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The H1B vs J1 - A Comparative Study
May 10, 2022
4 mins
A document with the text VISA surrounded by a wavy American flag with red and white stripes and stars

Here is a gist of what you will find in this article:

  • Introduction to H1B and J1 visas
  • A comparison chart
  • Concluding thoughts

The H1B and J-1 visas are aimed at allowing non-immigrants to live and work in the US temporarily. There are a lot of differences between the two visa categories, the most important being that the J-1 is program-based and offers a limited list of qualifying occupations. The H1B, on the other hand, works under employer sponsorship and has a larger list of qualifying jobs.

Comparing both visas is even more crucial if you are planning on transitioning from J1 and H1B Visa.

Let's take a closer look at the similarities and differences between the two visas.

The H1B and The J1 Visas - Definitions and Differences

The H1B
The H1B is a nonimmigrant visa that allows companies to temporarily hire foreign workers for specialty occupations in IT, engineering, mathematics, medicine, accounting, finance, architecture, and similar fields that need a bachelor's degree or higher qualification. The H1B is valid for an initial period of three years, after which it can be extended for a further three years, or more if the applicant has a pending petition for their green card approval. With the H1B status, the primary applicant can bring their dependents to the US on the H4 status.

The J1 Visa

The J-1 visa is a visa for nonimmigrants who wish to come as exchange visitors to the US. It is issued by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Department of State, for the purpose of cultural and educational programs. With this visa, the holder can take part in pre-approved programs as a teacher, lecturer or instructor, researcher, student, observer, specialist, trainee, consulting expert, or someone receiving graduate training or education in medicine. The spouse and minor children of a J-1 visa holder can come to the US on a J2 visa.

The validity period of the J-1 visa status allowed is dependent on the Visitor Exchange Program that the visa has been approved for. Some of the common ones are:

  • Student at Secondary School: a minimum of one academic term and a maximum of two academic terms
  • Physician: Seven years, unless proof of dire need can be provided
  • Research Scholar and Professor: three weeks to five years validity
  • Short-term Scholar: one day to six months validity

Also read: The Complete Guide to Change of Status for H1B Visa

J1 to H1B Status Visas: a Comparison Chart

Here is a comparison chart detailing the similarities and differences in the H1B and J1 visas in more detail:

H1B J1
Intended for
  • Specialty employment
  • Research experts and limited-period visitors
  • Temporary scholars
  • Temporary visitors
Requirement of job
  • Job offer is necessary - the employer
    has to initiate and proceed with the application
  • Job offer is not a must to apply for this visa.
Validity
  • Can be extended for 3 years
  • Maximum term allowed: 6 years
  • Depends on the J-1 Category
  • Maximum term allowed: 5 years
  • Short-term scholars get six months.
Funding Sources
  • Guarantee of competitive pay rates
  • Will allow both domestic or foreign funding
  • Self-funding is often allowed
  • Flexible sources are also accepted,
    if they change periodically
Possibility of opportunity to find
employment or consultation,or lecture rights with other employers
  • Not allowed until a new H-1B is filed
  • Receiving an honorarium is not allowed
  • Is expected to promote ongoing research
  • Allowed to accept an honorarium and/or payment
Family--Possibility of Work
  • H-4 spouses can work after receiving
    a work authorization permit
  • H-4 parents and children cannot work in the US
  • Dependent on the J2 visa can look for employment
Maximum grace period allowed on visa expiry
  • None
  • Thirty days
Future prospects
  • Possibility of applying for green card
    only if holder has advanced beyond training probation or training periods
  • Visa holder may have to complete a
    two-year home residency (the U.S. government usually gives the J1 a waiver)
  • If the holder has shown nonimmigrant
    intent (no green card while in J-1 status)
Educational Qualifications
  • Minimum degrees like BA/BS required
  • Qualification must match job specialization
  • Degree equivalents are not accepted -
    candidate will need a BS/BA degree
  • Visa holders who are undergraduate
    students enrolled abroad maybe eligible
    to be J-1 Student Intern
Work Qualification
  • Job must be a certified Specialty Occupation
  • Academic research is a must
Possibility of transfer of sponsor
  • This will require a new H application
  • H1B Portability is a new option that
    allows new employment to begin before new H is approved.
  • Sponsor transfer for similar activity can
    be effected if within 5-year limit.
Home residency requirement
  • H1B vs J1 residency of two years:
  • May be mandated in some cases
  • J1 vs H1B residency: residency not required since it is not applicable
Length of lead time (the time between submission and final decision)
  • between four to six months in new H-1 applications
  • between two to three months if opted for premium processing.
  • between two to three months.
Processing Times for COS
(from within the U.S.)
  • Between a few weeks to a few months
  • Between six to twelve months
Extension Processing Times
  • 4 to 7 months
  • No more than a few weeks
Time taken to process transfer
(Regular Procedure)
  • between one to four months
  • A minimum of 2 weeks
Fees associated
  • Registration $10
  • Filing fee $460
  • Fee of Public Law 114-113 $4000
  • The anti-fraud fee $500
  • Premium Processing $2,500 - optional
  • ACWIA Education and Training Fee -$750
    if company has less than 25 employees and
    $1500 if there are more than 25 employees
  • The SEVIS fee of $220
  • Processing Fee - $160
Possibility for becoming immigrants
  • H-1 has the option to apply dual-intent
    and petition for their green card
  • None

H1B to J1 Comparison: the Conclusion

The table above clearly shows the differences between H1B and the J1 visas. With all the information laid out, you can decide on the best option for you. Visit Techfetch H1B for more information about starting your H1B visa journey in the US.

**Disclaimer: All H1B processes are subject to change. Please refer to the USCIS' official website for the latest updates.

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