How to Apply for a J1 Visa

As a non-US national, you will typically require a visa to get into the United States. The J-1 exchange visitor visa permits applicants to go to the United States for a temporary stay if taking part in one of the J1 Visa programs. If you have an interest in pursuing one of these programs, you will be required to find a sponsoring body and submit an application for the J1 visa. We have provided a step-by-step procedure on how to apply for a J1 visa:

Step 1 – Find a J Sponsor

When submitting an application for a J1 visa, you will be required to find an authorized sponsor to admit you into their program. Irrespective of their physical location, many of these sponsoring bodies can place applicants throughout the United States. The United States Department of State has the endorsed list of designated sponsor bodies here. Remember that many organizations assess their applicant and look for those with adept English language skills. Your sponsoring body can also assist you with how to apply for a J1 visa.

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Step 2 – Apply for the DS-2019

Once you have submitted an application and been approved by an authorized sponsor body, the next thing to do is to submit the DS-2019 Form, also referred to as the “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status”. This form is the endorsed documents used by the United States Department of State that will allow you to get an interview with the U.S. consulate or embassy. If you will be going together with your spouse or child(ren), they will also be allotted a separate DS-2019 form. This two-page form is granted by your designated sponsoring body and will comprise an explanation of the exchange program, with the start and end date, and also the cost of the program (with an analysis on financial support).

Step 3 – Pay Your Fees

You must pay a SEVIS I-901 fee to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as part of your J-1 visa application process – or this fee may already be included as part of your program fees to your sponsoring body. It is imperative to ask your sponsor to verify whether it will be paid by you, or for you. If the sponsor pays the SEVIS fee for you, ensure you get a receipt proving payment.

Another fee you must pay when you apply for a J1 visa is the Non-immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee, which is $160 and may be paid by going to the Department of State’s Fee for Visa Services. Those applicants who are part of a program with the United States Government, Department of State, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), or a United States Government financed educational and cultural exchange program are excused from paying the Non-immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee as part of their J-1 visa application process.

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Step 4 – Interview with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate

So as to have your J-1 visa application approved, you will require final approval by a consular officer at a US consulate or embassy. Conditional on where you are situated, waiting times to secure an appointment can differ, so it is important to plan early to make sure that you have enough time before your program commences.

If you will be going with a spouse and/or child, you can schedule an appointment for them when you apply for a J1 visa. At the interview, you will be questioned about the program, your plans after the program, how you intend to cover your costs, etc. It is vital to stress that your plan is to finish the program and go back to your home nation upon termination. Be ready to prove your binding ties to your home nation and bring any documents that can further prove your ties back home.

When putting in for a J1 visa, you will be required to submit the following credentials to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy:

  • DS-2019 Form, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status
  • DS-7002 Form, A Training/Internship Placement Proposal (for exchange visitor trainees or intern visa candidates)
  • Form DS-160, Online Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity of up to six months after the planned period of stay in the US
  • One 2×2 photograph

It is important to confirm with your particular embassy or consulate to verify the required documents when you apply for a J1 visa. How to apply for a J1 visa will be decided upon based on your embassy or consulate, and also your personal situation, so it is imperative to ensure you have read about what you are required to do prior to and during your interview.

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