa?


          Some steps must be taken when applying for a J1 visa. The first thing to do is get a US sponsor. Here are the application steps:

          Step 1: Submit the DS-2019 form

          After a US sponsor approves you in their organisation, you will need to submit the DS-2019 form. This is your Certificate of Eligibility, which shows your eligibility to apply for J1 status. If you are travelling with your dependents, the DS-2019 can also be issued to them, but they will receive another version of it.

          Step 2: Pay the mandatory fees

          Multiple fees are involved in the visa application process. There is a visa issuance fee of $185, which can be paid to the US Embassy in your country. If your program is sponsored by USAID, a US government-funded educational and cultural exchange program, or the Department of State, you may be exempt from paying the fee.

          Others are the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) I-901 fee of $220 and the nonimmigrant visa application processing fee of $185. The former is paid to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), while the latter can be paid to the US Embassy in your home country.

          However, depending on your sponsor or the programme, the SEVIS fee may not be part of your programme fee. Therefore, it is advisable to check with your Responsibility Officer.  Also, the nonimmigrant visa application processing fee can be waived as that of the visa issuance fee if your programme is sponsored.

          Step 3: Schedule a Visa Interview

          For your submitted application to be accepted, you need to be interviewed by a consular officer in your home country. You should schedule an appointment as early as you can, as waiting periods can vary greatly, especially in Nigeria. The advisable thing to do when travelling with your dependents is to also schedule an appointment for them alongside yours.

          Step 4: Attend Your Visa Interview

          The consular officer will interview you to understand your intentions behind your travel to the US. It is important to note that before your interview with the consular officer, you need to be prepared to show your binding ties to your home country and bring any documentation to that effect. This will further strengthen your ties back home. The following documents are required when applying for a J1 Visa:

          • DS-2019 Form, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status
          • Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application
          • One 2×2 photograph
          • A passport valid for travel to the U.S. with validity six months after the in the US
          • An application for an internship or trainee visa must be submitted on Form DS-7002 Internship/Training Placement Plan (for exchange visitors or trainees)

          You should note that how you can apply for a J-1 visa is determined based on your local Embassy or Consulate as well as your situation. It is therefore important to make sure you’ve read and understood what you need to do before and during your interview.

          An immigration lawyer can help you confirm the necessary documents when applying for a J1 visa and prepare you for the visa interview. Call IAS at +23413438882 (Nigerian office) or on +44 (0) 3316300929 and we will provide you with the latest information you need to apply for your J1 Visa.

          How Can IAS Help?

          Travelling to the US on a J1 Visa to carry out exchange programmes needs to be done professionally. Each visa application is different, and immigration law changes periodically. You need to know the latest requirements before applying for any visa type to reduce your chances of visa denial.

          IAS is a licenced immigration firm for processing and issuing the DS-2019 form. We have partners in the US and can work alongside US immigration authorities.

          Our immigration experts can give you all the details you need for your J1 Visa application requirements. They can help you determine the correct categories to apply for based on your circumstances and begin the application process immediately.

          Contact a skilled professional advisor and speak with them about all your immigration matters. Call us at +23413438882 (Nigerian office) or on +44 (0) 3316300929, or chat with us online.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    No, there are no restrictions on travel. However, it is beneficial to plan with your sponsor if you plan to travel outside the US while on a J1 Visa.

                    Yes, they can. They are not required to apply for a different Student Visa.

                    Usually, the J1 Visa is issued within 30 days of submission. However, due to the backlog, processing times can be extended up to 60 days.