6.4.1 Exchange Visitors (J-1)

The Department of State (DOS) administers exchange visitor programs and designates the sponsors. Responsible officers within the program issue Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status. Exchange visitors come to the United States for a specific period of time to participate in a particular program or activity, as described on their Form DS-2019. Only J-1 exchange visitors may use this form when employment is part of their program. Currently, DOS designates public and private entities to act as exchange sponsors for the following programs.

Exchange Visitor Programs

  • Professors and research scholar
  • Short-term scholars
  • Trainees and interns
  • College and university students
  • Teachers
  • Secondary school students
  • Specialists
  • Alien physicians
  • International visitors
  • Government visitors
  • Camp counselors
  • Au pairs
  • Summer work travel

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Programs

  • Summer work/travel: Australia and New Zealand
  • WEST (Work/English Study/Travel): South Korea
  • Intern work/travel: Republic of Ireland
  • Intern/trainee (Innovative Programs): Portugal
  • Intern program (Sciences, engineering, architecture, mathematics, and industrial occupations) Mexico

High school or secondary school students and international visitors are not authorized to work.

Responsible officers may authorize other J-1 students for part-time on-campus employment according to the terms of a scholarship, fellowship, assistantship, or off-campus employment based on serious, urgent, unforeseen economic circumstances. Responsible officers may also authorize J-1 students for a maximum of 18 months (or, for Ph.D. students, a maximum of 36 months) of practical training during or immediately after their studies. J-1 practical training includes paid off-campus employment and/or unpaid internships that are part of the student’s program of study. Their responsible officer must authorize employment in writing for practical training. Special rules apply to student interns.

Employment for other J-1 exchange visitors is sometimes job- and site-specific or limited to a few months.

For more information about these categories and their employment authorization, contact the responsible officer whose name and telephone number are on the employee’s Form DS-2019 or go to the DOS website at exchanges.state.gov.

USCIS does not issue EADs to J-1 exchange visitors.

However, DHS issues a Form I-94 indicating J-1 nonimmigrant status. DOS-designated program sponsors 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 informal documentation (a letter) that verifies employment authorization.

We consider the following to be a List A document:

  • An unexpired foreign passport; and
  • Form I-94 indicating J-1 nonimmigrant status and Form DS-2019 with the responsible officer’s endorsement.

J-1 students may present the documents above if they also have a letter from the responsible officer authorizing employment.

To satisfy List B and C documents requirements, the J-1 student could present a state driver’s license (List B) and a Form I-94 in combination with Form DS-2019 and a letter from a responsible officer (List C #7).

If the J-1 exchange visitor transfers to a different program or changes their sponsor, their Form DS-2019 must indicate the new program or sponsor.

Some exchange visitors may extend their status. If you have questions about any exchange visitor’s continued employment authorization, contact the responsible officer whose name and telephone number are on the employee’s Form DS-2019.

Dependents of a J-1 exchange visitor are classified as J-2 nonimmigrants and are only authorized to work if we have issued an EAD to them. A J-2 nonimmigrant’s foreign passport and Form I-94 are not evidence of identity and employment authorization for Form I-9 purposes.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/27/2020