So you've begun your Exchange Visitor Program and are having a great time. Time passes quickly. How long does a J-1 visa last? Generally speaking, 12-18 months. You realize that’s not long enough; you need more time to complete your program. Now, you are looking to receive a J-1 visa renewal. Perhaps you've changed your program type, transferred to a new company, or were terminated from your position. These are just a few of the reasons that you may be eligible for a J-1 visa extension or adjustment.
Visa paperwork can be a confusing process. We’re here to help. In this article, we will outline how to renew or extend your J-1 visa. We will also discuss the criteria for securing a waiver from the two-year home residency requirement. We’ll even touch on alternative internship options in the case that your extension application is denied.
J-1 Visa Extensions and Renewal
While most internship and training programs allow participants to remain in the US for a maximum of 12 or 18 months, actual program lengths (and thus, J-1 visa lengths) vary. Your program officer can help you extend your J-1 visa in the USA. They may request that your stay be lengthened to the maximum duration possible for that category.
If you are looking to extend your J-1 visa past the program's maximum allowance, your program officer must document why this is necessary. They must create a new DS-2019 to distribute to both the participant and the Department of State. Filing an application to extend or adjust your J-1 visa status will cost you USD $367.
How to Extend My J-1 Visa: The Process
Let’s talk about the J-1 visa extension process. At Global Internships, we won’t approve a J-1 visa extension request resulting from a lack of planning. However, we will support revised training or internship placement plans. To prove this, Exchange Visitor Program participants must update their DS-7002 to demonstrate that they will be taking on more responsibilities in their program. It is not enough to extend the participant’s current responsibilities.
What is the DS-7002?
The DS-7002 is the Training/Internship Placement Plan document, a necessary component of the J-1 visa application process. This document has four sections which we will outline below. Please note that you will likely not need to alter DS-7002 sections 1, 2, or 3 unless you are attempting to change host companies. The focus will be on updating the Training Plan phase you mean to extend, as it is not possible to edit pre-existing phases.
The first section of the DS-7002 is designated for participant information. You will need to enter your full name as it exists on your passport. Next, you must select whether you are an intern or trainee. Interns are current students or individuals who graduated less than 12 months ago. Trainees have graduated and have at least one year of applicable work experience.
You will also need to enter education or experience you have that is relevant to your placement. If applicable, you will also enter the amount of years of professional work experience you have. Generally, interns simply enter “N/A” (not applicable) into this field. Make sure you also include the date you received–or expect to receive–your degree.
DS-7002 Section 2 deals with information about your host company. It requires information including:
- Host company’s Employer ID Number
- Hours intern/trainee will work per week (must be at least 32)
- Possession of Worker’s Compensation Policy (gov. and public institutions are exempt)
- Number of full-time employees at company
- Yearly revenue
This section of the DS-7002 calls for a contract agreement between all parties involved in securing an individual’s J-1 visa for an EVP. These parties include:
- The trainee/intern
- The Host Company
- The Visa Sponsor (that’s us!)
The final section of this document is where the EVP Placement Plan is outlined. Specific subheadings follow the general information portion of this section. Refer to the table below for a look into what information these specific sections require.
What will the intern be doing at the host company? What will their role be within the organization? With which departments will the intern work? What specific tasks will the intern complete?
How many phases will the trainee’s program have? Training programs must have at least two phases/rotations, each lasting no more than four months each. If you’re a trainee, you will not be doing the exact same thing for your entire stay in the US.
What cultural activities will the intern/trainee be invited to? What cultural activities will the host company inform the intern/trainee of? Of course, these activities will vary depending on your location in the US and the time of year. However, examples of cultural activities include:
- Conferences or networking events
- Celebration of US holidays
- Local sporting events
- Trips to US landmarks
- Volunteer opportunities with local organizations
Extending your J-1 visa is not the only way you can adjust your Exchange Visitor Program experience. Throughout your program, unforeseen circumstances may arise that require you to change your original plan. As long as you remain mindful of the date your visa expires and submit documentation on time, you should be able to work with us to rework your program experience to fit your needs.
One possible reason for adjusting a J-1 Visa is changing the EVP category. To do this, the change must be consistent with a participant's original intention for their time abroad. For example, it’s possible to get a J-1 graduate visa extension. A research scholar in the US on a J-1 visa may decide that they would like to pursue doctoral study to enhance their skill-set. In this case, the category change is consistent with their original cultural exchange and professional development goals. A category change must also be necessary because of unusual circumstances.
Global Internships cannot process these requests and we encourage all J-1 Exchange Visitors to return home at the completion of their program. However, should circumstances warrant and a change of category is needed. EVs must file a request with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you apply for an adjustment and do not receive it, you must leave the United States before the 30 day grace period for a J-1 visa is up.
Termination & Reinstatement
Termination from a program is possible if participants do not follow the rules set out for them. Violations include:
- Not maintaining the proper insurance
- Not participating in the program you traveled to the US to complete
- Pursuing other employment opportunities.
However, this does not mean that any small oversight warrants termination. It's possible to make a mistake, like failing to extend the DS-2019 in time or failing to transfer to another program before your previous program ends. In these situations, a program officer may be able to help reinstate you, though this is not always possible. If you ever have any questions about rules and regulations regarding the J-1 visa for the EVP, you can always reach out to our friendly staff. We provide support while you are abroad.
Criteria for J-1 Visa Waiver
Most Exchange Visitor Programs require participants to return to their home country to live for two years following their stay in the US on a J-1 Visa. This does not mean that participants cannot return to visit the US. It simply means that they are not eligible to apply for a green card or other working visas in the two years following their program.
However, if you are unable to fulfill the Exchange Visitor two-year home residency physical presence requirement, you may be able to apply for a J-1 Visa waiver. There are a few reasons this requirement may be waived. We will describe them in depth below.
“No Objection” Statement
Unless you are receiving graduate medical training in the United States, you are eligible to receive a “no objection” statement from your country of legal permanent resident. Getting this document differs by country and not all countries dispense “no objection” documents. Generally, it takes 6 to 8 weeks to receive the document. Before you request a No objection statement, you should begin filling out the waiver application online.
The official name of this waiver is the DS-3035. It is very important that you print this document with a barcode, or it will not be adequately processed. Additionally, you must submit the DS-3035 to the Department of State along with the application fee. If the department does not receive these two items together, they will return them to you. It generally takes 12-16 weeks to process a “no objection” request, meaning that you have plenty of time to contact your local governments to receive a “no objection” statement after you fill out the US online waiver application.
“No objection'' statements let the US Department of State know that your home country has no problem with you remaining in the US past the J-1 visa time limit and potentially pursuing US citizenship.
Project for a US Government Agency
Perhaps, as a part of your Exchange Visitor Program, you are working on a project that benefits a US government agency or is directly supervised by a US government agency. The agency benefiting from your project may decide that a two-year departure after your J-1 visa expires would be damaging to its interests.
If this is the case, the agency may request an Interested Government Agency Waiver in the form of a letter. The letter must explain how your work is valuable to the United States’ public and how your two-year absence from the country would pose a significant challenge to the project. The head of this agency must then sign the request and submit it for review.
Request by the US Public Health Department
Are you a foreign physician in the US as an Exchange Visitor for graduate education or training? You may be eligible to obtain a waiver of the Exchange Visitor two-year home-country physical presence requirement if you agree to work in a medically under-served US location. In this instance, required documents include:
- A letter from the head of an agency explaining why your stay would benefit the US
- A signed contract for a minimum of three years in the facility you will be working
- Evidence that the clinic or facility is either in a Health Professional Shortage or Medically Underserved area
- A statement verifying this claim from the head of the facility or clinic
- Evidence that the clinic tried and failed to hire a US citizen physician
Suppose you believe that, upon return to your home country, you will experience persecution based on your race, religion, or political opinions. Because of this, you wish to stay in the US after your J-1 visa validity period ends. In that case, you are eligible to apply for a persecution waiver. The form you must fill out is called the I-612. It costs USD $930 to submit this application. You must send the I-612 to the USCIS.
In addition to the I-612, you must submit a statement which details why you believe you will be subject to persecution in your home country. Including evidence of this persecution is encouraged.
US Citizen Spouse or Child
Some EVP participants have a spouse or children who are US citizens or lawful permanent residents. While being separated from them to complete the home country residency is not sufficient evidence to have this requirement waived, you may be able to prove that your separation would constitute significant hardship.
Similar to applying for a waiver due to potential persecution, you must fill out an I-612 form. You also must submit a statement detailing why your two-year home-country physical presence would significantly harm your family. This statement must include relevant financial information (including savings). Again, any evidence you have to prove hardship should be attached to the statement.
J-1 Extension Alternatives: Virtual Internships
It is possible that–despite your efforts to secure a J-1 visa extension, adjust your program, or waive the two-year home country residency requirement–you must leave the United States at the end of your Exchange Visitor Program. However, this does not mean that you cannot continue to receive professional training at a US-based company. A great alternative to completing an EVP in the US is participating in a virtual remote internship. At Global Internships, we partner with many different companies that offer virtual internships in a variety of fields, like marketing and technology. Below we’ll provide some insight into what a typical virtual internship looks like and give you tips for completing one successfully.
What are Virtual Internships?
So, what are virtual internships? Virtual internships are a form of remote work that allows participants to experience working for a company abroad without acquiring a J-1 visa. Roles participants may fill as a virtual intern include:
- Data scientist
- Mobile developer
- Software engineer
- Full-stack web developer
- UX designer
We partner with a variety of companies looking for a variety of skills: from social media, to finance, to business development.
At Global Internships, we can help you through the entire process of landing a virtual internship. With us, you’ll:
- Apply online
- Locate a match
- Receive an offer
- Start your internship!
Once you begin your program, we will continue to support you by conducting monthly check-ins and potentially sponsoring your J-1 visa if your position returns to the office.
Making the Most of an Internship
It can take some extra effort to make meaningful connections and achieve your goals during a virtual internship since you will be responsible for reaching out to supervisors and independently managing your time. We’ve got you covered with some helpful tips on how you can make the most of a remote internship.
- Set boundaries between your home and work-life
- Focus on what you like about your work
- Make an effort to build relationships with colleagues
- Ask for feedback!
- Learn as much as you can
- Reach out if you need help
- Keep track of and reflect on your achievements
- Maintain connections after your internship
Renewing & Extending Your J-1 Visa: Last Notes
We are thrilled that you are having such an amazing EVP experience that you would like to extend your J-1 visa. As your sponsor, we are happy to assist you in the J-1 visa renewal or extension process. As you learned above, most application processes to waive the home country stay requirements or to extend or adjust your EVP status include an online form, a letter, and supporting evidence. In order to successfully complete this process, make sure you are paying attention to the date when your program ends. That way, you’ll be sure to leave yourself enough time to extend your J-1 visa.
Supporting you every step of the way is our priority. We believe that top talent for a global economy begins with global internships, so we provide top-notch resources. Our quality services help talented interns and well-respected employers connect across borders for meaningful, enriching experiences. Connect with us to get started.