J1 Visa (Exchange Visitor Visa)

Generally, people who wish to enter United States must obtain visa, either an immigrant visa (permanent residence) or non immigrant visa (temporary stay). J-1 visa is a non immigrant visa which is issued to the participants who wish to be in U.S on a temporary basis (i.e. medical treatment, temporary work, business, or study). This non immigrant visa category was created by U.S government to foster cultural exchange by encouraging approved individuals to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor program in United States.

Foreign country candidates who are looking to travel to United States to gain experience can take up exchange visitor visa program which allows countless of opportunities. It enables the foreign national candidates to come to U.S to study, conduct research, teach, demonstrate special skills or receive on the job training for few weeks to several years.

J-1 Visa Program Requirements

J-1 visa program requirement is almost same for Interns and trainees, you got to choose your category as to internship or training while filing in the DS-2019 application. One should be fluent in English.

Application Form

The basic document for exchange visitor program is the Form DS-2019 or "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status” with a unique identifier known as a “SEVIS ID number” in the top right-hand corner. It is a 2-page document controlled by Department of State and produced through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Application process

You need to take part in J-1 visa program before you apply for J-1 visa at U.S. Embassy or Consulate. To take part in J-1 visa program, you got to contact the designated sponsor; the one point contact person throughout the exchange program process. Only approved individuals of exchange visitor program can participate and enroll themselves in Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Participant will be interviewed by the consular officer usually in their home country.

Eligibility criteria and Fee

As per the eligibility criteria sponsors screen and select their program participants for each program category. For some categories, personal interview will be the part of the screening and selection process. Apart from the program specific criteria all the participants should fulfill English language proficiency and insurance requirement.

English Language Proficiency

To participate in Exchange Visitor program participant need to posses sufficient English language proficiency. Please refer to regulation for details. [22 CFR 62.10(a)(2)]

Insurance As per the program regulation, sponsor should ensure that all the participants and its J-2 dependents need to have appropriate medical insurance. In case, if any of them doesn’t hold the medical insurance or if any of the participants doesn’t meet the coverage criteria sponsor need to facilitate them to purchase. Please refer to the regulations for details. [22 CFR 62.14]

Pre-Arrival Information Before departure from your home country sponsor will provide the clear information on pre-arrival and an orientation after you land in United States. Kindly refer to the regulations for additional information. [22 CFR 62.10 (b)(1-8) and for categories of interest refer to specific regulations.

Orientation and Monitoring Sponsors must offer all participants and its J-2 dependents appropriate orientation, especially for them whose stay in United States is for at least one year. Do refer [22 CFR 62.10 (c)(1-7) and for categories of interest refer to specific regulations. Clear information on region, state and locale should be provided by sponsor.

Apart from the orientation, sponsor also requires to monitor the progress and welfare of all his participants and make sure that the activities are consistent with that of participants’ Form DS-2019 and take their valid contact number for further requirement. For any assistance participants do not need to hesitate and can directly get in touch with the sponsor at any point of time for assistance. Kindly refer [22 CFR 62.10(e)] for additional information and specific regulations for categories of interest.

Fees for J-1 visa

Program Fees If you are not in the federally funded exchange program sponsor charges the participants program fees which differs from one sponsor to another as it will be based on program duration, the sponsor’s program, exchange category, etc. Make sure you get the breakdown of all costs and fee from the sponsor.

SEVIS Fee Participants who are accepted into an exchange visitor program can get enroll themselves and participate in Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Sponsor will issue the form DS-2019 to the approved individuals of exchange visitor program. If the SEVI fee was the part of your program you don’t need to pay else you got to pay SEVIS I-901 fee to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), sponsor will clear you on this.

Visa Fees Participants should pay non immigrant visa application processing fee at U.S embassy or consulate. During interview by consular officer usually in their home country participant has to demonstrate their eligibility at U.S. embassy or consulate. While going to visa interview participant need to carry the paid receipt of visa processing fee.

Visa issuance fee U.S. Government sponsored exchange visitor (J visa) applicants and their dependent don’t need to pay the Visa application or issuance fee. Others kindly check with embassy about additional reciprocity fee as it varies.

Supporting Documents required

Applicants must submit the following documents to U.S. Embassy or Consulate:

  • Form DS-2019 “Certificate of Eligibility” for Exchange Visitor Status issued by your sponsor
  • A Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002 only for trainee or intern visa applicants
  • Online Non immigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160.
  • Paid receipt of the visa application fee
  • A valid passport for travel to the U.S
  • 2x2 photograph (With required format)
  • Check if any additional document is required by U.S. Embassy or Consulate

Reasons for J-1 visa Rejection

Form DS-2019 issued by the sponsor doesn’t provide guarantee that a U.S consulate will issue J-1 Visa. Based on the U.S immigration law the application will be approved or denial. There are various factors which are considered by U.S consular officers some of them are

  • If necessary information or supporting document is not submitted by the applicant
  • Participant’s intention to remain in U.S past the time allowed
  • Evidence of financial means to cover expenses in the U.S should be disclosed
  • Evidence of Social and economic ties abroad
  • Participants presenting with fraudulent student documentation
  • Uncooperative manner towards US consulate worker

How Long Can Stay or Extension with this Visa

To extend the stay of the participant, the responsible officer has to issue the new DS-2019. In certain cases and programs with approval from the Department of State, Extensions beyond the maximum program duration are allowed. After completion of the program a period of 30-day grace period is allowed to the participants to travel under the jurisdiction of the USCIS.

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