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U.S. Department of State  
95/08/01 Visas: Exchange Visitors  
Bureau of Consular Affairs  
  
  
                             EXCHANGE VISITORS 
  
CLASSIFICATIONS 
  
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides two nonimmigrant visa  
categories for persons to participate in exchange visitor programs in  
the United States.  The "J" visa is for educational and cultural  
exchange programs designated by the U.S. Information Agency, (USIA) and  
the "Q" visa is for international cultural exchange programs designated  
by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).  
  
The "J" exchange visitor program is designed to promote the interchange  
of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and  
sciences.  Participants include students at all academic levels;   
trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and  
agencies;  teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools;   
professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher  
learning;  research scholars;  professional trainees in the medical and  
allied fields;  and international visitors coming for the purpose of  
travel, observation, consultation, research, training, sharing, or  
demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in  
organized people-to-people programs.   
  
The "Q" international cultural exchange program is for the purpose of  
providing practical training, employment, and the sharing of the  
history, culture, and traditions of the participant's home country in  
the United States.   
  
BACKGROUND REQUIREMENTS  
  
Financial Resources  
  
Participants in the "J" exchange visitor program must have sufficient  
funds to cover all expenses, or funds must be provided by the sponsoring  
organization in the form of a scholarship or other stipend.  "Q"  
exchange visitors will be paid by their employing sponsor at the same  
rate paid to local domestic workers similarly employed.  
  
Scholastic Preparation  
  
"J" exchange visitors must have sufficient scholastic preparation to  
participate in the designated program, including knowledge of the  
English language, or the exchange program must be designed to  
accommodate non-English speaking participants.  The "Q" exchange visitor  
must be 18 years old and be able to communicate effectively about the  
cultural attributes of his or her country.  
  
Medical Education and Training  
  
Exchange visitors coming under the "J" program for graduate medical  
education or training must meet certain special requirements.  They  
include having passed the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in  
Medical Sciences, demonstrating competency in English, being  
automatically subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement  
(later), and being subject to time limits on the duration of their  
program.  Physicians coming to the United States on exchange visitor  
programs for the purpose of observation, consultation, teaching, or  
research in which there is little or no patient care are not subject to  
the above requirements.  
  
Forms/Petitions  
  
Participants in the "J" program must present a Form IAP-66 prepared by a  
designated sponsoring organization.  Participants in the "Q" program  
must have the designated sponsoring organization file Form I-129,  
Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with the Immigration and  
Naturalization Service (INS).  The INS will notify the sponsor on Form  
I-797 when the petition is approved.  It should be noted that the  
approval of a petition does not guarantee visa issuance to an applicant  
found to be ineligible under  the Immigration and Nationality Act.  
  
VISA INELIGIBILITY/ WAIVER  
  
The nonimmigrant visa application Form OF-156 lists classes of persons  
who are ineligible under U.S. law to receive visas.  In some instances  
an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly  
classifiable as an exchange visitor, may apply for a waiver of  
ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved.  
  
APPLYING FOR THE VISA  
  
Applicants for exchange visitor visas should generally apply at the U.S.  
Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent  
residence.  Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular  
office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside  
the country of permanent residence.  
  
Required Documentation  
  
Each applicant for an exchange visitor visa must submit:  
  
1)   An application Form OF-156, completed and signed.  Blank forms are  
available without charge at all U.S. consular offices;  
  
2)  A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity  
date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay  
in the United States.  If more than one person is included in the  
passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application;  
  
3)   One photograph 1 and 1/2 inches square (37x37mm) for each applicant  
aged 16 and older, showing full face, without head covering, against a  
light background;  and  
  
4)  For the "J" applicant, a completed Form IAP-66.  For the "Q"  
applicant, a notice of approval, Form I-797.  
  
Other Documentation  
  
Both "J" and "Q" applicants must demonstrate to the consular officer  
that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country which  
they have no intention of abandoning, and that they are coming to the  
United States for a temporary period.  It is impossible to specify the  
exact form the evidence should take since applicants' circumstances vary  
greatly.  
  
U.S. PORT OF ENTRY  
  
Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the  
United States.  The INS has authority to deny admission.  Also, the  
period for which the bearer of an exchange visitor visa is authorized to  
remain in the United States is determined by the INS, not the consular  
officer.  At the port of entry, an INS official validates Form I-94,  
Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted.  
  
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION  
  
Employment  
  
Employment while in "J" exchange visitor status depends upon the terms  
of the program.  Participants in programs which provide for on-the-job  
training, teaching, research, or other activities which involve paid  
employment may accept such employment.  Participants in programs which  
do not involve work may not accept outside employment.  The "Q"  
international cultural exchange program specifically authorizes paid  
employment as part of the program.  
  
Foreign Residency Requirement  
  
Certain "J" exchange visitors who participate in programs which were  
financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of  
the U.S. Government or by the exchange visitor's government, or who are  
nationals or residents of a country which have been designated by USIA  
as requiring the skills of the exchange visitor, must return to their  
country of nationality or last residence after completing their program  
in the United States, and reside there physically for two years before  
they may become eligible to apply for an immigrant or temporary worker  
visa.  "Q" exchange visitors may not particpate in another "Q" program  
until they have been abroad for one year.  
  
Family Members  
  
The spouse and minor children of participants in "J" exchange programs  
may apply for derivative "J-2" visas to accompany or follow to join the  
principal alien by presenting a copy of the principal's Form IAP-66.   
They must demonstrate that they will have sufficient financial resources  
to cover all expenses while in the United States.  Dependents may  apply  
to the INS for authorization to accept employment in the U.S.  The "Q"  
exchange program does not provide for the admission of the spouse or  
children of a participant in a derivative status.  
  
FURTHER INQUIRIES  
  
Questions about the "J" programs, Form IAP-66, and the ability to change  
programs or extend within a program should be made to the USIA, Exchange  
Visitor Program Office,Washington, D.C.  Questions about "Q" petitioning  
procedures, qualifications for various classifications, and conditions  
and limitations on employment should be made by the prospective employer  
or agent in the United States to the nearest INS office.  Questions on  
visa application procedures at the American consular office abroad  
should be made to that consular office by the applicant.  
  
  
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE  
PUBLICATION 10077  
Bureau of Consular Affairs  
Visa Services Directorate  
August 1995  


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