I've been invited for an observership in the U.S. for a period of 2-3 month maximum.

I am a medical doctor from Italy.

I was thinking about coming on a "Visa Waiver Program" since my country is in the list of the allowed ones. However I'm not entirely sure it fits my needs. (I mean it would be perfect for me since it's really easy to get but I don't know if there will be problems with this one which is designed for "vacations and business").

Should I try to get B1 visa instead? Even though I'm not willing to immigrate in US I'm not sure I could prove that during the interview (not married, no children, not owning an house etc).

Or J-1 visa maybe, but the problem with this one is the 2 years out of US after it expires: I will need to come back to US in following years to collaborate on projects/research.

What do you suggest?

  • Anything you can do on a B1/B2 you can do on the VWP, so there's no point in them (unless you need to stay for longer/be more confident of getting in)
    – CMaster
    Dec 19, 2015 at 9:49
  • Thanks for your reply. What do you mean by "be more confident of getting in"? If I'm staying longer can't I just travel outside US and then come back?
    – KingBOB
    Dec 19, 2015 at 10:37
  • 2
    As I understand it, this requires a J-1 visa. The international office of the university where you would be observing can provide more information. Dec 19, 2015 at 14:01
  • Even if this is a J-1 program, subsequent visits might qualify for B-1, in which case you should not be prohibited from returning within two years; thetwo year exclusion applies only to certain work and immigration programs.
    – phoog
    Dec 19, 2015 at 14:35
  • You are not prohibited from traveling to the United States but may not benefit from certain employment-based or family-based visas until the foreign residency requirement is satisfied. (Source: j1visa.state.gov/basics/common-questions)
    – phoog
    Dec 19, 2015 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


In my case, after formal letter exchange with American Embassy in Italy, a B1 visa was required.

Supporting documents to get a B1 visa are listed here: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visitor.html

And an interview at the Embassy is also nedeed. You'll get asked the purpouse of your visit and other related questions.

In my specific case I have already a work here in Italy to be started in the months following my trip to the U.S. so it was easy to prove my non-immigrant intent. Also I showed emails between me and the Department that's hosting me and non-disclosure agreement with their hospital. Another important part of the interview was showing them a bank account balance that would suffice to self-fund myself during my staying.

I honestly don't know why VWP isn't suitable for this, but I think sending an email to your local American Embassy is the best option since each case is different.

  • Thanks for coming back to answer this! Can you give more details? What documents did you provide for the B1? Can you quote the relevant parts of the letter here?
    – JoErNanO
    Apr 13, 2016 at 11:58
  • If a B1 was suitable, why wasn't the VWP? They both have the same permitted activities?
    – CMaster
    Apr 13, 2016 at 12:01

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