J-1 Exchange Visitors and J-2 Dependents
J-1 exchange visitors are present in the U.S. under the auspices of various programs sanctioned by the State Department. If authorized to intern or work, they will have a currently valid Form DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility and written permission from a Responsible Officer affiliated with the 'sponsor' institution that is conducting the particular exchange program. A J-2 dependent of a J-1 is eligible to work if in possession of a valid Employment Authorization Document. There are few J-1 exchange programs remaining in the arts, with the exception of universities, that can use these programs in conjunction with cultural exchanges, residencies and the like. International Arts & Artists' Internship in the USA is a sponsor institution for the J-1 trainee, intern, and short-term scholar visa categories. It is essential that the J exchange visitor be in possession of a currently endorsed DS-2019.
A May 2018 USCIS Policy Memorandum states that, effective August 9, 2018, if any student in F, M, or J status who was admitted to the U.S. for "Duration of Status" ("D/S") and files a petition for a different visa (such as an O or P), USCIS adjudicators are to investigate thoroughly whether or not the student is or ever was a “status violator” or has an “overstay” on record. This new policy means students should expect far more attention to be paid to possible infringements. Be absolutely certain not to engage in any work (paid or unpaid) that is not expressly permitted by current visa status, and to take care not to remain in the U.S. past the period of authorized study or activity. If filing for a change of status, petitioners should do so far enough in advance so that in event of a denial, the J visitor will not risk overstaying.