The primary goals of the Exchange Visitor Program are to allow participants the opportunity to engage broadly with Americans, share their culture, strengthen their English language abilities, and learn new skills or build skills that will help them in future careers. There are fifteen different categories of participants under the J-1 visa program, of which, thirteen categories include privately-funded programs that are implemented under the auspices of the Office of Private Sector Exchange in the Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The State Department designates more than 1,500 for-profit, non-profit, or federal, state, and local government entities to conduct such private sector programs. Exchange visitors on private sector programs may study, teach, do research, share their specialized skills, or receive on-the-job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years. In addition to the thirteen private sector exchange categories, the J-1 visa program also includes two categories that are publicly funded: International Visitors and Government Visitors.


Participants are young leaders eager to hone their skills, strengthen their English language abilities, connect with Americans, and learn more about the United States. Most individuals choosing to come to the United States on a J-1 visa exchange program are funded privately. J-1 visa exchanges include a cultural component that gives participants the opportunity to engage more broadly with Americans and share their own cultures with their U.S. host communities. They return home eager to stay connected, to expand their networks, and to explore future exchange opportunities as “citizen ambassadors.”

Find out more about the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program at, which also hosts the Route J-1 blog where participants share their experiences.