Who is it for: A J-1 Visa is also known as an Exchange Visitor Visa. It is for individuals who want to travel to the United States for the purpose of teaching, conducting research, studying as a student or to gain on-the-job training and experience. This category is broad-based and includes several programs:
- College and university students who are supported by funding from sources other than their own or from their family, or who are participating in an educational agreement between the United States and their own country’s government
- Professors or scholarly researchers who are not candidates for tenured positions, have not taken part in a research scholar program in the previous two years, or who have participated in a J-Visa program in the previous year.
- Short-Term scholars who want to travel to the United States for no longer than six months to exchange ideas, lecture, teach, consult or provide research possibilities at cultural and academic institutions.
- Teachers of good character who meet qualifications to teach in their home country, who have at least three years of teaching experience and are entering the United States for the primary purpose a being a full-time teacher
- Camp counselors who are at least 18 years old and proficient enough in English to supervise American youths, as well as being a youth worker, teacher or someone with specialized skills.
- Au pairs between 18 and 26 years old who can pass a background investigation
- Physicians who want to participate in U.S. graduate-level medical training or education programs
- Government visitors who seek to develop relationships with their American counterparts
- International visitors who seek to develop relationships with their key American counterparts and institutions.
- Specialists who are experts in their fields seeking to engage in a meaningful exchange of ideas.
- Interns who want to learn about U.S. business practices in a hands-on environment. Participants must be currently enrolled in a degree program outside the United States or have graduated within the previous 12 months.
- Secondary school students who attend high school and live with an American host family or in a boarding school.
- Foreign college students who want to use their summer vacation to work and travel in the United States.
- Trainees who have a college level degree or certificate and at least one year of experience in their field outside of the United States who want to come to America to get U.S. business practices training in their field.
Immigrant or Non-immigrant visa: Non-immigrant visa
Duration: Will vary depending on each individual situation, with duration ranging from a few weeks to several years.
Check Your Eligibility
Details: In most cases, J-1 visa applicants are sponsored by a United States based organization or hosted by American families or employers. Sponsors will screen candidates to make sure they are eligible for a particular program, and all participants must prove they are proficient in English and have medical insurance for the duration of their stay in the United States. Sponsors will issue a Certificate of Eligibility of Exchange Visitor Status, Form DS-2019 after J-1 applicants have registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
Sponsors must make sure program participants have adequate information and understand contractual obligations before a participant leaves their home country. Sponsors must also conduct an orientation for participants after they arrive in the U.S.
In some instances, when your exchange visitor program ends, you will be required to return to your home country for two years. Depending on the program, J-1 Visa holders may also be able to extend their visa and visitor status beyond what is listed on the Form-2019.
To apply: There are several steps you must take to apply for a J-1 Visa. The exact steps will vary slightly depending on your country of origin, however, these are the general steps you must follow to apply.
Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160. When you have done so, print the application confirmation page and be prepared to bring it to your interview. As part of completing the application, you will need to upload a photo of yourself as well. Photos must be in color, taken within the last six months, and meet other requirements. To see a complete rundown of those requirements, go here.
Check Your Eligibility
Applicants must prove they meet all criteria during an interview by a U.S. consular official in the applicant’s country of residence. If you are 13 or younger, or 80 or older, an interview will generally not be required, however, officials reserve the right to interview anyone no matter what their age is. Interviews must be scheduled at the U.S. Embassy or consulate where you live.
Applicants must also pay a nonimmigrant visa application fee. Currently, the application fee is $160, but is subject to change.