Frequently Asked Questions

Teacher FAQ
What is a J-1 Visa and Cultural Exchange?

The J-1 Visa is a special nonimmigrant visa type which enables foreign nationals the opportunity to participate in the U.S Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program (“EVP”). The EVP provides opportunities for around 300,000 foreign visitors per year to experience United States (U.S.) society and culture and engage with Americans. There are fifteen different categories under the J-1 visa program. Exchange visitors 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. EVP participants are young leaders and entrepreneurs, students, fledgling and more seasoned professionals eager to hone their skills, strengthen their English language abilities, connect with Americans, and learn more about the U.S.
Most individuals choosing to come to the U.S. 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.”

What role does Teachers Council play in the J-1 Visa Process?

Teachers Council is a sponsor for the J-1 Teacher Category, designated by the U.S. Department of State. Only designated sponsors are authorized to issue the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (the DS-2019) which is the basic document to support an application for the J-1 Visa. Teachers Council screens and selects prospective exchange visitors based on the criteria set forth in the governing regulations of the Exchange Visitor Program.

What is the Certificate of Eligibility (DS-2019) document?

The Form DS-2019 or Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status; is the basic document used in the administration of the exchange visitor program. This form permits a prospective exchange visitor to seek an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in order to obtain a J visa to enter the United States. The Form DS-2019 identifies the exchange visitor and their designated sponsor and provides a brief description of the exchange visitor’s program, including the start and end date, category of exchange, and an estimate of the cost of the exchange program.

Who is the sponsor when participants are in the United States?

Teachers Council is the participant’s sponsor throughout his or her time in the United States, up to the end date listed on the DS-2019. Teachers Council is available to participants throughout their programs to help with general questions about life and procedures in the United Sates, or about their Program. In case of emergency, Teachers Council offers an emergency contact line which is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Teachers Council also collects periodical evaluations from participants and their host schools to ensure that the experience is positive and that outlined objectives of the program are being met.

How much does the program cost?

The cost of participation in the program will vary, depending on whether you use our placement services, the length of time you plan to host the teacher in the U.S., if they will bring any dependents, and if you select any premium processing options. Program costs may be paid your school, the teacher, or a third party (such as an attorney or a government organization), in any combination. To calculate the application and program costs, please refer to our fee and refund policy.

How do I get my J-1 Visa?

In order to obtain your J-1 Visa, you must engage in a full application and review process with Teachers Council. Teachers Council will assess your application, supporting documents, and intended host school for eligibility and compliance with the Exchange Visitor Program. We also offer a placement program for qualified teachers to assist in finding interested host schools in the U.S. If your application is approved, Teachers Council will issue your DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility and provide further instruction on how you will then apply for a J-1 Visa appointment at your home country’s U.S. embassy or consulate. Issuance of the J-1 visa, like all non-immigrant visas, is at the discretion of Consular Officers viewing visa applications at U.S. embassies and consulates. This means that even if you are accepted to an exchange visitor program and have received your DS-2019, the Consular Officers decide if you receive the J-1 visa.

How much does the program cost?

The cost of participation in the program will vary, depending on the length of time you plan to work in the U.S., if you will bring any dependents, and if you select any premium processing options. Program costs may be paid by you, your U.S. host school, a third party (such as an attorney or a government organization), in any combination. To calculate your costs, please refer to our fee and refund policy.

What is the two year home country physical presence requirement?

Some J-1 exchange visitors* may be subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement which requires you to return to your home country for at least two years at the end of your exchange visitor program. This is also known as the foreign residence requirement under U.S. law, Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(e). As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, United States law requires a two-year period of home residency before an individual applies for non-immigrant visas, (i.e. B-1 and B-2) as temporary workers (i.e. H-1B), or for permanent residency in the United States (i.e. EB-2). This requirement does not prevent you from reentry into the United States within the two-year period to attend conferences, tourism, or for further study nor does this requirement prevent you from going to a third country after leaving the U.S. The U.S. Department of State reserves the right to make final determination regarding 212(e).

*Note, if the J-1 is subject to the two year home physical presence requirement, their accompanying J-2 Dependents are also automatically subject.

I am currently in the U.S. on a different type of visa. Can I change status to a J-1?

Teachers Council is unable to change your status directly from one U.S. visa to another. In order to be eligible to apply for the Teacher Exchange Program, the applicant must currently be working as a teacher in his or her home country or country of legal residence*. Therefore, you are not able to apply for the Teacher Exchange Program if you are currently in the United States on a different type of visa.  Additionally, all applicants must complete their nonimmigrant J-1 Visa appointment outside of the United States in their home country’s American embassy.  You will need to be able to demonstrate strong ties to your home country as well as non-immigrant intent to the United States during this appointment.

*The only exception is if you have within the past 12 months completed an advanced degree beyond a bachelors degree, in education or related teaching area, and also have worked as a teacher for at least 2 years within the past 8 years.

Can Teachers Council place me with a U.S. host school for this program?

Teachers Council does offer a Teacher Placement Program for those teachers who wish to have assistance in finding employment at a U.S. host school. The Placement Program involves an in-depth application and interview process, and there are additional fees for placement beyond regular processing fees.

Can I work a second job while in the U.S. on my program?

No. The only work you are permitted to do while in the U.S. on a J-1 Visa is at your designated host school indicated on your DS-2019. You must be able to demonstrate your ability support yourself financially throughout your time in the United States as a part of your application process, so you should not have any need to work a second job. Any unauthorized work outside of your J-1 host school is forbidden and is grounds for cancellation of your J-1 visa status.

Can I use my own health insurance?

The U.S. Department of State requires that all individuals engaging in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program be covered by a health insurance policy that meets minimum standards of coverage. Most health insurance policies from outside of the United States, and/or those offered by U.S. host companies to regular employees, do not meet these minimum standards of coverage. Teachers Council has therefore arranged for an accident and illness health insurance policy for all of our participants in compliance with Department of State standards, which is mandatory for the duration of the program. You may still utilize coverage from outside of the U.S. or from your U.S. host school that can be used in combination with the Teachers Council insurance to give you additional coverage.

Can I bring my family members?

Yes. You may apply for Teachers Council sponsorship and issuance of DS-2019 documents for your legal spouse and/or unmarried children that are under the age of 21 at time of your J-1 application. Your dependents will be termed J-2 Dependents, and will be linked to all aspects of your J-1 Visa and associated responsibilities. Please let us know during your application process if you would like to bring along any dependents.

Can my spouse work in the U.S.?

Yes. J-2 Dependents are eligible to work in the United States once they file for and obtain an Employment Authorization Document, often called an “EAD Card”, from USCIS. This cannot be
obtained until you and your dependents have arrived in the country. Teachers Council can file for the J-2 EAD card on your behalf if you wish. Please let us know if you would like this service. The process takes approximately 1-3 months from initiation.

*Note that wages from J-2 dependent work in the U.S. are not to be used to support the J-1 visa holder while in the United States, and will not be taken into consideration as we assess your application for financial stability.

Can I arrive early to the U.S. before my program?

Yes. You may arrive to the United States on your J-1 or J-2 Visa up to 30 days prior to the start date indicated on your DS-2019 document. Many participants choose to do this in order to find housing and get settled and acclimated to their new town prior to starting their training experience.

Similarly, there is a 30 day post-program grace period also.  If you wish to engage in tourism activities while still on your J-1 visa after the end date of your program indicated on your DS-2019 document, you are permitted to utilize a 30 day grace period to do so. Past 30 days, your J-1 visa expires and you must depart the country. You would need to obtain a Tourist Visa after departing the country if you wish to re-enter as a tourist.

Can I change to an H-1B visa during or after my program?

As the J-1 Visa program is a nonimmigrant cultural exchange program, the expectation is that you will return home to share your experiences with friends and colleagues in your home country after the program is complete. Therefore, Teachers Council will not advise, assist, or permit any change of visa status to an H-1B.

I am currently on OPT in the United States. Can I apply for a J-1 Program?

If you are currently on OPT after completing a master’s degree in education or related teaching field within the past 12 months, AND have also worked as a teacher in your home country for at least 2 years after the completion of a bachelor’s degree, then you may be able to apply for the J-1 Teacher Exchange Program. A full application will need to be collected and reviewed, and you will not be able to change status directly to the J-1. You will need to depart the U.S., ending your F-1 or other current student visa status, and then make a new nonimmigrant visa appointment at the American embassy in your home country for a J-1 Teacher visa. Keep in mind that you will need to demonstrate strong ties to your home country and nonimmigrant intent at the J-1 visa appointment.

School FAQ
What is a J-1 Visa and Cultural Exchange?

The J-1 Visa is a special nonimmigrant visa type which enables foreign nationals the opportunity to participate in the U.S Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program (“EVP”). The EVP provides opportunities for around 300,000 foreign visitors per year to experience United States (U.S.) society and culture and engage with Americans. There are fifteen different categories under the J-1 visa program. Exchange visitors 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. EVP participants are young leaders and entrepreneurs, students, fledgling and more seasoned professionals eager to hone their skills, strengthen their English language abilities, connect with Americans, and learn more about the U.S.
Most individuals choosing to come to the U.S. 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.”

What role does Teachers Council play in the J-1 Visa Process?

Teachers Council is a sponsor for the J-1 Teacher Category, designated by the U.S. Department of State. Only designated sponsors are authorized to issue the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (the DS-2019) which is the basic document to support an application for the J-1 Visa. Teachers Council screens and selects prospective exchange visitors based on the criteria set forth in the governing regulations of the Exchange Visitor Program.

What is the Certificate of Eligibility (DS-2019) document?

The Form DS-2019 or Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status; is the basic document used in the administration of the exchange visitor program. This form permits a prospective exchange visitor to seek an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in order to obtain a J visa to enter the United States. The Form DS-2019 identifies the exchange visitor and their designated sponsor and provides a brief description of the exchange visitor’s program, including the start and end date, category of exchange, and an estimate of the cost of the exchange program.

Who is the sponsor when participants are in the United States?

Teachers Council is the participant’s sponsor throughout his or her time in the United States, up to the end date listed on the DS-2019. Teachers Council is available to participants throughout their programs to help with general questions about life and procedures in the United Sates, or about their Program. In case of emergency, Teachers Council offers an emergency contact line which is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Teachers Council also collects periodical evaluations from participants and their host schools to ensure that the experience is positive and that outlined objectives of the program are being met.

I am interested in hosting an international teacher. How do they get their J-1 Visa?

In order for your teacher to obtain their J-1 Visa to work at your school, the teacher must engage in a full application and review process with Teachers Council. The Teachers Council application process will assess both the teacher’s application as well as your host school’s application for eligibility and compliance with the Exchange Visitor Program. If the application is approved, Teachers Council will issue your teacher’s DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility and provide further instruction on how he or she will then apply for a J-1 Visa appointment at their home country’s U.S. embassy or consulate. Issuance of the J-1 visa, like all non-immigrant visas, is at the discretion of Consular Officers viewing visa applications at U.S. embassies and consulates. This means that even if Teachers Council accepts the exchange visitor program and issues a DS-2019, the Consular Officers ultimately will decide if the teacher receives the J-1 visa.

How much does the program cost?

The cost of participation in the program will vary, depending on whether you use our placement services, the length of time you plan to host the teacher in the U.S., if they will bring any dependents, and if you select any premium processing options. Program costs may be paid your school, the teacher, or a third party (such as an attorney or a government organization), in any combination. To calculate the application and program costs, please refer to our fee and refund policy.

Can Teachers Council find a qualified teacher to work at my school?

Teachers Council is pleased to be able to offer teacher placement services for your school! Please reach out to us and we will discuss your school’s specific teacher role needs. We will be able to present you with teacher profiles that match your job openings and then lead you and your chosen teacher through the process of obtaining a J-1 visa.

Do I have to pay my J-1 teacher?

Yes. Program regulations require that J-1 teachers be paid the same wage that you would normally pay a domestic teacher for the same role at your school, for a person with the same level of experience as the international teacher. This pay rate may be dictated by your specific school district. The particular arrangements for the amount of your school’s offered wage, stipend, and any other benefits to the teacher will need to be decided and clearly communicated to your teacher during the application process, and in a formal offer of employment.

Do I have to withhold U.S. taxes from my teacher’s paycheck?

Yes. Most J-1 participants will be subject to any applicable local, state, and federal taxes on income gained from working at your school, unless he or she is exempted under a specific tax treaty or special rulings of the U.S. tax authority (rare). So these should be withheld from their pay.
The withholding of Social Security and Medicare taxes (“FICA”) and Federal Unemployment tax (“FUTA”) should NOT be withheld from the teacher’s pay for the first TWO YEARS at your school, because until that point they are considered non-resident aliens for tax purposes. After two years, you will need to also withhold FICA and FUTA from their pay, as they then become resident aliens for tax purposes.

Every J-1 teacher who has earned wages during their exchange will need to file for a U.S. tax return, due each year in April for wages earned in the previous year. We understand that there are differences in how a non-resident alien files their taxes than perhaps what your school is used to with regular domestic employees. Therefore, Teachers Council recommends that your teacher utilizes the assistance of a certified tax professional familiar with the J-1 Visa and associated regulations when filing. The IRS website also provides thorough explanation of Taxation on Nonresident Aliens.

My school offers health insurance to domestic teachers. Can the J-1 teacher use our health insurance?

The U.S. Department of State requires that all individuals engaging in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program be covered by a health insurance policy that meets minimum standards of coverage. Most health insurance policies from outside of the United States, and/or those offered by U.S. host companies to regular domestic employees, do not meet these minimum standards of coverage. Teachers Council has therefore arranged for an accident and illness health insurance policy for all of our participants in compliance with Department of State standards, which is mandatory for the duration of the program. You may still offer health coverage through your school that can be used in combination with the Teachers Council insurance to give your teacher additional coverage.

*Note about ACA compliance for J-1 Teachers:
As with U.S. tax considerations, whether or not the teacher is required to have ACA compliant insurance beyond the insurance offered by Teachers Council, depends on the length of time they have been in the United States. For the first TWO YEARS of their program, teachers are considered non-resident aliens and therefore are not mandated to hold ACA compliant insurance. However, if the teacher’s program at your school continues past two years, then the teacher will need to obtain ACA compliant insurance coverage. While the school is not obligated to provide coverage at any point to the J-1 teacher, it would be very helpful to do so at this point in the teacher’s program, if not already offered. Otherwise, the teacher would need to acquire their own ACA compliant plan on their own, which could be very expensive, or pay the penalty.

Can my teacher arrive early to the U.S. before their program?

Yes. The teacher may arrive to the United States on your J-1 Visa up to 30 days prior to the start date indicated on their DS-2019 document. You may wish to encourage your teacher to arrive during this period so that you can get them set up with human resources or payroll, and to complete any necessary pre-hire orientation or paperwork. However, the teacher may NOT begin actually teaching or working at the school until the start date listed on their DS-2019.

Can I hire my teacher after their J-1 program?

No. As the J-1 Visa program is a non-immigrant cultural exchange program, the expectation is that the teacher will return home to share their experiences with friends and colleagues in their home country after the program is complete. Therefore, Teachers Council will not advise, assist, or permit any change of visa status that would extend their stay past the end date on their DS-2019.

I am interested in hosting a teacher that is currently in the U.S. on a different type of visa. Can they change status to a J-1?

Teachers Council is unable to change a teacher’s status directly from one U.S. visa to another. In order to be eligible to apply for the Teacher Exchange Program, the teacher must currently be working as a teacher in his or her home country or country of legal residence*. Therefore, the teacher is unable to apply for the Teacher Exchange Program if he or she is currently in the United States on a different type of visa.  Additionally, all applicants must complete their nonimmigrant J-1 Visa appointment outside of the United States in their home country’s American embassy.  The teacher will need to be able to demonstrate strong ties to their home country and non-immigrant intent to the United States during their appointment.

*The only exception is if the teacher has within the past 12 months completed an advanced degree beyond a bachelors degree, in education or related teaching area, and also has worked as a teacher for at least 2 years within the past 8 years outside of the United States.

I am interested in hosting a teacher that is currently on OPT in the United States. Can they participate in the J-1 Program at my school?

Qualifying school experience for the intern/trianee’s J-1 Visa must have been completed outside of the United States. If the person has been in the U.S. for some time on a student visa, it is unlikely that they will have the recent qualifying experience within the past 12 months. Therefore, in most cases Teachers Council will be unable to sponsor the person for a J-1 Visa directly after completing OPT. The person will likely need to return home for some time to gain qualifying experience, and regain ties with their home country.

Placement Program FAQ
How much does the Placement Program Cost?

The Placement Program offers additional targeted services for international teachers who wish to be connected to eligible schools in the USA that are interested in hosting international exchange teachers. Teachers Council provides services beyond those in our self-placed program, paying additional attention to your Placement Application process to generate a comprehensive and compelling Placement Profile.  When you engage in the program, you will submit a $500 Placement Application Fee. From there, Teachers Council will work with you to ensure your ability to participate in the program, and then we will utilize our network of school contacts in the USA to place you in the most appropriate school, facilitating multiple interviews when possible so that you can choose the best one for you. Upon successful placement with a school, a $1,500 Placement Match Fee is charged. From there, the regular program fees are collected dependent on the length of your program, if you are going to bring any dependents, and whether you require premium processing.

Does Teachers Council place teachers in any specific states?

Teachers Council is able to place you in any state where your credentials and level of education allow you to teach*. We place teachers all around the country depending on school position availability, and your unique area of expertise. Therefore we cannot say we only work in specific states. If you have any specific preferences during the placement process, you can always let us know and we will do our best to focus on those areas. However, we cannot guarantee that there will immediately be a school willing to host a J1 teacher within your preferred area, so it may add some time to the application. If you are willing to be placed anywhere in the U.S., then that expedites the placement process. That said, it is of course your choice where you ultimately decide to work, and you do not have to accept placement anywhere that you do not want to.

*If you wish to be able to work in a public school system, you must be able to acquire the appropriate license or certificate to teach in the public school district. Teacher license and certification requirements for public schools are governed by the State Department of Education in each U.S. state. Private school teachers typically have less requirements to fulfill in terms of certification, but again, this varies by U.S. state.

Do you only place teachers for the fall?

Teachers Council primarily places Placement Teachers at U.S. schools in accordance with the regular American school year, which begins in the fall (typically August or September) and ends in the following Spring (May, June, July). The bulk of open positions at U.S. schools will be for a fall start date, because schools begin hiring for anticipated open positions prior to the start of the new school year. That said, sometimes teacher positions will open up at various times of the year, and often some will open up during the mid-year winter break (December or January). Therefore, we are able to place teachers at other times than the fall, but typically will encourage Placement Teachers to anticipate a start date in the fall when the most positions will be open. Furthermore, it is a requirement of participation in the Teacher Exchange Program that at the time of application, the teacher is currently working full-time as a teacher in his or her home country, so this should also be considered when it comes to application planning.

If accepted into the Placement Program, will I be given choices of schools?

Teachers Council is authorized to place teachers in any school where his or her credentials and experience allow them to teach. Teachers Council will assess each candidate’s ability to teach in various schools and positions around the country, and through our established school partners, to present as many school placement options as possible to the applicant. We aim to be able to present multiple choices to the applicant teacher whenever possible, so that the teacher can compare schools to find the best fit. But because placement options are based on real position availability, we cannot guarantee any specific number of choices. If after completing interviews with any potential host school, you decide the placement is not the best fit, it is your choice as to whether you would like to continue allowing Teachers Council to present you with other host school options.