J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa – Secondary School Students

1. J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa – Secondary School Student Program.

22 C.F.R. § 62.25 (a).

Foreign national secondary students participating in a J-1 Secondary School Student Program are afforded the opportunity to study in a United States public or private secondary school, while living with an American host family or residing at a U.S. boarding school, for a period of up to one year.

2. Criteria for J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa – Secondary School Student. 22 C.F.R. § 62.25 (e).

To be eligible for a J-1 Secondary School Student program, foreign nationals must:

  • Be bona fide secondary school students who have not completed more than eleven years of schooling or are between 15 and 18 and six months years of age at the time of enrollment;
  • Demonstrate maturity, good character, and scholastic aptitude; and
  • Have not previously participated in an academic year or semester secondary school student exchange program in the United States.

3. J-1 Secondary School Student Activities.

Students may participate in school extra-curricular activities, including athletics. However, students may not be employed on either a full or part-time basis, but may accept sporadic or intermittent employment such as babysitting or yard work.

4. J-1 Secondary School Student Program Sponsor Obligations.

Sponsors must obtain prior written acceptance for the enrollment of any student participant in a United States public or private secondary school. Sponsors must also provide students, prior to their departure from the home country, with the following information:

  • A summary of all operating procedures, rules, and regulations governing student participation in the exchange program;
  • A detailed profile of the school, family, and community in which the student is placed;
  • A detailed summary of travel arrangements; and
  • An identification card which lists the student’s name, United States home placement address and telephone number, and a telephone number which affords immediate contact with the sponsor in case of emergency. Such cards may be provided in advance of home country departure or immediately upon entry into the United States.

Sponsors have to screen all potential host families and at a minimum must:

  • Provide potential host families with a detailed summary of the exchange program;
  • Utilize a standard application form for all host family applicants which provides a detailed summary and profile of the host family, the physical home environment, family composition, and community environment;
  • Conduct an in-person interview with all family members residing in the home;
  • Ensure that the host family is capable of providing a comfortable and nurturing home environment;
  • Secure two personal references for each host family from the school or community, attesting to the host family’s good reputation and character;
  • Ensure that the host family has adequate financial resources to undertake hosting obligations; and
  • Maintain a record of application forms, evaluations, and interviews for all selected host families for a period of three years.

5. Alternatives to the J-1 Secondary School Student program.

The J-1 Secondary School Student category should be compared with the F-1 Visa – Student category. The F-1 Student Visa may be more appealing to prospective students since the student would not be subject to the two-year home country residence requirement, which may apply to students under the J-1 program.