J-1 or F-1 visa??

sltrukshan
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:30 pm

J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby sltrukshan » Mon Apr 28, 2008 5:21 am

Hi,

I'm an international student. I would like to know the basic differences (advantages & dis-advantages) between F-1 and J-1 visa types.

excel
Posts: 257
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:33 am

Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby excel » Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:03 am

As I understand it, J-1 is for exchange students--these students will not complete their degree in the U.S., whereas F-1 is for students enrolling in a degree-seeking program in the U.S. The university that you will join should be able to tell you the correct visa to apply for.

Geoff Olynyk
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:28 pm

Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby Geoff Olynyk » Tue Apr 29, 2008 8:16 am

Excel, that's not true, the J-1 "student" visa is basically an F-1 but with one important difference -- your spouse can join you in the United States on a J-2 and is allowed to get a SSN and seek employment. F-2 spouses cannot do this.

There are restrictions on the J-1 which do not apply to the F-1, such as: you are only eligible for a J-1 if the "majority" of your funding comes from governmental or scholarship sources (usually not a problem for physics graduate students); you must purchase a comprehensive medical insurance plan (or be given one by the school, also usually not a problem), etc. One J-1 restriction that can be a problem for many people: if your name appears on a "skills list" put out by the Department of State, you have to return home for 2-3 years before you're allowed to get another United States visa.

I have put a significant amount of research into the differences between the two types of student visas. Send me an email (g e o f f _atsign_ o l y n y k . n a m e) if you'd like more information.

Geoff Olynyk
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:28 pm

Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby Geoff Olynyk » Tue Apr 29, 2008 8:22 am

I should add to that: if you are not trying to bring a significant other with you, then there isn't really an advantage (that I have found, anyway) to a J-1 over an F-1.

Plus they just extended the "optional practical training period" for F-1 holders to 17 months. (See: http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/pr_1207334008610.shtm ). This is a period of time after you finish your degree where you are allowed to stay in the country and work.

Basically you use this time to get a job, work for a year-and-a-half and convince the company that you are good enough that they should sponsor you for an H-1 employment visa, or for an employment-based permanent resident card (green card), etc.

If you're planning to return to your home country after completion of your doctorate, this won't apply to you. But who among us can really say what our plans are going to be 5-7 years from now?

sltrukshan
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:30 pm

Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby sltrukshan » Fri May 02, 2008 11:06 pm

Geoff Olynyk wrote:Excel, that's not true, the J-1 "student" visa is basically an F-1 but with one important difference -- your spouse can join you in the United States on a J-2 and is allowed to get a SSN and seek employment. F-2 spouses cannot do this.

There are restrictions on the J-1 which do not apply to the F-1, such as: you are only eligible for a J-1 if the "majority" of your funding comes from governmental or scholarship sources (usually not a problem for physics graduate students); you must purchase a comprehensive medical insurance plan (or be given one by the school, also usually not a problem), etc. One J-1 restriction that can be a problem for many people: if your name appears on a "skills list" put out by the Department of State, you have to return home for 2-3 years before you're allowed to get another United States visa.

I have put a significant amount of research into the differences between the two types of student visas. Send me an email (g e o f f _atsign_ o l y n y k . n a m e) if you'd like more information.

Thanks for your valuable ideas. I'll email you

sltrukshan
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:30 pm

Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby sltrukshan » Fri May 02, 2008 11:08 pm

Geoff Olynyk wrote:But who among us can really say what our plans are going to be 5-7 years from now?


Exactly

excel
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby excel » Sat May 03, 2008 7:43 pm

I see, thanks for correcting me.

ibbgs
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby ibbgs » Mon May 05, 2008 9:00 am

To add to what has been previously said. J-1 has the largest advantage that your spouse can join you and work while there. You can also extend your J-1 to a postdoctoral position. The F-1 on the other hand allows you to work another job on the side (McJob) to supplement your income while the J-1 does not. You can only get a J-1 however if you are receiving all (the majority) of the necessary funding for your stay in the states from an outside institution (can be you grad school or NSF, NSERC etc., can be foreign or US fellowship.). I am also a foreign student and I have elected to take a J-1, mostly because I am going to be accompanied by a spouse. I would say J-1 is the better choice in general, but it depends on your situation.

Geoff Olynyk
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Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:28 pm

Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby Geoff Olynyk » Mon May 05, 2008 1:15 pm

ibbgs wrote:...


ibbgs, I think the ability to extend a J-1 to a post-doctoral position is not really an advantage because you can always come on an F-1 for your Ph.D. and then re-apply for J-1 for the post-doc if you want to stay (you just have to leave and re-enter the country).

Of course I'm assuming most of the people here are coming from places that aren't a "problem" for US immigration -- if you're an international student from North Korea, it might be a good idea to try to get a visa that allows you to stay for as long as possible without having to reapply...

But yes, the big deal about the J-1 is J-2 employment. Read this story from Business Week if you want to see some intense rationalization from spouses of F-1 students about how it's not such a big deal that they have to give up their career to come be a stay-at-home husband or wife to their F-1 partner. (At least business school -- which the article is about -- is only 2 years!)

Anyway, I refuse to be optimistic about American immigration. Given my luck on anything bureaucratic, I expect Clinton or Obama to win the Presidency and then immediately revoke the J-2 work permission (around the same time they tear up NAFTA), just to spite me.

shouravv
Posts: 84
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby shouravv » Tue May 06, 2008 4:59 pm

If you are at all serious about your research and plan to have an extended career in the US academia, certainly get the F-1 and NOT J-1. I am an international student finishing college in the US and going into grad school this fall. Plus I work for a professor in my college who came to the US after finishing college out of the US and then did his PhD and a 5 year post-doc before getting his current job. So yes, I know.

Consider this: upon completing your PhD as a F-1 student you have 12+17 = 29 months of work permit under the STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). That is enough time to get a 3+3 = 6 years H1-B for a post-doc. Then, once you have a tenure tracked teaching or research job, you will qualify for the practically unlimited number of Green Cards available to the universities / research labs to sponsor. Some people even get H1-B while being a post-doc, specially if they have a fellowship.

If you are on J-1, then upon completing grad school you can't take a post-doc position in the US before spending 2 years in your home country. If you are a post-doc on J-1, you can't take a faculty position in the US immediately either. Yes, your spouse can work in the US if you are on J-1. But the reality is, unless you are married to a MBA, s/he will be working in the supermarket or local school. Better encourage him/her to apply to some graduate program while on F-2. Even better, although it's a long shot, when someone is on F-2, they can find a job, and leave US to get their own H-1B. But again, that's a long shot.

The bottom line is, if you plan to do research in the US on the long run, go for F-1.

ibbgs
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby ibbgs » Wed May 07, 2008 8:55 am

I should add that for Canadian or Mexican students who wish to post-doc or work in industry for an indefinite amount of time (but eventually return home or switch visas to a green card-track H1B), the NAFTA TN-1 visa is available to you for an indefinite number of 1-year terms (you can't apply for a green card). There is no application process, you just need to bring the correct documents to the border. This visa must be renewed every year. There is no quota for TN-1 visas.

ibbgs
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby ibbgs » Wed May 07, 2008 9:10 am

In response to shourav's comment:

1) No you do not have to spend 2 years in your home country before returning for a post doc on a J-1 (my father did grad school and post-doc on a J-1). You do however need to transfer to the H1B program in all cases (F-1 or J-1) to apply for a green card.

2) I suspect that many of our spouses ARE highy educated and would like to NOT put their career on hold (I can certainly say that this is true in my case). The J-2 is nice because it allows the spouse to go to school and apply for a work permit.

There is always a third option for students with highly educated spouses: If they can get a primary visa through their own employer (L-1, J-1, F-1, TN-1, H-1B) then there is no need for dependent visas, however there is no guarantee that they will be accepted and a rejection on their "1" visa could adversely affect their chances of getting a "2" visa (I'm not sure about this). I would say this option is only really useful if you both are not planning on applying for a green card (ie you do want to return home) and either they are also going to grad school (for the same period of time) or you are from a NAFTA country (Canada or Mexico) and visitor type visas (non-permanent ) are relatively easyt to get.

ibbgs
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby ibbgs » Wed May 07, 2008 9:29 am

Correction: Mexican citizens do need to apply for visas at their consulate, only Canadians can do so at the border.

shouravv
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby shouravv » Wed May 07, 2008 4:34 pm

About the 2 year issue, please see -
http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/temp/t ... _1267.html

Quoting from that page -

Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement

An exchange visitor is subject to INA 212(e) requirement, if the following conditions exist:

* The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the United States government or the government of the exchange visitor's nationality or last residence;
* The exchange visitor is a national or resident of a country designated as requiring the services of persons engaged in the field of specialized knowledge or skills in which the exchange visitor was engaged for the duration of their program (Exchange Visitor Skills List 9 FAM 41.62, Exhibit II);
* The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training.

If the exchange visitor is subject to INA 212(e) requirement, he or she cannot change his or status to that of H, L, K, or immigrant lawful permanent resident (LPR) until he or she has returned to his/her home country for at least two-years or received a waiver of that requirement. Such waivers can be obtained under five separate bases: No Objection Statement, Exceptional Hardship or Persecution, Conrad Program, or Interested Government Agency.

-------------

So yes, you may get a waiver. Or may not.

Geoff Olynyk
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby Geoff Olynyk » Wed May 07, 2008 4:48 pm

And here is a pdf of the Exchange Visitor Skills List (9 FAM 41.62, Exhibit II). It is terribly formatted; the country names (headings) are printed in the same font as the list so you have to look carefully to make sure you're reading the right section.

In my case, Canada isn't even on the skills list. I do however "whole or in part directly or indirectly" get my funding from government sources (Canadian and American) so if that list is an OR, not an AND (as the language implies), than I am covered by home residency requirement. I still haven't figured out whether I am covered by it (the State Dept. language is unclear).

For most people here, they will fall under skill 5D: "Optics and Physics (including
physical chemists, metallurgists and all branches and specialties in Physics)"

If you're from:
Canada, not on list
China, 5D does apply (in fact, for China, all fields are on the list)
England / UK / Britain, not on list
France, not on list
India, 5D doesn't apply
Mexico, not on list
Spain, not on list

excel
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby excel » Wed May 07, 2008 7:59 pm

From the U.S. govt. webpage, it seems to me that I was correct after all; the J-1 visa is meant for exchange students, not usually for full-time students seeking U.S. degree.

Geoff Olynyk
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby Geoff Olynyk » Thu May 08, 2008 3:18 pm

excel wrote:From the U.S. govt. webpage, it seems to me that I was correct after all; the J-1 visa is meant for exchange students, not usually for full-time students seeking U.S. degree.

That may be the case, but the J-1 "student" class is used for full-time graduate students. See http://www.oiss.yale.edu/visa/j1status.htm . I also have that straight from the MIT International Students Office. When you send in the financial form for immigration purposes, they have check boxes for F-1 and J-1 and are happy to set you up for either (F-1 needs an I-20 form, J-1 needs a DS-2019 form).

Geoff Olynyk
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby Geoff Olynyk » Sat Apr 04, 2009 12:18 am

Just to follow up on this thread. I've been in the U.S. since August 23, 2008.

Being here on a J-1 has proved to be just fine. My RAship is reported to USCIS as "20 hours" of work per week (yeah, right...). I get a W-2, not a 1042-S for my American tax returns.

I'm still getting married this summer; still crossing my fingers that all works out with my wife entering the country and going through the J-2 work permission process!

Argonic
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby Argonic » Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:28 pm

I wonder if the information in this thread is correct.

I used to have a J-1 when I was an exchange student and was not allowed to work. Now I am on an F-1 as an undergraduate and work, but only for the university I am enrolled at. I get a W-2 as well, not a 1042-S so I think that does not depend on your visa type.

Geoff Olynyk wrote: There are restrictions on the J-1 which do not apply to the F-1, such as: you are only eligible for a J-1 if the "majority" of your funding comes from governmental or scholarship sources (usually not a problem for physics graduate students); you must purchase a comprehensive medical insurance plan (or be given one by the school, also usually not a problem), etc. One J-1 restriction that can be a problem for many people: if your name appears on a "skills list" put out by the Department of State, you have to return home for 2-3 years before you're allowed to get another United States visa.


As far as I know at least the first two restrictions also apply to F-1 visas. You have to have medical insurance and you have to have funding, usually from scholarships etc.

ibbgs wrote: The F-1 on the other hand allows you to work another job on the side (McJob) to supplement your income while the J-1 does not.


I highly doubt that an F-1 visa allows you to work just any other job on the side. I would consult an expert before attempting this. The person in charge of international students at my university told me that you can lose your visa if you do that.

I think F-1 is the better choice for graduate school, but I am not an expert (other than having had both).

FNR
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby FNR » Sun Apr 12, 2009 6:59 am

Gee, all this visa discussion is priceless. Thanks everyone! :wink:

Well, I think I am going to apply for F-1 visa then. One thing bothers me here. I am almost certain to pursue graduate studies in Physics and Science Education. More specifically, MA in Physics and PhD in Science Education at the same time from the same grad school. :D

Will I be eligible for the 12 + 17 months "optional practical training (OPT) period" for F-1 holder after graduating with double degree in Physics and Science Education? :? I understand that Physics degree holder will be eligible for OPT, but I do not know with Science Education degree holder….

vicente
Posts: 195
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby vicente » Sun Apr 12, 2009 6:19 pm

The F-1 visa does NOT let you work off-campus. You are only allowed to work on-campus. There was a proposal in the immigration reform bill two years ago to let international students in science/technology/engineering/mathematics (STEM) work off-campus but the bill failed. F-1 holders can only work off-campus if they experience some sort of unforeseen financial disaster, and only after they've spent something like a year in the U.S. already. The dumbest thing is that you have to pay several hundred dollars for the employment authorization when you are already in financial distress.

Another thing is, Canadians do not need to obtain the actual visa, they simply need to bring their I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 (for J-1 students) to the border along with proof that they registered themselves on SEVIS, the electronic database of all international students. A receipt of payment of the $100 fee is sufficient, or the I-901 form they mail to you after you pay. The USCIS officer will sign your form and staple an I-94 form to your passport after you pay a $6 fee. Then you are done until you report to your school's international student office.

FNR wrote:Gee, all this visa discussion is priceless. Thanks everyone! :wink:

Will I be eligible for the 12 + 17 months "optional practical training (OPT) period" for F-1 holder after graduating with double degree in Physics and Science Education? :? I understand that Physics degree holder will be eligible for OPT, but I do not know with Science Education degree holder….


Wow that's an interesting question, I don't know the answer when it comes to degrees being taken concurrently. What I do know is that you get new OPT for every new degree level that you complete, for example one OPT period for your Bachelor's, one OPT period for a Master's, one OPT for a Ph.D. I suppose you could apply for OPT for your Physics degree provided you were intending to work in something related to physics.

FNR
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby FNR » Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:01 pm

vicente wrote:I suppose you could apply for OPT for your Physics degree provided you were intending to work in something related to physics.


And indeed it is :) .... But what about my Science Education degree? Could I apply for OPT with that (not my Physics degree)?

Geoff Olynyk
Posts: 20
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby Geoff Olynyk » Sat May 02, 2009 8:54 pm

vicente wrote:... A receipt of payment of the $100 fee is sufficient ...

Ha. I wish it were still $100.

It's now $180 for J-1 and $200 for F-1.

Geoff Olynyk
Posts: 20
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby Geoff Olynyk » Sun Oct 25, 2009 2:01 pm

To complete this story...

We mailed the EAD application (I-765) on August 21st. They sent us a notice of receipt dated August 26th. In one month (!) she received the EAD (work permission), valid until June 6, 2014!

So everything worked out in the end. Now just to find a job... difficult when you only have Canadian references, let alone in this economy.

Geoff Olynyk
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:28 pm

Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby Geoff Olynyk » Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:27 pm

I just thought of something else that I thought I'd mention in this thread. A J-1 allows you to get a social security number. This is a pretty big convenience. Canadians already know about the necessity of a SSN (in Canada it's called a SIN) to get credit (i.e. cell phone plans that you don't have to prepay, credit cards, rental properties, etc.) I'm not sure about the rest of the world but the SSN is basically an identification number in the U.S. that is used for all kinds of things. If you don't have one it can be significantly more difficult to get the ordinary services you need in life. Hell, I needed mine to sign up for electricity and gas service... so that if I don't pay the bill, they have a way to report that to the credit agencies.


Of course, for many people the most important consideration is the amount of time you are allowed to stay in the U.S. after graduation to seek employment and convert to an H-1B. And the F-1 is the better visa for that. There's also quite a few international students who live on campus and never use any services not provided by the school. If you're in one of these cases, disregard this post :)

mercysmith
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby mercysmith » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:16 am

A J-1 visa is a exchange visitor, holders of this visa are participating in a program that's aim is to promote cultural exchanges between the two countries and an F-1 is a student visa that allows a foreign national to enter into certain levels of study in the U.S., even public high school, providing that they have the necessary funds to pay for school tuition.

http://www.touristvisaforum.com/

TakeruK
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby TakeruK » Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:12 am

There is a lot of misinformation on the web about this! I just wanted to respond to a mostly dead thread to point out something about mercysmith's post, above.

What they said is true about the J-1 and F-1 programs, however, the way it was worded implies that J-1 visas are for people participating in actual exchange programs only (e.g. a student registered at a university in their home country and attending a US school for 1 semester or 1 year). This is NOT true. You don't need to be in any exchange program, the intention of the J-1 is to promote exchange of knowledge between countries, but this can happen informally.

The real requirement for the J-1 visa is for your grad school to issue you a DS-2019. In order to do this, you have to have a "significant" part of your income coming from either your host school, the US government, or your home government -- i.e. NOT personal/family funds. I am not sure what "significant" means but other schools have said at least 50% or maybe 2/3rds. TA and RA income counts as funding from the school, and so does tuition waivers. Even if you meet this requirement, you have to convince your school to actually issue you a DS-2019 sometimes. At U. Arizona, they refused to do this and it turns out there has never been a J-1 PhD student in the department. At other schools I visited, the international students told me they were given a choice. All of the above schools were fully funded (in fact, Arizona offered more funding overall even). I just received my DS-2019 last week and will be entering the US on as a J-1 PhD student this fall.

chelseymia
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby chelseymia » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:50 am

F1 student visas and J1 student visas are very similar. For both types of visa, part-time on-campus employment is allowed during periods of full study. The difference between the two arises during periods of recess. During periods of recess, students holding F1 status may work full time. That is the main difference. And for both the VISA process you need to go through IELTS in Nagpur if IELTS certification is required..

TakeruK
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby TakeruK » Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:51 pm

The above post appears to be spam, but I just want to come back to this thread after 5.5 years! At my last post, I was just about to start my PhD program on J-1. The reason I chose J-1 status was that my spouse could have J-2 and that allows my spouse to obtain work authorization and find a job in the USA.

Update: After entering the US on J-1 and J-2, my spouse successfully obtained work authorization a few months later and found a job a few months after that. So, we were able to achieve the primary reason we wanted the J visa.

Last summer, I finished my PhD and graduated. I'm back in my home country (Canada) doing a postdoc now. I learned a lot about visa and statuses through my grad school years because I volunteered a lot with the international office. So in case anyone sees this old thread and wonders about F-1 vs J-1 and would like to talk to someone who just finished a PhD degree on J-1, send me a PM :)

nmarquez027
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby nmarquez027 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:29 am

TakeruK wrote:The above post appears to be spam, but I just want to come back to this thread after 5.5 years! At my last post, I was just about to start my PhD program on J-1. The reason I chose J-1 status was that my spouse could have J-2 and that allows my spouse to obtain work authorization and find a job in the USA.

Update: After entering the US on J-1 and J-2, my spouse successfully obtained work authorization a few months later and found a job a few months after that. So, we were able to achieve the primary reason we wanted the J visa.

Last summer, I finished my PhD and graduated. I'm back in my home country (Canada) doing a postdoc now. I learned a lot about visa and statuses through my grad school years because I volunteered a lot with the international office. So in case anyone sees this old thread and wonders about F-1 vs J-1 and would like to talk to someone who just finished a PhD degree on J-1, send me a PM :)


So, the only difference between F1 and J1 is that the J1 dependents can work in the US? Or your previous post about the personal funds is still valid as well?

TakeruK
Posts: 936
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Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby TakeruK » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:44 pm

nmarquez027 wrote:
TakeruK wrote:The above post appears to be spam, but I just want to come back to this thread after 5.5 years! At my last post, I was just about to start my PhD program on J-1. The reason I chose J-1 status was that my spouse could have J-2 and that allows my spouse to obtain work authorization and find a job in the USA.

Update: After entering the US on J-1 and J-2, my spouse successfully obtained work authorization a few months later and found a job a few months after that. So, we were able to achieve the primary reason we wanted the J visa.

Last summer, I finished my PhD and graduated. I'm back in my home country (Canada) doing a postdoc now. I learned a lot about visa and statuses through my grad school years because I volunteered a lot with the international office. So in case anyone sees this old thread and wonders about F-1 vs J-1 and would like to talk to someone who just finished a PhD degree on J-1, send me a PM :)


So, the only difference between F1 and J1 is that the J1 dependents can work in the US? Or your previous post about the personal funds is still valid as well?


No, that is not the only difference. I cited that difference because it is the main reason we chose J-1. There are actually a lot of differences but most of them are very small. Everything I said above is still true. For your convenience, here are the main differences between J-1 and F-1:

1. F-1 is more common so people you interact with at the DMV, Social Security office, etc. will know what to do with F-1 but they might not know what to do with J-1. J-1s have different forms etc. that have the same function as F-1. This is only going to be an issue in the first year when you get stuff set up, but otherwise not a big deal.

2. F-1 has the option for OPT or CPT, which stands for "Optional Practical Training" and "Curricular Practical Training". Normally F-1 and J-1 students cannot work in the USA outside of their TA/RA-ship or other on-campus employment. OPT and CPT allows some time for students to work in their field of study. OPT is for any work in the field of study and can be taken during or after your degree. CPT is for work in the field of study that is required as part of your degree (e.g. if your program has an internship or work co-op component). OPT is now valid for 36 months for STEM fields so it's possible to do your first postdoc on F-1 OPT instead of getting a new visa status such as J-1 (see #5 and #6 below). For J-1, there is no CPT but there is an equivalent to OPT called AT (Academic Training). It works basically the same except it's a little easier to get approved, apparently.

3. F-1 dependents are F-2s and they cannot go to work or school. J-1 dependents are J-2s and they can apply for employment authorization.

4. Funding requirement as above.

5. Some J-1 status holders are subject to the "2-year home residency requirement". If you are from a country that places your degree of study on a "needed skills" list, or if you receive government funding from the USA or your home country, then you may have this box checked on your DS-2019 (the proof of status for J-1). If so, you may be subject to the 2-year home residency requirement, which basically means that before you are allowed to apply for an USA immigration-class visa/status, you must physically reside in your home country for at least 2 years. An immigration class visa is something like H1-B, O-1, E-1 etc. Although each person's case would be different, this typically means as long as you stay on temporary visas, you will be okay. For example, you can stay for your first postdoc on AT status after graduation. Beyond that, your options depend on what visas you may qualify for. It would not be possible to find a permanent job that grants you PR status / green-card etc. though, you would either have to return home for 2 years or get approved for a waiver of this requirement.

6. All J-1 status holders are subject to the "12-month/24-month bar on repeat participation". There are lots of types of J-1 statuses, from au pairs, camp counselors to students to postdocs to visiting faculty members. For the rules relevant to us, you are not allowed to start a J-1 Research Scholar (i.e. postdoc) if you were on any J status in the past 12 months. And if you were a Research Scholar or Professor, then you cannot start another J-1 Research Scholar or Professor until you have waited 24 months. For students, this means that if you were a J-1 PhD student, then you can do your first postdoc (3 years) on AT status. However, after that, since most postdocs are hired on J-1 status, you cannot start another postdoc or professor position on J-1 for another 12 months. This might mean a second postdoc outside of the USA, or going on some other status. For Canadian and Mexican students (i.e. NAFTA partners), we can go on TN status. For J-1 students without the 2 year home residency requirement, they can seek an immigration class visa and not worry about J-1 again.

7. Note: All of the above restrictions for J-1 also apply to the J-2 dependents. Even if you end up split up from your partner or you re-enter at different times. Each J-1 and J-2 person must independently satisfy the above.

Because most postdoc and postdoc-like positions are hired on J-1, from #5 and #6, you see that these can be pretty important factors to consider. I was subject to both 5 and 6. However, it was very important to my spouse and I that both of us can work and advance our careers. So when we thought about it, we realise that these restrictions come only at the end of the 3-year AT period after our PhD. For a 5-6 year PhD program plus 3 year of AT, the problem of what to do "after" is something that is 8-9 years away! We figured that not working for 8-9 years is very bad and a lot can change in 8-9 years. Personally, we never had intention to stay in USA forever so it's not a big deal to us. Our possible plans were:

- Graduate then return to Canada for the first postdoc (2-3 years). This covers both the 2-year thing and the 12-month bar and gives us the freedom to return to the US for another postdoc or permanent job if we wanted. Or we can just stay in Canada forever.

- Graduate, then do a postdoc anywhere else in the word for at least 1 year. This covers #6 but not #5. However, that does mean we can return to the US for a second postdoc on J status (just not on a permanent status). We could also apply for a waiver to the 2-year thing.

- Graduate, do the first postdoc in the USA on AT (up to 3 years) and then do either of the above two options.

- As a Canadian, we qualified for TN, which can be renewed for quite a long time, so we can just keep doing TN status until we decide to do one of the above.

Anyways, hope that was all helpful. I can discuss things further if you have questions. Just a reminder: I'm only writing about my own experience and that people should seek advice from their school's International Office for more up-to-date and certified information (especially for info specific to their needs). Ultimately, I do think there isn't much reason to choose J-1 over F-1 unless you have a spouse that would like to work while you're in the USA for school.

nmarquez027
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:29 pm

Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby nmarquez027 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:11 pm

TakeruK wrote:
No, that is not the only difference. I cited that difference because it is the main reason we chose J-1. There are actually a lot of differences but most of them are very small. Everything I said above is still true. For your convenience, here are the main differences between J-1 and F-1:

1. F-1 is more common so people you interact with at the DMV, Social Security office, etc. will know what to do with F-1 but they might not know what to do with J-1. J-1s have different forms etc. that have the same function as F-1. This is only going to be an issue in the first year when you get stuff set up, but otherwise not a big deal.

2. F-1 has the option for OPT or CPT, which stands for "Optional Practical Training" and "Curricular Practical Training". Normally F-1 and J-1 students cannot work in the USA outside of their TA/RA-ship or other on-campus employment. OPT and CPT allows some time for students to work in their field of study. OPT is for any work in the field of study and can be taken during or after your degree. CPT is for work in the field of study that is required as part of your degree (e.g. if your program has an internship or work co-op component). OPT is now valid for 36 months for STEM fields so it's possible to do your first postdoc on F-1 OPT instead of getting a new visa status such as J-1 (see #5 and #6 below). For J-1, there is no CPT but there is an equivalent to OPT called AT (Academic Training). It works basically the same except it's a little easier to get approved, apparently.

3. F-1 dependents are F-2s and they cannot go to work or school. J-1 dependents are J-2s and they can apply for employment authorization.

4. Funding requirement as above.

5. Some J-1 status holders are subject to the "2-year home residency requirement". If you are from a country that places your degree of study on a "needed skills" list, or if you receive government funding from the USA or your home country, then you may have this box checked on your DS-2019 (the proof of status for J-1). If so, you may be subject to the 2-year home residency requirement, which basically means that before you are allowed to apply for an USA immigration-class visa/status, you must physically reside in your home country for at least 2 years. An immigration class visa is something like H1-B, O-1, E-1 etc. Although each person's case would be different, this typically means as long as you stay on temporary visas, you will be okay. For example, you can stay for your first postdoc on AT status after graduation. Beyond that, your options depend on what visas you may qualify for. It would not be possible to find a permanent job that grants you PR status / green-card etc. though, you would either have to return home for 2 years or get approved for a waiver of this requirement.

6. All J-1 status holders are subject to the "12-month/24-month bar on repeat participation". There are lots of types of J-1 statuses, from au pairs, camp counselors to students to postdocs to visiting faculty members. For the rules relevant to us, you are not allowed to start a J-1 Research Scholar (i.e. postdoc) if you were on any J status in the past 12 months. And if you were a Research Scholar or Professor, then you cannot start another J-1 Research Scholar or Professor until you have waited 24 months. For students, this means that if you were a J-1 PhD student, then you can do your first postdoc (3 years) on AT status. However, after that, since most postdocs are hired on J-1 status, you cannot start another postdoc or professor position on J-1 for another 12 months. This might mean a second postdoc outside of the USA, or going on some other status. For Canadian and Mexican students (i.e. NAFTA partners), we can go on TN status. For J-1 students without the 2 year home residency requirement, they can seek an immigration class visa and not worry about J-1 again.

7. Note: All of the above restrictions for J-1 also apply to the J-2 dependents. Even if you end up split up from your partner or you re-enter at different times. Each J-1 and J-2 person must independently satisfy the above.

Because most postdoc and postdoc-like positions are hired on J-1, from #5 and #6, you see that these can be pretty important factors to consider. I was subject to both 5 and 6. However, it was very important to my spouse and I that both of us can work and advance our careers. So when we thought about it, we realise that these restrictions come only at the end of the 3-year AT period after our PhD. For a 5-6 year PhD program plus 3 year of AT, the problem of what to do "after" is something that is 8-9 years away! We figured that not working for 8-9 years is very bad and a lot can change in 8-9 years. Personally, we never had intention to stay in USA forever so it's not a big deal to us. Our possible plans were:

- Graduate then return to Canada for the first postdoc (2-3 years). This covers both the 2-year thing and the 12-month bar and gives us the freedom to return to the US for another postdoc or permanent job if we wanted. Or we can just stay in Canada forever.

- Graduate, then do a postdoc anywhere else in the word for at least 1 year. This covers #6 but not #5. However, that does mean we can return to the US for a second postdoc on J status (just not on a permanent status). We could also apply for a waiver to the 2-year thing.

- Graduate, do the first postdoc in the USA on AT (up to 3 years) and then do either of the above two options.

- As a Canadian, we qualified for TN, which can be renewed for quite a long time, so we can just keep doing TN status until we decide to do one of the above.

Anyways, hope that was all helpful. I can discuss things further if you have questions. Just a reminder: I'm only writing about my own experience and that people should seek advice from their school's International Office for more up-to-date and certified information (especially for info specific to their needs). Ultimately, I do think there isn't much reason to choose J-1 over F-1 unless you have a spouse that would like to work while you're in the USA for school.


Thank you very much for this detailed answer! I've read a lot about this topic in different places, and in a lot of them the information they provide is wrong. For example, I remember reading a couple months ago that the 2-year home residency requirement on a J1 visa won't allow you to apply for an F1 until you fulfill this requirement. As you said (and I also confirmed afterwards) this is only the case if you are applying for an immigration class visa like H1-B, O-1, E-1 etc, not for a student visa.

Just to more questions in case you know the answers: does the 2-year home residency requirement actually impose you to go back to your own country? or you could do a postdoc in another country like you mentioned above, and then come back? (I guess in this case there is a slight difference between what is formally required vs. what is usually done). And also, as far as the waiver for the requirement, do you know if the most straightforward procedure for doing so is the "no objection from your country" letter?

TakeruK
Posts: 936
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: J-1 or F-1 visa??

Postby TakeruK » Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:33 pm

nmarquez027 wrote:Thank you very much for this detailed answer! I've read a lot about this topic in different places, and in a lot of them the information they provide is wrong. For example, I remember reading a couple months ago that the 2-year home residency requirement on a J1 visa won't allow you to apply for an F1 until you fulfill this requirement. As you said (and I also confirmed afterwards) this is only the case if you are applying for an immigration class visa like H1-B, O-1, E-1 etc, not for a student visa.

Just to more questions in case you know the answers: does the 2-year home residency requirement actually impose you to go back to your own country? or you could do a postdoc in another country like you mentioned above, and then come back? (I guess in this case there is a slight difference between what is formally required vs. what is usually done). And also, as far as the waiver for the requirement, do you know if the most straightforward procedure for doing so is the "no objection from your country" letter?


For the first thing, I've read many things that say J-1 2-year thing prevents F-1 or TN etc. too. I also confirmed this with my school and they told me that is not true, it is only a restriction against immigration-class visas. However this was how I learned about the 12-month bar!

Yes, the 2-year home residency requirement does require you to go back to your home country (if you are a national of more than one country, then I believe it's the country you claimed residency in when you applied for the J-1 visa) before you can apply for immigration class visas in the USA. You don't have to go back right away---you can go from USA to another 3rd country for your next postdoc etc. (after all, the US Department of State has no authority to require you to go anywhere specific after you leave the US, they can only impose restrictions on how you enter). So, you cannot re-enter the USA on an immigration class visa until you have fulfilled that two years in your home country.

And also yes: I believe the most straight-forward procedure for doing so is the "no objection from your country" route. I was in discussions with my school's international office about doing this near the end of my PhD since I wasn't sure what was next and wanted to be prepared. They said that for my case, i.e. not being on a "skills" list for Canada and the requirement coming from the fact that I received Canadian government funds to study in the USA, it is going to be a straight-forward, but lengthy process to get this "no objection" letter. However, the advisor did say to me that they believe it is much harder to get the "no objection" letter if the reason for the 2-year requirement is that you are on your home country's "skills list". After all, if they had no objection, they wouldn't put your skill on the list to begin with.

The reason for both of these answers is the fact that J-1 was designed as an "exchange" program, but not necessarily like a college exchange program as in the discussion above. This is why the J-1 program is administered by the US Department of State, not the US Department of Homeland Security. This is one of the small differences I didn't mention above. But basically, the point of the J-1 program is for the mutual benefit of both countries. The USA will accept international students, train them with the intention of them returning home for some time to provide benefit to their home country. In exchange, the USA gets students and scholars (remember, J-1 exists for faculty and postdocs too) from other countries to come and teach at their schools, train their students, etc.




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