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BridgeUSA Teacher Program

The BridgeUSA Teacher Program (J-1 visa program) is a non-immigrant visa issued by the U.S. Department of State. The cultural exchange program allows qualified foreign nationals to teach full-time in accredited public and private U.S. primary and secondary schools (K-12) for up to 5 years. The objective is for exchange teachers to sharpen their professional skills and participate in cross-cultural activities in schools and communities, and they return home after completion of the program.

The purpose of a J-1 exchange visitor program is to teach, study, receive training, or demonstrate a particular skill in the United States. As a general rule, J-1 visa holders are limited to working for their program sponsor.

Value of the program

  • Places highly qualified teachers at K-12 schools for up to 5 years

  • J-1 Teachers have an equivalent to a U.S. bachelor degree and min. 2 years teaching experience

  • Program promotes cultural interchange of U.S. and foreign teachers

  • J-1 Teachers participate in cross-cultural activities in schools and local communities

  • Enhance U.S. students’ knowledge of foreign countries, cultures, customs, and teaching approaches.

Teacher eligibility requirements

To qualify for the J-1 visa requirements, the teacher must meet the following criteria:

  • At the time of the application process for the visa, you must be working as a teacher in a primary or secondary school in your home country and have at least two years of experience

  • Have sufficient knowledge of the English language and have a valid passport

  • Have a degree equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s Degree in either Education or the academic subject field in which you intend to teach

  • As of 2011, a job offer is required before a visa interview.

School requirements

To host a J-1 teacher, the school must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be an accredited public or private primary or secondary school

  • Teaching positions must be full time (min. 32 hours per week) of teaching or teaching-related administrative activities

  • Must start at the beginning of the academic year

  • J-1 Teachers comply with any applicable collective bargaining agreement

  • Teaching positions, including duties, responsibilities, hours of employment, and compensation, are commensurate with those of similarly-situated U.S. teachers.

J-1 Visa Program requirements

  • J-1 teachers must begin employment with a host school at the start of the academic year

  • During each academic year of program participation, the teacher must complete 2 cultural activities: one activity must be designed to give an overview of the history, traditions, heritage, culture, economy, educational system and/or other attributes of the home country; the other activity must involve a virtual exchange of U.S. student dialogue with schools or students in the teacher’s home country

  • J-1 teacher must submit to annual reports detailing the cultural activities and their estimated impact.

  • A Visa application for maintaining J-1 status is possible via the DS-2019 form. A student who meets the Department of State program and "substantial support" requirements is issued a DS-2019 form by Teachers College. A financial support document must accompany all applications.

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