J-1 Visa for the USA

Table of Contents

  1. What is a J-1 visa for the USA?
  2. Who needs a J-1 visa for the USA?
  3. What is the eligibility for a J-1 visa for the USA?
  4. What are the documents required for a J-1 visa for the USA?
  5. How to apply for a J-1 visa?
  6. How is the J-1 visa interview for the USA?
  7. What are the common questions asked in the J-1 visa interview?
  8. Frequently asked questions

If you are searching for opportunities to study or work in the US for a short period of time, obtaining a J-1 visa suits your interests the best. J-1 visa programs are highly sought after in the US by people from around the world. According to BridgeUSA, a trusted non-profit organization in the US that provides data related to the exchange programs, 300,000 foreign visitors from around 200 countries can take part in the exchange programs every year. The same agency documents that 8,750 students from India participated in J-1 visa programs in 2022.

What is a J-1 visa for the USA?

The J-1 is the exchanger visa in the US required to participate in any exchange visitor program in the US. Such exchange visitor programs in America intend to promote cultural relations and mutual understanding between the US and other countries. 

Some popular exchange programs in America with the J-1 visa overseen by the US government include the following: 

  • Au pair: An au pair is a childcare helper from another country who is hosted by an American family. The au pair will get a small stipend and an opportunity to understand American life and culture.
  • Camp counselor: Camp counselor programs are for post-secondary students, youth workers, and teachers to work at various camps in the US, such as summer camps, adventure camps, or specialty camps, and share their cultural experiences. 
  • Intern programs: Students studying outside the US or fresh graduates can apply for intern programs and get exposed to the business practices in their chosen fields in the US. Such programs are helpful to bridge the gap between formal education and practical work experience. 
  • Trainee: People from other countries can take structured training in American companies and stay in the US for a maximum of 18 months. However, the rules and regulations are impacted by the company’s policy and choice. 
  • Research scholar: Researchers can engage in short-term research activities in the US as part of an exchange program. One such popular exchange program is the Fulbright program for Indian students.
  • Teachers: People from other countries can work as part-time or full-time teachers in the US with a J-1 visa. Foreign nationals must have a minimum of 2 years of teaching experience to teach in the US.

After completing the program, J-1 visa holders must return to their home country. For a period of 2 years, they can’t apply for any other US visas, such as the H or L visas for permanent residency.

Who needs a J-1 visa for the USA?

In short, those who wish to be in the US in any of the government-approved programs for a temporary period require a J-1 visa. 

  • The J-1 visa is required for people who have signed up for a sponsored program in teaching, receiving training, or conducting research. 
  • The J-1 visa is also needed for workers for job training or to take part in an internship in America.

You may refer to the US government website to check whether you need a J-1 visa or not.

What is the eligibility for a J-1 visa for the USA?

Fulfilling the eligibility requirements is mandatory for a successful J-1 visa application for the US. We advise you to check with your program sponsor and ensure your eligibility to take up the program in the US.

  • The J-1 visa programs must be approved by the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the US. 
  • The age limit and educational requirements are set by the sponsoring organization
  • J-1 applicants must submit relevant visa application documents.

What are the documents required for a J-1 visa for the USA?

For a J-1 visa, it is crucial to have all documents handy while applying. Here is the checklist of documents you need to apply for a J-1 visa:

  • A valid passport
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
  • Photo – You need to upload your photo to the online Form DS-160. If you can’t, you have to bring it to the visa interview
  • Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, Form DS-2019. Your program sponsor will provide you and your accompanying family members with Form DS-2019.
  • Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002  for Trainee and Intern programs.

How to apply for a J-1 visa?

Once you get sponsorship for an exchange visitor program in the US, follow the steps below to complete your application for a J-1 visa:

  • Apply and get acceptance to an exchange visitor program in the US through a designated sponsoring organization 
  • Once you are accepted, you will be registered with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
  • Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee of 220 USD
  • Submit a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status
  • Complete the online application by filling out the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • Upload your recent photo while filling out the DS-160
  • Schedule your visa interview and attend it. The interview is not required for children under the age of 13 years and adults aged more than 80 years
SEVIS fee in the US: 220 USDDS-160 fee: 160 USD

How is the J-1 visa interview for the USA?

The J-1 visa interview is not a hard nut to crack if you prepare well for it. Your J-1 visa interview assesses your fit for an exchange visitor visa. The consular officer will be asking questions concerning the purpose of your travel, your plans of returning to your home country after completing the program, how you will pay your living expenses, etc. 

Dress well, prepare for questions, and be organized in your answers. The interview will last for a few minutes, depending on the questions and your responses to them. 

What are the common questions asked in the J-1 visa interview?

You will be asked questions regarding your family background, academics, entrance test results, financial aid, future plans, etc. Given below are some sample questions you can expect in the J-1 visa interview. 

  • Which university do you plan to study in? 
  • What are your IELTS/GRE/TOEFL scores? 
  • What are your career goals after completing the exchange program? 
  • Are you intending to stay in the US after your studies? 
  • How do you fund your studies in the US

Before you apply for a J-1 student visa, go through the eligibility requirements, application process, documents required, and interview process to ease the process. Remember, the first step is finding a program sponsor and getting selected for the program in the US. Explore your options well and secure your acceptance. 

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Frequently asked questions

How much money is required to be shown for a J-1 visa? 

The show money, which is the total cost of attendance, to be shown for the J-1 visa depends on your J-1 visa program. You may refer to the program details for the exact amount you need to show in your account while applying for a J-1 visa.

Can I request an extension of my program? 

Yes. Your program can be extended up to its maximum length by the sponsor. The sponsor will issue a new DS-2019 if the program is extended.

How long does it take to get a J-1 visa? 

The standard time for getting a J-1 visa is 8 – 13 weeks after application. However, the duration of getting a J-1 visa varies from country to country and depends on your individual circumstances. 

Can I apply for another exchange program with the same J-1 visa? 

No. It is mandatory to return back to your home country after completing your studies. You need to reapply and obtain the J-1 visa to get into another exchange visitor program. 

What happens to my J-1 visa if my sponsor terminates my sponsorship? 

If your sponsor terminates your enrollment, you immediately need to be deported from the US. You will not get the 30-day stay facility since you are no longer a part of the program.