Rules Applying to the J Visa (Cultural Exchange Visitor Visa)
Applicable Rules for Adjustments to the J-1 Status
Program Extension- 22 CFR 62.43
Extensions of Status
Extensions beyond the maximum program duration are allowed in some program categories for exceptional or unusual circumstances, with approval from the Department of State. To obtain approval for such extensions, the responsible officer must submit a written request that justifies the petition and provides supporting documentation to the Department of State on behalf of the participant. A nonrefundable fee of $198 is payable to the U.S. Department of State. Participants are referred to their responsible officers for additional information. [22 CFR 62.43]
Change of Category- 22 CFR 62.41
Change of Visa Category
Any change of category must be clearly consistent with and closely related to the participant's original exchange objective, and necessary due to unusual or exceptional circumstances. Participants should address all inquiries regarding change of category to the responsible officer of their programs. The responsible officer submits a written request with supporting justification for the change to the Department of State on behalf of the participant. A nonrefundable fee of $198 is payable to the US Department of State.
If the Department grants the request, the responsible officer issues a new Form DS-2019 that reflects the change. If the request is denied, the participant is expected to return home no later than 30 days from the date of the Department's notice or the program's end date indicated on the Form DS-2019, whichever is later. [22 CFR 62.41]
Transfer- 22 CFR 62.42 From one program to another
The transfer of a participant from one program (sponsor) to another may be allowed at the discretion of the responsible officers and must be within the same category. The responsible officer of the program to which the participant seeks to transfer is required to verify the participant's visa status and eligibility, to issue a new Form DS-2019 reflecting the transfer, and to obtain the release of the participant from the current responsible officer, who indicates approval of the transfer by completing and signing block 8 of the new Form DS-2019. Transfers are not permitted in all categories, and a transfer does not extend the maximum duration of the program. [22 CFR 62.42]
Termination- 22 CFR 62.40
Termination of J Visa Holder Status Participants are subject to the Department of State's Exchange Visitor Program regulations, and to the rules specified by their sponsors. Participants found to be in violation of program regulations and/or sponsors' rules may be terminated from the program.
Other grounds for termination include, but are not limited to 1) failure to pursue the exchange activities for which the participant was admitted to the United States; 2) inability to continue the program; 3) willful failure to maintain insurance coverage as required under 22 CFR 62.14; and 4) unauthorized employment. [22 CFR 62.40]
Participants who withdraw or are terminated from their exchange programs are expected to leave the United States immediately.
Reinstatement- 22 CFR 62.45
Reinstatement of J Visa Holder StatusReinstatement to valid program status becomes necessary when 1) an exchange visitor's participation in his or her program has somehow interrupted or ended; or 2) the participant remains in the United States beyond the program end date indicated on the current Form DS-2019. Regulatory violations requiring reinstatement of the visitor's status are classified as: minor or technical infractions, which are considered to be a "correction of the record," and which the responsible officer may adjust without prior authorization of the Department of State; substantive, which require the authorization of the Department of State prior to adjustment; and non-reinstatable.
Minor Or Technical Infractions
Infractions include but are not limited to: failure to 1) extend a participant's program before the end date on the Form DS-2019; 2) process a program transfer prior to the end date on the Form DS-2019; or 3) receive approval and an amended Form DS-2019 prior to accepting an honorarium or other type of payment for an allowable activity.
The responsible officer may correct the participant's record within 120 days of the stated end date of the participant's program by issuing a new Form DS-2019 that 1) shows continued authorized stay without interruption; 2) indicates the appropriate purpose code and the additional notation "correct the record"; and 3) is dated as of the date the adjusted Form DS-2019 is executed.
These infractions include: 1) failure to maintain valid program status for more than 120 calendar days after the program end date indicated on the Form DS-2019; and, if the participant is a student, 2) failure to maintain a full course of study without prior consultation with (and approval of) the responsible officer or the alternate responsible officer of the sponsor and with the student's academic advisor.
The responsible officer must apply to the Department of State for reinstatement on behalf of the participant. The petition should include: 1) all copies of the participant's Forms DS-2019 issued to date; 2) a new, completed Form DS-2019, showing in Block 3 the new program end date; a copy of the receipt showing that the Public Law 104-208 fee has been paid; a written statement with supporting documentation justifying the request. The statement should 1) declare that the exchange visitor is pursuing at all times the activity for which he or she entered the United States; and show that 2) the participant's failure to maintain valid program status was due to circumstances beyond his or her control or to administrative delay or oversight; and 3) it would be an unusual hardship to the participant if the Department of State does not grant the reinstatement to valid program status.
A nonrefundable fee of $198 is payable to the US Department of State. Program regulations provide additional information on the application process for reinstatement petitions due to substantive infractions.
Applications for reinstatement showing any of these infractions will be denied: 1) willful and knowing failure to comply with program insurance requirements; 2) unauthorized employment; 3) involuntary suspension or termination from the most recent exchange visitor program; 4) failure to maintain valid program status for more than 270 calendar days; 5) receipt of a favorable recommendation from the Department of State on an application for waiver of section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act [8 USC 1182(e); and 6) failure to pay the Public Law 104-208 fee.
As you can see, there are many legal complexities to a Cultural Exchange Visa. As such, the first thing you should do is seek legal advise from a knowledgeable Immigration lawyer. Immigration law is complex and ever-changing. You may be eligible for a J visa or may be better suited for another type of visa. Empower yourself. Get informed!