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On the paperwork I received from the university, it seems they generally issue F-1 visas, but if I'd prefer I can tick a box and have a J-1instead. The only major difference I've found is that J dependents can work while F dependents can't, but that's not an issue for me.

Are there any other reasons to go for the J over the F?

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I've received the same form and can choose between a F-1 and J-1 visa. Since I don't have a spouse, I'm going to choose the F-1 visa. As far as I know, the J-1 visa has a requirement that you return to your home country (=it's not enough that you leave the US and go to another country, you have to return to your home country) for two years. I hear that this restriction isn't always enforced, for example if you receive Fulbright funding then it is always enforced but if your school funds you then sometimes not. However, I haven't been able to find a clear definition of when this restriction is enforced, so I've decided not to take the chance. Being forced to go back home for two years after my PhD/post might damage my career, and I'd like to avoid causing myself any unneeded difficulty in the future.

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I've received the same form and can choose between a F-1 and J-1 visa. Since I don't have a spouse, I'm going to choose the F-1 visa. As far as I know, the J-1 visa has a requirement that you return to your home country (=it's not enough that you leave the US and go to another country, you have to return to your home country) for two years. I hear that this restriction isn't always enforced, for example if you receive Fulbright funding then it is always enforced but if your school funds you then sometimes not. However, I haven't been able to find a clear definition of when this restriction is enforced, so I've decided not to take the chance. Being forced to go back home for two years after my PhD/post might damage my career, and I'd like to avoid causing myself any unneeded difficulty in the future.

I face this dilemma. I will have a dependent accompanying me and I'm on a meager stipend but some people tell me that the F1 is always the safer choice in terms of probability of getting it issued. I have no idea about the J1 rules. I'd be hugely benefited if somebody could point me in the right direction for expert advice on this matter as if I can go on a J1, life will be so much better for the both of us as its important that she has something worthwhile to do as well and also gets to be a little independent. I'm sure it will do us a world of good. So far, nobody I've asked for advice has had a very good idea about these J1 'return to home country' rules.

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I think I can help with that.

A person is subject to home residency requirement if ANY of these applies

1)The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the United States government or the government of the exchange visitor's nationality or last residence;

2)The exchange visitor is a national or resident of a country designated as requiring the services of persons engaged in the field of specialized knowledge or skills in which the exchange visitor was engaged for the duration of their program (download list here - http://exchanges.state.gov/jexchanges/d ... s_list.pdf)

3)The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training.

However you can apply for a waiver of this requirement. A waiver may be requested for five statutory bases

1) a claim of Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child of an exchange visitor if the exchange visitor is required to return to the country of residence;

2) a claim that the participant will be persecuted due to race, religion, or political opinions if he/she returns to the country of residence;

3) a request from an interested US Government Agency on the participant's behalf;

4) a No Objection Statement from your government;

5) a request by a designated State Health Department or its equivalent.

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P.S.

As for me, I am subject to the requirement, but I anyway am applying for j1, because i am coming with my wife. I think it's really hard for anybody to sit at home for a long time.

About the procedure of actually getting the visa - i heard (and i am sure) that it is almost the same as F1.

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Thanks, eldar. Where did you get this information from? Is there some official US government site that I can read this on? I'm sorry to be a bit thick about this, but I want to make sure: I will receive my fellowship from the department, but obviously part of its income comes from NSF grants and the likes. Does that mean that I will be "indirectly funded" by the US government or does that not count? I would assume that practically every reputable department in my field has some faculty member who is/has received a NSF grant that's at least partly used to fund grad students.

As for me, I am subject to the requirement, but I anyway am applying for j1, because i am coming with my wife. I think it's really hard for anybody to sit at home for a long time.

This. I think that if one spouse has to sit at home for several years without the possibility of doing anything, that's likely to put a strain on even the best of marriages. I have to say that in that case it would make more sense to take the J-1, and not make my SO be the only one to sacrifice, particularly not for a long, frustrating period of time. For me, though, since I don't plan on getting married any time soon, I'm not sure I can find any real advantage for the J-1 over the F-1. It's too much for me to worry about a potential future spouse right now.. Is there any other advantage to either visa over the other that I am missing?

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you can read some information here - http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1267.html

and here - http://exchanges.state.gov/jexchanges/v ... ivers.html

But best thing to do is to call international office at your university. As for myself, I will receive a fellowship, but as it is from Institution, i am not subject to this article. unfotunately, i am to another article - my speciality is in skills list for my country. So, I probably will have problems after phd with 2yhrr, but it will be only in 5 or 6 years.

I would suggest you to get F1 now. When you get married, i think you can change your status, if your wife will have much time to spend in US without a job. But you should clear this things in your international office too.

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I think the conditions where you get the "two year" rule exist so that people who get their training paid for with the intention that it will benefit their country actually do repay that investment.

Another difference: $20 US SEVIS fee.

I figure that if F-1 is the default, and I don't have any particular reason for wanting the J, I'll probably go for the F.

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I think I can help with that.

A person is subject to home residency requirement if ANY of these applies

1)The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the United States government or the government of the exchange visitor's nationality or last residence;

2)The exchange visitor is a national or resident of a country designated as requiring the services of persons engaged in the field of specialized knowledge or skills in which the exchange visitor was engaged for the duration of their program (download list here - http://exchanges.state.gov/jexchanges/d ... s_list.pdf)

3)The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training.

So what if none of the above applies? Can I then go ahead and get the J1 visa and not worry about the home residency requirement? Point no. 1) however is tricky. Some of my funding comes from a professor's grants and I suspect some of those grants come from the defense offices (of Canada and possibly the US). I'll contact the international office with this question..

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