J-1 Visas

Alarming Change of Policy for Treatment of Certain Status Violations for F, J, and M Visa Holders

On May 10, 2018, USCIS announced a draft policy memorandum titled “Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants.” F, J, and M nonimmigrant visas are for international students, scholars, and participants in international educational/cultural exchange programs (including interns and trainees).  The draft policy is slated to become final and effective on August 9, 2018.

In the draft policy, USCIS announced a dramatic change to the treatment of “status violations” by individuals in the U.S. on F, J, and M visas. A status violation is any failure to meet a term or condition of the visa, including unknowing and unintentional technical violations (e.g., lowering one’s course load below a certain number of credit hours, engaging in casual work, accruing too many days of non-work after school completion, etc.).

State Department to commence field visits across the United States in review of its J-1 (Exchange Visitor) Visa Program

News Release from Jewell & Associates, PC

The U.S. Department of State recently notified J-1-sponsoring organizations that it intends to conduct field visits of companies hosting interns and trainees on J-1 (Exchange Visitor) visas. The State Department's Exchange Visitor Program exists to foster global understanding through educational and cultural exchange. Foreign national participants in the program are issued J-1 visas in order to enter the United States, and are expected to return to their home country to share their exchange experiences when their program is complete. The State Department is planning to visit exchange visitors and their host companies across the United States as part of a review of the Intern and Trainee categories of this program. The visits will begin this month and they will be unannounced and unscheduled.

While most bad publicity about the Exchange Visitor Program has been focused on abuses of the Summer Work and Travel Program, it appears that the Department of State is implementing reviews program-wide to ensure participant safety and well-being. It is reasonable to assume that State representatives will want to talk to visitors and host company representatives about subjects at the core of the Exchange Visitor Program, including: The exchange visitors' experiences in the United States to date; how the host has introduced its visitors to American culture; the host's reasons for participating in the Exchange Visitor Program; and the new skills the host is teaching its visitors. Host companies with questions about these visits may contact their sponsoring organization for more information on what to expect.

By Christopher Beckerson and Claire Pratt. © Jewell & Associates, PC 2014 © Jewell & Associates, PC 2014