J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR
The J-1 is an exchange visitor (EV) visa.
UAH is a J-1 program sponsor, and the OIE manages the J-1 program under the auspices of the EV program. The J-1 visa is used by exchange students (degree and non degree-seeking) and by research scholars and professors at UAH.
To qualify for a J-1 visa, you must be sponsored and funded by your home university, UAH, a government, an agency, a foundation, an employer, or an international organization authorized to participate in an EV program. You may use personal funds, but you must still be sponsored by an academic department or research center at UAH.
If you qualify for a J-1 visa, your spouse/dependent(s) will be given a J-2 visa. Spouses in J-2 status may apply to the Department of Homeland Security for permission to work after their arrival in the US; however, employment authorization is not guaranteed and jobs are sometimes difficult to acquire.
Some J-1 visa holders are subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement. J-1 holders who are subject to this requirement must return to their home country upon completion of their academic program for a period of two years before reentering the US in H-1, L-1, or permanent residence status.
Maintenance of J-1 Status
Exchange visitors must take care during their stay to maintain lawful J-1 status, as failure to do so can have serious long-term consequences.
Report to OIE upon arrival. You are expected to report to the OIE within 5 days of arrival to the US to complete mandated orientation, provide a local address, and make your insurance payment.
Validate of SEVIS record. Your SEVIS record must be validated no later than 30 days after the program start date.
Carry health insurance as mandated by the US Department of State. Every exchange visitor (both J-1 and J-2) is required to obtain health insurance that meets the US Department of State minimum requirements. This insurance must be maintained throughout the entire program participation period. It is your responsibility to make timely insurance premium payments to ensure continuous insurance coverage.
Maintain required documents
Do not let your visa expire. Your duration of status, or D/S, is the program period listed as item 3 on your DS-2019 plus a period of 30 days for the purpose of travel.
Comply with all program expectations. If you are a student, you will be expected to carry a full-time course of study; if you are a Research Scholar or Professor, you will be expected to perform research, teach, or conduct other previously approved academic activities.
Be employed only by your Program Sponsor unless otherwise given authorization to work. Unauthorized employment is a violation of program status. Any unauthorized employment that a J exchange visitor engages in will result in the termination of the J program.
Discuss any international travel plans with your OIE advisor PRIOR to making any travel plans. A signature from your advisor will be required for you to be eligible for readmission to the US as a J-1 using the same DS-2019.
Report address changes. Report changes of address to your OIE advisor within 10 days of the address change.
H-1B Temporary Worker
The H-1B temporary worker status is used for longer-term employment in teaching, research, and limited types of staff positions. Presently, workers may obtain H-1B status for a period of up to three years, with one extension of status for an additional three-year period, for a total of six years. The employment should normally be full-time but may be part-time under limited circumstances.
The employment to be fulfilled must be deemed a “specialty occupation” meaning a professional position that requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent. If the position is one that does not generally require a college degree, then it may not be possible to obtain an H-1B visa for that occupation. In such circumstances it is generally necessary to provide substantial documentation of past hiring practices for the employer or other employers engaged in similar business. The individual worker must prove that he/she is qualified for the specialty occupation, and for the specific job offered by the employer. The individual must be able to show that his/her foreign university degree is equivalent to a US degree, and that the area of academic specialization is relevant to the job to be performed. If the individual does not possess a college degree, but possesses many years of experience in the occupation, then professional experience may be substituted for academic training under certain conditions.
The H-1B process involves US Department of Labor and USCIS review and processing and substantial processing fees. H-1B petition fees, including the I-129 filing fee, the Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee, and dependent I-539 change of status filing fee, must be paid by the employing department. If the petition must be filed using expedited processing, then an additional $1000 “premium processing” fee must be paid by the department unless the foreign national has chosen to expedite the petition for personal benefit. Part-time employment is appropriate only in unusual situations. Departments that decide to hire a foreign national part-time must agree to closely monitor hours worked and provide the OIE a copy of bi-weekly timesheets as required by the Department of Labor.
H-1B status can provide a transition to employment based permanent residence or a “green card” for qualified foreign nationals.
Dependents of an H-1B are eligible for H-4 status. H-4 dependents are eligible to study but are not eligible to work while in the US.
TN NAFTA Professional Worker
The TN temporary worker status was established through NAFTA as non-immigrant status for Canadian and Mexican professionals working in the US temporarily. The classification is only available to qualified members of certain pre-determined occupations and allows for expedited entry of these professionals.
TN status requires a foreign national employee to documenting their citizenship and that the professional employment they will be involved in doing meets the TN Professional Worker criteria at a US port of entry. The period of admission/stay is granted in maximum three-year increments and there is no cumulative time limit as long as the stay remains temporary in nature.
TN status is reserved for professional positions (normally non-tenure). It can be either full-time or part-time but temporary in nature. Tenure track or permanent research positions should consider instead the H-1B classification. Possible positions at UAH that may be eligible are teacher, scientist, research assistant, computer systems analyst (not programmers), engineer, and economist.
Dependents of a TN employee are eligible for TD status. TD dependents are eligible to study but not work while in the US.