The J-1 visa, also known as the Exchange Visitor or J student visa, is for anyone outside of the U.S. who wishes to partake in study or work-related exchange programs approved by the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Generally, the J-1 student visa holder is sponsored by an educational or nonprofit institution. Applicants are allowed to stay in the United States for the length of time specified in the program in which they participate, but generally not to exceed 18 months. A spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21 can be issued a J-2 visa, and the spouse can work with a work permit.
The J-1 visa has 15 categories of eligible roles or program types: au pair, camp counselor, college and university student, secondary school student, government visitor, international visitor, physician, professor, research scholar, short-term scholar, specialist, summer work travel, teacher, trainee, intern. J-1 visa holders are required to return to their home country after graduation and live there for at least 2 years. You will only be allowed to return to the U.S. after fulfilling this requirement. Most exchange programs offer scholarships or internship salaries, which makes it a bit easier to prove financially, but you must have medical insurance and the ability to cover living expenses for the duration of your stay in the U.S.