J1 Visa For Teachers:

Things You Must Know


The immense contributions that foreign national teachers have made in the fields of education and research resulted in many U.S. educational institutions exhibiting eagerness to engage them.

In this article we present a snap shot of one of the most popular US work visa options for teachers – the J1 Visa.

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The J1 Visa For Teachers

The J1 visa category encompasses a wide range of foreign national exchange visitors, including, but not limited to, teachers, professors, and research scholars who are coming temporarily to the U.S. as a participant in a designated exchange program for a certain specific purpose, which include teaching, instructing or lecturing.

The two main categories under the J1 visa for educators are “Teachers” and “Professor/Research Scholars“.

1. J1 Visa Eligibility Conditions For Teacher Exchange Program

In order to be eligible to seek a J1 visa for teachers, the following important conditions, among others, must be satisfied:

  1. The foreign national teacher must be seeking to enter the U.S. for the purpose of teaching full time at a primary or secondary accredited educational institution.
  2. The foreign national teacher must meet the qualifications for teaching in primary or secondary schools in their country of nationality or last legal residence.
  3. The foreign national teacher must possess, at a minimum, the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree in education or the academic subject in which they intend to teach.
  4. The foreign national teacher must have a minimum of 2 years of teaching or related professional experience.
  5. The foreign national teacher must meet the qualifications for teaching in the U.S. State where he or she will teach.
  6. The foreign national teacher must be proficient in the English language.

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2. J1 Visa Eligibility Conditions For Professor/Research Scholar Program

In order to be eligible to seek a J1 visa under the Professor/Research Scholar Program, the following important conditions, among others, must be satisfied:

1.The foreign national professor must not be placed on tenure track at the host institution.

2.The foreign national professor could not have been a J1 Professor/Research Scholar within the last 24 months.

3.The foreign national professor should not have participated in any J1 Visa program for all or part of the 1 year period immediately preceding the start date of a professor or research scholar program unless one of the following exceptions are met:

a.The foreign national professor is currently in the professor/research scholar program and is merely transferring to another institution.

b.The foreign national professor’s prior physical presence in the U.S. in J1 status was less than six months in duration, or

c.The foreign national professor was previously a short-term scholar.

Related: Professors and Researchers – US Visa Options J-1, H-1B, O-1, TN

The spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of a J1 visa holder are entitled to J2 visa classification.

J2 visa holders may obtain work authorization and engage in productive employment after obtaining the appropriate Employment Authorization Document. However, the J2 beneficiary must show that his or her income is not being used to support the principal J1 foreign national teacher.

3. The J1 Visa Application Process

Under the Teacher Exchange Program, to qualify for the J1 visa for teachers, a foreign national teacher must be sponsored by a teacher exchange program.

Public and private entities designated to act as exchange “sponsors” by the Department of State facilitate the entry of foreign nationals into the U.S. as exchange visitors. These sponsors are charged with screening and selecting qualified foreign teachers and monitoring their stay in the U.S., ensuring that they are performing their teaching responsibilities. They supervise the J1 visa application process and are the main point of contact throughout the teacher exchange program process. The teachers are placed or teach at “host” institutions.

Professors and Research Scholar J1’s are generally sponsored directly by the institutes of higher education where they will be teaching and/or working.

In a J1 visa classification, foreign national teachers or professors are usually admitted for the duration of their program.

4. J1 Home Residency Requirement

Certain foreign nationals entering the U.S. on a J1 visa program will be subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement, commonly known as the “J1 Home Residency Requirement“. The foreign national will be required to return to their home country at the end of their exchange visitor program and stay there for at least two years before they can obtain certain types of nonimmigrant visas or the legal permanent residency.

While J1 Waivers do exist, foreign national teachers should not only thoroughly explore the various J1 visa programs that may be available to them but also check the nature of the program to understand clearly whether the program falls under the two year foreign residency requirement or not for their country of nationality or last permanent residence. The foreign national teacher should also explore the feasibility of the J1 Waiver options.


Many factors goes into consideration when evaluating the visa for teachers and professors, including the 2-year J1 Home Residency Requirement and the feasibility of getting a J1 waiver.

Considering that foreign national teachers have a variety of visa options to choose from, such teachers should evaluate all the options against their individual situation before deciding on J1 visa.

If you have any questions regarding the J1 visa for teachers, or need help in filing a US work visa for teachers, contact our experienced immigration attorneys immediately for a FREE Immigration Consultation.

We’ll analyze your specific situation and recommend the most effective strategy based on our attorneys’ near 100% success rates.

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