In Georgia and across the U.S., the new school year and college semesters have begun. However, this does not necessarily mean you have missed your chances to study in this country if that is your goal. If you have plans to come to the U.S. to earn a degree or receive specialized training, you have several options available for obtaining lawful immigration status and the privileges that come with that status.

One program you may want to explore is the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. Whether you are in secondary school or college level, you may qualify for this program, which allows you to live with an American family or on campus while you continue your education. It is not always easy to complete the process for qualifying, and the immigration laws in the U.S. can be complex. Therefore, it is wise to have a legal advocate guiding you through the steps.

Are you eligible?

The J-1 Exchange Program gives you a chance to improve your English skills and immerse yourself in the American culture through close interaction with your host family or other students at the university or college you attend. If you are a secondary student, you may wish to participate on an athletic team, join other extra-curricular activities, or take classes your home country does not offer. College students may also work part-time in some circumstances. To be eligible for this program, the following must be true:

  • You have a firm grasp of the English language.
  • You are between ages 15 and 18 if you are in secondary school.
  • You have secured financing through your country, the U.S. or some other source.
  • You are pursuing an academic, non-degree program or internship at an accredited educational institution.
  • You understand the length of time a J-1 visa will grant you to remain in the U.S.

The J-1 program offers many other opportunities beyond these, and you may find you qualify as an au pair, a teacher, a camp counselor or in other capacities. You can reach out for more information and for help with applying for your visa.

There is a lot of bad information floating around, and you can easily find your way to a website that sounds appealing but offers you a scam and takes your money. Your smartest move is to learn as much as you can about the process and have a skilled and dependable legal ally guiding you through each step.