J-1 Visa Extension
For those that are working or studying in the U.S. under a J-1 visa, the time allotted by your visa may not be enough to get everything done before leaving the country. Because of this, the USCIS allows you to get a J-1 visa extension, but only under certain conditions. Keep reading to learn how you can extend your J-1 visa and how we can help you.
J-1 Visa Overview
Let’s start with an brief rundown of the J-1 visa. This nonimmigrant category is for program-based immigration rather than employer based. A government-approved sponsorship program will provide you with a completed DS-2019 form to be filed with the USCIS.
Overall, the requirements for a J-1 visa are relatively simple. All you need to do is:
- Qualify for your program according to it’s specific criteria
- Maintain a foreign residence that you have no intention of abandoning.
- Be able to finance your entire trip and you must also have sufficient medical insurance for you and all family members that are coming with you under J-2 status.
- Have a strong understanding of the English language
Here is a quick list of some of the more popular occupational categories for these J-1 programs:
- Camp Counselor
- Au Pair/Nanny
- Government Visitor
- Professional International Visitor
- Professor or Researcher
- Summer worker
- College Student
- Secondary School Student
You will need to contact the program directly to find out what the requirements for eligibility are and to learn how to get your DS-2019 from them.
The amount of time that you can stay in the U.S. under your J-1 visa is dependent on your specific program, though the maximum is usually seven years except under certain circumstances. Here are the validity periods for some of the programs listed above:
- Teachers, scholars, researchers, and professors – five years.
- Medical grad students – seven years.
- Professional trainees and government visitors – 18 months. Some instances allow you to stay for up to two years.
- Camp counselors and summer workers – four months.
- Nannies and au pairs – one year.
- Employees of the International Communications Agency are an exception, as they are sometimes able to remain in the U.S. under J-1 status for ten years or more.
J-1 Visa Extension
Extension of the J-1 Visa will vary depending on the standards and conditions of the applicant’s specific Visitor Exchange Program. The applicant’s length of stay for the program can be determined by the IAP-66 or Certificate of Eligibility. The maximum time of stay cannot go beyond the total amount indicated by the program. The program and program sponsor must consent to the J1 visa extension.
Frequent J-1 Visa Extensions:
- Au Pair: 12 months. The Au Pair category has the option for an additional extension of 6, 9, or 12 months.
- Business Trainees: 18 months
- College and University Students: Depends on the education level of the student. (Bachelor’s/Master’s degree: 18 months & Post-Doctoral degree: 36 months).
- College Professors: 36 months
- Flight Aviation Trainees: 24 months
- Government Visitors: 12 months
- International Visitors: 12 months
- Medical Residents/Interns: Maximum of 7 years
- Primary and Secondary School Teachers: 36 months
- Research Scholars: 36 months
- Specialists: 12 months
- Summer Work/Travel: 4 months
To request for the J1 Visa Extension, it is important for the applicant to review the mandated requirements and documentation lists to avoid potential delays.
J-1 Visa Extension Requirements
Like the initial requirements for the J-1 visa, these criteria are relatively simple:
- Currently on J-1 status
- Program sponsor must have filed form DS-2019
J-1 Visa Extension Documentation
In order to apply for your J-1 extension, you will need to submit the following documents:
- If the sponsoring program is unable to fund the applicant, the applicant must be able to provide evidence of financial capability to pay for fees such as tuition and living expenses for one year.
- Form DS-2019 and IAP-66
- Form I-94
- Evidence of J-1 Visa Health Insurance. The insurance must be able to cover the length of extension and dependents on J-2 visa status.
- Supplementary documentation with valid explanations for extension.
- A SEVIS fee is not required to be paid again.
J1 Visa Extension Process
The program sponsor has a specific officer who is able to determine the applicant’s eligibility through documentation. If the J1 visa extension has been accepted, the applicant must obtain a new DS-2019 form with a new expiration date. This date will be recorded with SEVIS. If the J-1 Visa holder has children or a spouse on J-2 status, the extension will cover them as well.
J1 Visa Extension Change of Category
If you are seeking a change of category related to your J1 Visa extension then your must clearly demonstrate that it is closely related to your original exchange objectives and necessary as the result of extraordinary circumstances.
You should consult the officer of your program. They’ll then need to submit a request in writing to the DOS on you behalf and corresponding payment (fee) will need to be submitted. Should your request be accepted, the officer will will issue an updated DS-2019.
What if it is Denied?
Should your request be denied, then you’ll need to return to your home country in the 30 day grace period from the date of completion indicated on your original DS-2019. Remaining in the U.S. after your J-1 visa extension has been denied can result in you being considered “out of status”, which can have serious consequences in the future if you attempt to apply for another visa or green card.
The J1 Visa extension applicant is able to travel outside the United States, however, it is essential for the applicant to have a valid J1 visa stamp in his/her passport. If the visa stamp has expired, it is critical to get a new visa before traveling. Applicants traveling with an expired stamp will not be allowed to re-enter the United States.
J1 Traveling Grace Period
There is a travel grace period which may be important for you to understand. As indicated on DS-2019, there is a grace period that USCIS allows for individuals completing the United States to depart the country. The 30-days following the completion of your J1 program is considered the grace period and you’ll no longer be under J1 status but now under the overall jurisdiction of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Be aware that you may not continue to work on any exchange activities during you grace period. Also take note that you can travel in the U.S. however if you travel beyond the borders you will most likely not be permitted reentry.
It is very difficult for an applicant who has already received extension and to request for additional time. This is only allowed under remarkable and exceptional situations. To authorize a further extension, the program sponsor officer is obligated to send a request to the Department of State.
The request would involve an in depth explanation of the petition and supplementary documentation. The Department of State also demands a nonrefundable fee of $246. In order to receive an extension for the 30-day voluntary departure status period, it’s advised to contact the USCIS.
Summary of J1 Visa Extensions
There are special extensions available for professors and research scholars who are on the J1 Visa program. After the initial 3 month maximum duration period, eligible individuals can extend their stay for an added six months to complete their designated research or program. Remember the granting of this extension is completely under the discretion of the State Department.
J-1 Visa Waiver
Once your J-1 extension has ended, you will need to return to your home country under the home residency requirement, which mandates that all J-1 holders must go back to their home countries for a total of two years before returning to the U.S. under a different visa.
The only way to get around the home residency requirement is to get a J-1 visa waiver based on your circumstances. The waiver can be granted based on:
- A No Objection Statement from the government of your home country
- A statement showing that you would experience exceptional hardship if you were forced to leave the U.S.
- A statement showing that you would experience persecution by returning to your home country.
- A statement from an Interested Government Agency (IGA) that requests your continued presence in the U.S.
Services that We Provide
Need help with a J1 visa extension, filing a change of category, J1 visa waiver or other related immigration matter? Our Fort Lauderdale immigration attorneys have years of experience handling these types of cases, including those that are more complicated. Give us a call to schedule your free initial consultation.
During this time we’ll briefly explain your options and the fees you’d be responsible for should you choose to retain our services. See below for other related J1 Visa topics which may address your immediate immigration needs. Popular pages include:
- J1 Waiver Timeline in 2015
- J1 Waiver: 50 Frequently Asked Questions
- J1 Visa Waiver Denial: Common Reasons
How Our Immigration Lawyers Can Help:
- Our immigration lawyers are capable of verifying if the applicant is eligible for J1 visa extension.
- Our J-1 visa lawyers understand the extensions designated for each category, we are able to advise the applicant on the additional steps to take in order to further the extension process.
- Our Fort Lauderdale lawyers are able to assist in the proper completion of forms DS-2019, IAP-66, and the I-94.