Recommendations for 2018 J-1 visa Residency Match Applicants:
(APPNA YPC in conjunction with Attorney Shahzad Ahmed of NeJame Law)

Governing your B-1/B-2 status:

– Be prepared to be inspected at the airport about the purpose of your visit; have the necessary support letters ready to show if necessary. Be prepared to explain your duties to be performed. For example, an observorships is permissible; meaning you may watch, discuss, and take notes. You may NOT: take part in hands-on patient care or physical examinations even on a volunteer non-paid basis.  If the U.S. Customs officer feels that your intent is to work or to live in the U.S., then you will be refused admission.

– Avoid prolonged stay in USA on B1/B2 visa. Don’t stay beyond what you had told the visa officer during the initial interview. Otherwise, it may be considered misuse of B1/B2 visa.

– If you have multiple visits (>2) in the last year and each stay was prolonged (>3 months), please consult us and prepare well for the J-1 visa interview. Keep a record of all your activities in USA, and have proof of financial support

– Don’t involve yourself in activities that violate B1/B2 visa status.

Handling your J-1 visa interview:

– Remember, getting matched into a residency program is no guarantee to get J-1 visa. So, ask others who have been interviewed before and prepare your case well

– Visa Interview tips: review and prepare your case, consult your colleagues who have been interviewed before, be honest, respectful, and stay confident

– For a J-1 visa, you must possess non-immigrant intent.  Therefore, your ties and your long-term career goals should be in Pakistan, not in the USA.

– If you were previously revised a non-immigrant visa for failing to prove non-immigrant intent, then the embassy will require a reason for overturning its decision.  Ask yourself: What has changed in my circumstances since my last refusal?  Have I acquired new ties, i.e. new employment, new career goal, marriage, etc.?  Be prepared.

– Do not sound rehearsed.  Sound natural.

– Limit each answer to 2-3 sentences.

Dealing with a visa refusal:

– If you get refused, please contact us immediately. We’ll review your case, and advise accordingly. In some complicated cases, you may need to get assistance from an immigration attorney

– If your case is placed in administrative process, please contact us as well. We’ll help expedite the process. However, the State Department doesn’t give any timeframe and/or specific details (classified)

– Please remain in touch with your program, keep them in confidence. If your program can’t wait beyond July 1st, please inform us. With your permission, we’ll try to contact your program

Considering your alternatives:

– It is possible to change status to J-1 in the USA.  It may take little longer (4 months). We’ll advise to contact any immigration attorney.  Note: changing status to J-1 in the USA does not confer a visa.  So upon departure from the USA after changing status to J-1, you will need to apply for a visa.  Consult with an immigration attorney prior to applying for change of status.

– If you are eligible and your program can sponsor, H-1b visa is a much better option