J1 visa: all you need to know

17th Aug 2023

The J-1 visa, also known as the Exchange Visitor Visa or J student visa, is for anyone outside of the US who wishes to take part in study- and work-related exchange programs approved by the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Typically, a J-1 student visa holder is sponsored by an educational or nonprofit institution.

This visa is primarily available to people who have signed up with an approved program that focuses on teaching, receiving training, or conducting research.

The J-1 visa is also used by U.S. employers who want to hire workers for on-the-job training or internships. And what about the college and university students outside the U.S? J-1 summer work/travel programs are widely available, allowing you to spend a summer working in the United States, mostly at low-skill, seasonal jobs. The maximum time in the U.S. will be four months.

J-1 Visa basic requirements

To receive a J-1 visa, applicants must meet the requirements of their program of interest. All J-1 visa holders must generally find a sponsor and secure admission to a program, be proficient in English, demonstrate non-immigrant intent (your intent to return to your home country after your program has finished) and meet insurance requirements. Visa applicants must also be able to cover any associated visa fees unless the government or their specific program will shoulder these costs.

Which documents do I need?

The J-1 application process involves three parties – the applicant, the program sponsor, the United States government. As an applicant, you must file and complete several forms as well as present relevant documents as supporting evidence to each of the claims you make in your application. The following are the required documents for your J-1 visa application process.

  • DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility,
  • DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan,
  • DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application,
  • A Valid Passport,
  • Recently Taken Photograph,
  • Evidence of Ties to Your Home Country,
  • Demonstrate Financial Ability to Pay.

J-1 visa exchange visitor tax requirements

J-1 exchange visitors are subject to U.S. taxes while participating in their programs in the U.S. For tax purposes, J-1 exchange visitors are designated as nonresident aliens who must pay local, state, and federal taxes.

Income taxes for J-1 visa holders depend on the location of your program. In all states, you will be required to file a federal income tax return (either be the 1040NR or the 1040NR-EZ form) if you earn money through your program.

Your sponsor will send you a W-2 form, a tax form that reports the wages or salary that you have earned during the previous year and the taxes withheld. This form should be provided to you by your sponsor no later than January 31 of each year of your program. You need this information to complete your tax return form. The tax return must be filed by April 15.

Still have questions? Ask our tax advisor about the tax system in the USA.

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