J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Overview

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) is a diplomacy initiative administered by the United States government. The intent and purpose of the EVP is to exchange persons and ideas and to build mutual understanding among peoples and cultures. The purpose of the J-1 program is to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return to their home countries to share their experiences.

There are four principal parties interacting in the EVP process:

  • The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), a designated sponsor of the EVP;
  • Exchange visitors, who have been selected by an MUSC department to participate in a particular program/activity;
  • The US Department of State (DOS), which issues J visas to exchange visitors and their dependents and oversees the Exchange Visitor Program; and
  • The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which manages the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), admits foreign nationals to the US in J status, and adjudicates certain immigration benefits for exchange visitors and their dependents.

The J-1 Classification

The J-1 classification (and associated J-1 visa) is a temporary, nonimmigrant classification. The J-1 classification includes multiple different program categories for a wide-range of program purposes.

The J-1 classification requires sponsorship from a designated EVP program sponsor and participation in specific program activities on a full-time basis in the US. In addition, J-1 applicants must demonstrate strong ties to their home country and a clear intent to return to their home country upon completion of the J-1 program.

J‐1 is not an employment-based visa status. However, exchange visitors may be temporarily employed by MUSC as long as the purpose of the temporary employment is to facilitate the specific J-1 program activities.

Basic Exchange Visitor Eligibility Requirements