The Exchange Visitor program implements the federal Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (the "Act"). The Exchange Visitor program — Teacher category promotes the interchange of U.S. and foreign teachers.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is one of many approved sponsors participating in this program and, like many sponsors, only sponsors exchange visitors from countries with which it has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
The Department currently has MOUs with the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport and the Camões, Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, I.P. Through these partnerships, licensed teachers from Spain and Portugal who meet the eligibility criteria can come to the United States on a J visa and teach as a full-time teacher of record in a Massachusetts accredited public or private primary or secondary school (pre-K–12) for up to three years, with a onetime option of extending the program for the maximum of an additional 1–2 years.
If you are an educator from another country seeking to take part in this Exchange Visitor program, you may be able to find another approved sponsor for the Teacher category who may be able to sponsor you within their program. A list of approved sponsors can be found at: Teacher Program at BridgeUSA.
Mandatory Insurance Requirement
Exchange visitors are typically offered insurance via payroll deduction at their host school, the exchange visitor must voluntarily authorize this action in writing and also be given the opportunity to make other arrangements to obtain insurance. These authorizations must be kept on file by the sponsor.
Minimum coverage must provide:
Accompanying spouses and dependents are required to be covered by insurance in the amounts set forth above. Exchange visitors will be notified of this requirement, in writing, in advance of the exchange visitor's arrival in the United States.
Exchange visitors who willfully fail to maintain the insurance coverage set forth above while a participant in an exchange visitor program or who make material misrepresentations to the sponsor concerning such coverage will be deemed to be in violation of these regulations and will be subject to termination as an exchange visitor.
Expected Work Related Deductions
This varies by school district and will be provided to the exchange teacher by their host school/school district at the time that the exchange visitor is accepted into the program and prior to the exchange teacher signing their contract. Estimated work-related deductions can include but may not be limited to:
Massachusetts Educator License Exemption: Traditional PreK–12 public school visiting teachers on J-1 visas are exempt from having to obtain a Massachusetts educator license or endorsement(s); however, exchange teachers employed by a Charter School are subject to Charter School Regulations and may be required to obtain a MA license, endorsement, and/or pass MTEL tests to be legally employed. Please note that even if an exchange visitor is exempt from obtaining an educator licensure / endorsement by the state, a hiring school district may require an exchange teacher to hold a MA educator license or obtain the SEI or Bilingual Education endorsement. Spouses on a J-2 visa who obtain a work permit and are employed as a public-school teacher, are not exempt from the licensure requirements.
Exchange Visitor Program Application
Exchange Visitor Handbook
Exchange Visitor Orientation Guide
Exchange Visitor Annual Cross-cultural Activity Report
Exchange Visitor Program Extension Application
Driver's License and Social Security Brochure
Brochure — The Exchange Visitor Program
William Wilberforce Brochure
Internal Revenue Services — International Taxpayers
Massachusetts Department of Revenue
Exchange Visitors Rights and Protection
Last Updated: October 5, 2023
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
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