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International Visitor Program

Program Categories and Time Limitations

The US Forest Service is a sponsor for J-1 participants the following categories. Each category has its own acceptable activities and time limitations.

Click on one of the categories below to learn more.

Click here to learn more about Other J-1 Exchange Visitor Categories.

Click here to learn more about the different time limitations.

J-1 Visas Chart
J-1 Visas at a Glance
Program Categories
Program Requirements
Time Limitation
Program Authorities
B-1 Visas

Category

Minimum Duration of Stay

Maximum Duration of Stay

Other

Government Visitor

None

18 months

 

Research Scholar

3 weeks

5 years

Subject to 12-month and 24-month bars (see below)

Short-Term Scholar

None

6 months

No Extensions.

Specialist

3 weeks

1 year

No Extensions.

Trainee

None

18 Months

No Extensions. Subject to the 24-month bar.

Intern

None

1 year

No Extensions.

 

Government Visitor is defined as: Participants in this category include professionals, government officials, business persons, scientists and graduate students. According to the US Department of State, the objective of this category is to develop and strengthen professional and personal ties between key foreign nationals and Americans and American institutions. Selected foreign nationals, recognized as influential or distinguished persons and who are selected by US federal, state, or local government agencies, participate in observation tours, discussions, consultations, professional meetings, conferences, workshops, and travel. These people-to-people programs enable government visitors to better understand American culture and society, and to contribute to American knowledge of foreign cultures.  The Forest Service hosts foreign government  officials, key leaders and individuals who may be influential in international policy development, the protection and sustainable use of natural resources, and other issues related to the work of governments and private industry as related to natural resource management, disaster preparedness and response and international trade.


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Research Scholar is defined as: An individual primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project at research institutions, corporate research facilities, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions, or similar types of institutions. The research scholar may also teach or lecture at the primary site of activity, unless disallowed by the sponsor.  Permission for occasional lectures at other sites must be requested in writing and approved by the Responsible Officer.  The US Forest Service hosts research scholars involved in cooperative research in the field and at Forest Service research facilities.

  • May participate in programs of up to 5 years to engage in research and/or teaching
  • May NOT hold or be candidates for tenure at an academic institution
  • May NOT receive a DS-2019 if they have been in the US for 6 months or more in any other J Status during the immediately preceding 12 months (this does not apply to short-term scholar category) or if they have been in the Professor or Research Scholar program status for any part of the 24 months preceding the new program date.
  • May change categories between research scholar and professor if transferring to another program as a professor within the maximum 5-year program limit.
  • May engage in occasional outside lectures or consultation for compensation with written permission from the Responsible Officer


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Short-Term Scholar is usually defined as:A professor, research scholar, graduate student or person with similar education or accomplishments who visits the United States to lecture, observe, consult, train, or demonstrate special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions, or similar institutions. The program is limited to 6 months without possibility for extensions.  Participants are not subject to the 12- or 24-month bars.  Many Forest Service exchanges fall into this category as they involve research or participation in educational activities for a period of less than 6 months.

  • May participate in programs of up to 6 months to lecture, observe, consult and participate in seminars, workshops, conferences, or other similar types of educational or professional activities.
  • Have no minimum length of stay
  • May NOT extend their stay beyond 6 months
  • Are exempt from the 12- and 24-month bars for professors and research scholars


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Specialist is usually defined as:An expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill, who comes to the United States to observe, consult, or demonstrate special skills (professors, research scholars, short-term scholars and alien physicians are excluded from this category).  The purpose of the specialist category is to facilitate exchange among experts at scientific institutions, government agencies, museums and similar types of institutions.  Some examples of fields represented include mass media communication, environmental science, youth leadership, international educational exchange, museum exhibitions, labor law, public administration and library science.   In the case of Forest Service, Specialists may be invited to exchange ideas, consult or observe practices in the US related to one of the many specialized skills or disciplines practiced in and essential to the effective management of natural resources and disaster preparedness and response.

  • May participate in programs of up to 12 months
  • May not fill a permanent or long-term position of employment while in the US
  • May NOT extend their stay beyond 1 year
  • Are exempt from the 12- and 24-month bars

 


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A Trainee is usually defined as: A professional with a degree or professional certificate from a foreign post-secondary academic institution and at least one year of prior related work experience in his or her occupational field outside the United States; or a person who has at least five years of work experience outside the US in their  academic or occupational fields in which they are seeking training. The purpose of the Trainee category is to enhance the skills and expertise of exchange visitors in their academic or occupational fields through a structured and guided training program outlined on Form DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan (T/IPP).

  • May participate in programs of up to 18 months
  • Must agree to the training plan established in cooperation with the host on the Form DS-7002
  • Must participate in a full-time training program (at least 32 hours per  week)
  • Must complete program mid-point progress reports and evaluations for programs exceeding 6 months.
  • Must engage in training that DOES NOT duplicate prior work experience or training.
  • Must NOT work in unskilled or casual labor positions that involve childcare, eldercare or any patient care.
  • Must NOT work in positions that require more than 20% clerical or office support work.
  • Must NOT fill positions that would otherwise be filled by part-time or full-time employees.

An Intern is usually defined as: A student who is currently enrolled in and pursuing studies at a foreign degree- or certificate-granting post-secondary academic institution outside the US; or a person who has graduated from such an institution no more than 12 months prior to their exchange visitor program start date. The purpose of the Internship program is to allow students and recent graduates to gain exposure to U.S. culture and receive hands-on experience in U.S. business practices in their chosen occupational field to bridge the gap between formal education and practical work experience. The internship training and experience gained is primarily entry-level and obtained through structured and guided activities such as classroom training, seminars, rotations through departments, on-the-job training, and participation in conferences, workshops and other similar learning activities. The internship program must be outlined on the Form DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan (T/IPP).

  • May participate in programs of up to 12 months
  • Must agree to the training plan established in cooperation with the host on the Form DS-7002
  • Must engage in training that DOES NOT duplicate prior work experience or training.
  • Must complete program mid-point progress reports and evaluations for programs exceeding 6 months.
  • Must NOT work in unskilled or casual labor positions that involve childcare, eldercare or any patient care.
  • Must NOT work in positions that require more than 20% clerical or office support work.
  • Must NOT fill positions that would otherwise be filled by part-time or full-time employees.

 

Other J-1 Exchange Visitor Categories

There are other categories of exchange visitors sponsored by other organizations and employers. These include academic programs for students, short-term work and travel programs, and teacher exchange programs. The US Forest Service International Programs Office is a designated sponsor of programs listed above, but does not have authority to sponsor or issue DS-2019s for exchange visitors in any other exchange visitor program categories. 

Other Opportunities
Students currently in the US on an F-1 or J-1 student visa may be eligible for periods of curricular, optional or academic training with the US Forest Service and our partners. Additionally, the US Forest Service partners directly with a number of agencies, academic institutions and non-profit organizations that  host visitors under USFS J-1 sponsorship.  Please contact an IVP Specialist to discuss your specific program interests.

For more information on the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, go to:

12-month Bar (previous participation as a J-1 Exchange Visitor)

To be eligible for a J-1 program in the Professor or Research Scholar category, participants CANNOT be in the United States in another J-visa program category for any part of the 12-month period preceding the start date of the program as indicated on the Form DS-2019. Exceptions: The 12-month bar can be waived if the participant 1) was present in the United States less than 6 months during that period; or 2) participated in the Short-Term Scholar category. 

24-month Bar (previous participation as a Professor or Research Scholar)

To be eligible for a J-1 program in the Professor, Research Scholar or Trainee categories, participants CANNOT be in the United States as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar Program participant for any part of the 24-month period preceding the start date of the program as indicated on the Form DS-2019. There are no exceptions to this rule.

30-Day Grace Period

Program duration times are limited to dates on the DS-2019, not to exceed the maximum program periods described above. However, Exchange Visitors may enter the USA up to 30 days before the official program start date and exit the USA up to 30 days after the official end date. During these 30-day grace periods, the visitor may travel or prepare for departure. However, it is not permissible to engage in any official duties or employment during these 30-day grace periods.

 


> If you have any questions, please contact:

  • Brenda Dean , International Visitor Program Coordinator, Responsible Officer, (202) 644-4640, bdean@fs.fed.us
  • Rima Eid, International Visitor Program Specialist, Alternate Responsible Officer, (202)644-4642, rimaeid@fs.fed.us
  • Kristin Corcoran, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4643, kacorcoran@fs.fed.us
  • Misty Sidhu, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4645, mksidhu@fs.fed.us
  • Lee Blaser, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4631, leeablaser@fs.fed.us
> Click here and read about latest activities and news of the International Visitor Program.


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