Living in a new country is an incredibly enriching experience for many. Passing through a place is nice, but spending months there will give you real insight into the local culture, people, and geography. That’s why thousands of young professionals across the globe opt to spend a year in the U.S. completing an Exchange Visitor Program with a J-1 visa work permit.
Through this program, J-1 visa holders have the opportunity to grow their academic and/or occupational skill set, while simultaneously participating in cultural exchange with local peers, coworkers, and friends.
While this all sounds like a dream, you may be wondering about the practical end of things: How do participants afford this program? Can EVP participants work? What do J-1 visa working hours look like? Below, we’ll provide some insight into how the financials happen, first by answering the question: can J-1 visa holders work?
Can J-1 Visa Holders Work?
The short answer: Sometimes.
The long answer: The Exchange Visitor program is a non-immigration cultural exchange that allows students and young professionals to live in the U.S. for 12-18 months. During this time, the participants may fill one of a variety of roles. Many of these roles are paid, meaning that J-1 visa holders will be completing work during their EVP. However, the J-1 visa does not allow participants to complete ordinary employment outside of their program during their stay.
In other words, your J-1 visa work permit restrictions will depend on the program you designed in your DS-2019 before arriving in the U.S.
So, what does J-1 visa working look like? Essentially, as a working J-1 visa holder you will receive pay comparable to your local U.S. counterparts. Your compensation will line up with all local, state, and federal labor regulations.
Additionally, if you do receive compensation, you will need to apply for a social security number. You will use this number to file taxes during your time in the U.S.
J-1 Visa Holders and Taxes
Taxes can be hard for anyone–including lifelong residents of the United States–to navigate. Because of this, we created a guide to J-1 visa tax exemptions and tax treaties to help you. Feel free to follow that link and read through the in-depth guide, or stick around for some quick tax tips.
- If you have “substantial presence” in the U.S. during your program, then you will need to pay taxes. Substantial presence is equivalent to 183 days of physical presence in the U.S. However, you will need to be specific in your count because not every day of physical presence must be included. For example, a day you spent in the U.S. due to a layover or health problem does not count toward substantial presence.
- If you are in the U.S. under a J-1 visa as a teacher, trainee, or student, then you are considered an exempt individual and will not need to pay taxes during your stay. However, if you are visiting the U.S. under a J-1 visa for a second, third, or fourth time, you may no longer be exempt.
- If you hold citizenship in a country that has a tax treaty with the United States, you may not have to pay taxes here. For example, residents of India and China are entitled to certain tax waivers depending on what role they are fulfilling in the U.S.
The bottomline is that J-1 visa employment and tax requirements depend on the specifics of each individuals’ Exchange Visitor Program. If you ever experience confusion about what work you are allowed to complete within the U.S. while still maintaining your EVP status, you can always reach out to your sponsor.
If you choose Global Internships to sponsor you (that’s us!), our friendly staff will be more than ready to answer any and all of your J-1 visa work permit questions.
J-1 Visa Categories and Pay Expectations
Now that you know the basics about J-1 visa work permit restrictions, let’s discuss earnings.
Please note that the Exchange Visitor J-1 visa includes 14 categories:
- Au pair and EduCare
- Camp Counselor
- Government Visitor
- International Visitor (for the Department of State)
- Professor and Research Scholar
- Short-term Scholar
- Student, college/university
- Student, secondary
- Summer Work Travel
Depending on your situation, you may need to think carefully about which J-1 visa job you choose. The role you fill while abroad will determine the amount you are eligible to earn. For example, an alien physician will likely receive more compensation than a camp counselor. If you are interested in specifics, we will explore pay expectations for a few of these roles below.
Some sites list USD $195 as the baseline that au pairs must get paid per week for watching children for up to 45 hours weekly. This number was calculated by multiplying the U.S. $7.25 minimum wage by 45 and then, subtracting 40% of the total for room and board. However, there is no official amount that legislation requires au pair stipends to meet. Instead, according to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), au pairs must be “paid in conformance with the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act as interpreted and implemented by the United States Department of Labor.” This means that stipends au pairs receive will be in line with U.S. labor policies but may differ based on location and placement. Au pairs will also receive money towards academic courses (up to USD $500).
Pay guidelines for EVP camp counselors are general according to the CFR. The document simply explains that these workers should receive compensation comparable to their local counterparts. So how much do camp counselors make in the U.S.? According to ziprecruiter, summer camp counselors make USD $10/hr on average. However, the hourly pay breakdown will depend on whether the position is overnight or not as well as location. Additionally, many counselors also receive housing and meals through the camp they work for.
Summer Work Travel
Summer work travelers may remain in the U.S. for up to four months. During this time, participants will complete jobs that are either seasonal or temporary. They will be paid according to federal, state, and local minimum wage requirements. This includes overtime. Minimum wage in the U.S. is currently USD $7.25 per hour. However, this may increase by state. For example, the minimum wage in California for employers with 26 employees or more is USD $14.00 per hour. Employers of summer work travelers must pay participants and provide them with benefits in line with those U.S. workers in similar positions receive.
Hiring J-1 Visa Students
So far, we’ve covered work permits for individuals including au pairs, camp counselors, and summer work travelers, but what about students?
J-1 visa students complete exchange programs in the U.S. If a student is in the country to obtain their full degree, then they will enter under an F or M visa. Exchange students receive J-1 visas because they will only be completing a portion of their degree at a U.S.-based institution.
Can J-1 Visa Holders Work Part Time?
Are you wondering: can J-1 visa work part time as a student? We’ll explain the answer.
During the exchange period, J-1 visa students’ primary focus will be their studies. However, they will also be eligible to work part time. In a guide for J-1 Exchange Visitor Students, Oklahoma State University explains that these individuals are eligible to work when they:
- Are maintaining their visa status
- Are studying full time
- Are in good academic standing
They also must receive approval from the relevant parties, including their J-1 visa officer and program sponsor. After obtaining permission to work, J-1 visa-holding students may seek student employment OR academic training.
Student employment includes on-campus jobs that are both related or unrelated to the individual’s field of study. J-1 visa holders can work up to 20 hours a week at these jobs during the school year. During school breaks and vacation periods, hours can increase to full-time, so long as the student will return to classes when they are back in session.
In specific, urgent cases, J-1 visa students may seek employment off-campus. This is only possible when the student is facing emergency unforeseen circumstances and cannot find work on campus.
The other form of employment J-1 visa holders may choose is called academic training. Students who go this route may work for a U.S.-based employer in their field of study up to 20 hours per week during the term and full time on breaks. In some cases, these students may pause their studies to complete academic training. For example, they might receive an offer of employment before graduation and adjust their DS-2019 to include this extended “academic training” stay.
If you plan to visit the U.S. as a J-1 student, talk to your program sponsor and academic institution. They will be able to answer questions specific to your situation.
J-2 Visa Holders
Now that you understand how the J-1 visa allows EVP participants to work and earn money in the U.S, let’s discuss J-2 visa holders.
J-2 visas are held by spouses and children of J-1 visa holders. These individuals can reside in the U.S. for as long as the primary J-1 visa holder is approved to do so.
For example, if a young professional named Raúl travels to the U.S. as a J-1 visa trainee, his spouse and two minor children may come with him. They will simply have to apply for J-2 visas. At Global Internships, we guide our clients through the process of securing their family members the correct travel documentation.
While Raúl is completing his training program, his family won’t be sitting at home. His children will be attending school and his spouse will be working.
In order to attend school, Raúl will not need to get his two children special documentation. While other people who travel to the United States as students need to obtain F visas, this is unnecessary for minor J-2 holders, who may attend school for the duration of their parent’s program.
Applying for J-2 Visa Work Permits
While Raúl’s spouse is able to work, they will need to obtain a work permit, and they must not use the money they earn to support Raúl, the J-1 visa holder. This document is called an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-765). You can obtain it through the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Curious about what information you’ll need to include on this document? We’ve got you covered.
On the Form I-765 itself, you will fill out information like:
- Your reason for applying
- Your personal information (name, address, birth location, etc.)
- Your last arrival in the U.S.
- Your eligibility category
- Your signature
Instructions explain that, along with Form I-765, you will need to include:
- A copy of your form DS-2019
- Evidence that the J-1 holder is maintaining their status
- Evidence that the income you earn in the U.S. will not support your J-1 spouse
- Evidence that you are maintaining your status as a J-2 holder
- Evidence of you previously authorized J-2 employment periods
Once you’ve completed the form, what do you do with it? As a J-2 spouse or minor dependent, you will need to mail your form to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) facility in Dallas or Phoenix. Look at the table below (or go to this link) to determine which location you must send your application to.
Work Permit Application Destinations
State of Stay
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- the Northern Mariana Islands
USCIS Location Address
Deliver to a USCIS Phoenix Lockbox:
If delivering through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
If delivering through FedEx, UPS, and DHL:
Attn: NFB AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
State of Stay
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- U.S. Virgin Islands
- West Virginia
USCIS Location Address
Deliver to a USCIS Dallas Lockbox:
If delivering through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
If delivering through FedEx, UPS, and DHL:
Attn: NFB AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
Please note that there is an application fee for form I-765. It is USD $410. In some circumstances applicants may need to pay an additional USD $85 for biometric services. There are many methods accepted for covering these fees, including:
- Money order
- Credit card
Once you receive approval, you will be able to begin working in the United States as a J-2 holder.
We are transparent in our service costs. While prices for working with us vary based on your destination and current location, you can expect fees ranging from $2000-3000 USD. With our custom Pricing Calculator tool, you can receive a more specific estimate of program costs.
For example, if you reside in Chile and plan to complete an Exchange Visitor Program with a duration of 12 months in the U.S, then you can expect to pay Intrax Global Internships around USD $2275. If you reside in India and also plan to complete a 12 month program, you can expect to pay us around USD $3800. If you reside in New Zealand and plan to complete a 15 month-long training program, you will likely need to pay us USD $3200. If you do not fit into any of these examples, then go to our pricing tool to generate your own custom estimation.
Once you find your estimate, you may be wondering what all this money covers. A lot!
At Global Internships, we are committed to providing enriching services to international learners. Sponsors are responsible for many duties, including:
- Screening and selecting participants
- Matching participants with host companies
- Preparing participants for their placement
- Checking in with participants throughout their program
- Guiding participants through securing proper documents
Wondering why you can’t do all of the above yourself? Many reasons, but we’ll focus on documentation here. At Global Internships, we have developed expertise in J-1 visa applications over decades. Gathering all necessary J-1 visa documents can be difficult without this expertise, in part because the list of necessary materials is long. It includes the:
- DS-2019 application
- DS-7002 internship or training placement plan
- English competency results
- Proof of enrollment or diploma
- DS-160 online application
- Personal photo
You have enough to worry about without keeping track of this long list of documents. When you work with us as your sponsor, we will guide you through the process so that everything is in order. No careless mistakes will happen on our watch.
Beyond guiding you through the full J-1 visa application process, we also guarantee that our J-1 visa sponsorship services will be:
- And reliable
Even More J-1 Visa Opportunities
Now that you know the details of J-1 visa working, hours, and restrictions, as well as understand how to stay financially secure during an Exchange Visitor Program, we hope you feel motivated to plan your own stay. We can help you find your ideal host company and guide you through the application process.
If you found this article helpful, we encourage you to visit globablinternships.com. The J-1 visa opportunities are nearly endless and we regularly write about them there. Get all your questions answered in one spot!