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Can a J1 visa holder work for a non-sponsor employer?

As per the USCIS regulations, the J1-visa holder can work only for the sponsor employer. However, in some cases, if the individual meets the eligibility criteria for the category for which they are applying, then they are allowed to work for a non-sponsor employer.

Research scholars in the J-1 category can work for non-sponsor employers in a closely related research program. This can be done for a period of six months and requires a written approval from the original sponsor. When this is done, the J-1 holder can lecture and consult at institutions that are not listed in the IAP-66.

J-1 students, when they meet the following conditions, are eligible for employment:

  • On-campus employment is available for students who have pursued scholarship, fellowship or assistantship.
  • Off-campus employment is allowed for students as a part of summer work/travel exchange program.
  • Work will also be allotted at times when there is a serious economic situation during the J-1 status.
  • Only students with good academic standing are eligible for employment. These students must continue in a full course of study and must be approved by a school officer.
  • 20 hours of employment must not be exceeded, during school breaks and vacation.

College students or graduate students are eligible for a practical training program. This extends up to 18 months for master’s and bachelor’s students and 36 months for doctoral students. There is no need for approval from the DOS or the USCIS for a practical training program. Students who are applying for a practical training program must submit an approval letter from an exchange program officer, passport, completed IAP-66, and I-94 forms.

Contact our office today to speak with a lawyer to learn more about your options and to begin the visa application process.

Updated on January 15, 2020

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