The USA J1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued to those who intend to participate in exchange visitor programs. The Exchange Visitor program helps to strengthen global understanding through educational and cultural exchanges. So, all participants must return to their country after the end of the program to share their experiences. Everyone who wants to participate in these programs must obtain a J1 visa, even those who live in the Visa Waiver Program countries.
What is the USA J1 visa?
This visa allows a range of people to participate in cultural and educational exchange programs as part of a sponsorship program. People in the following categories can travel to the United States under the US J1 visa:
- Au Pairs
- Camp Counselors
- Government visitors
- International visitors
- Professors and Research Scholars
- Short-term Scholars
- Specialists in different areas
- University Students
- Secondary School Students
- Work and Travel Participants
There is no annual cap to issue this visa. Everyone who wants to participate in cultural and educational exchange programs, even nationals of countries listed in the Visa Waiver Program, will need this visa.
What are the documents and conditions to obtain this visa?
Applicants will need a sponsor in the J1 visa application process. Sponsors select eligible participants for each category based on the program-specific criteria. Additionally, applicants must be fluent in English and have insurance. Program information is provided to participants by sponsors. Sponsors will also assess participants’ progress during the program.
If the sponsor fails to answer your questions or concerns, you can contact the US Department of State directly by phone or email below:
- [email protected].
The US J1 visa requirements are:
- A valid passport
- Complete the DS-160 form and receive the confirmation barcode
- Receipt of visa application fee
- Two photos of the applicant
- Form DS-2019 given by sponsors via the SEVIS system (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)
- Form DS-7002 for interns or trainees (Training/Internship Placement Plan)
How to apply for this visa?
The steps of the US J1 visa application are:
- Applicants for this visa need a sponsor. If you want to participate in J-1 visa programs, you must first contact a designated sponsor. On the official website of the US Department of State, you can find the sponsors’ addresses and locations. Sponsors have various tasks. In the following, we will explain their responsibilities in different categories.
- The Form DS-2019: This form (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status) provides a brief description of the designated sponsor, the exchange visitor, the start and end dates of the program, and the exchange category. The sponsor issues this form to the participant who screened and selected him. The sponsor must complete the information in the form.
- The DS-160 form must be completed.
- $ 160 must be paid as a visa application fee. If your sponsor is a US agency, you will be exempt from paying this fee.
- $ 180 must be paid as the SEVIS I-901 fee.
- Schedule the visa interview appointment
- Tender the needed documents for J-1 Visa
The Department of State J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program website
List of sponsors for an exchange program.
The list of U.S. Embassy or Consulate
The program matches au pairs from different countries with host families. Au pairs take care of the kids and engage in academic programs.
Au Pair Benefits
Au Pair Restrictions
Camp counselors work with children in US youth camps and aim to share their culture.
Prominent members of other countries go to the US via the US government agency’s invitation to reinforce the communication between the two countries.
University students or graduates from other countries travel to the US to gain experience through internships and become familiar with American culture.
The advantage of this position is that the trainee can gain excellent practical experience. But the trainee is not allowed to work in the following areas:
- Unskilled job opportunities
- Medical Care
- Child care
- Any job that requires more than 20 percent of office support work
International visitors are professionals from other countries who travel to the US to exchange their experiences with this country.
Participants in these programs will have a better understanding of US culture through their activities. However, applicants must not have resided in the United States for more than one year.
Foreign physicians from other countries can enter US medical schools under this visa and take training courses.
By taking this course, physicians can get the right training and credibility.
Professors and Research Scholars
Using this program, researchers can travel to the US to strengthen research links between the US and other countries.
By participating in these programs, researchers can strengthen educational cooperation between cultures and countries.
Under this program, scholars can travel to the US for consultations, pieces of training, lectures, etc., in US institutions.
Researchers who come to the US on this visa should not stay for more than six months. It is also not allowed to renew or change the status of this category.
Specialists in various fields
Experts in various fields can share their ideas and knowledge with other experts in the United States.
Applicants in this category cannot participate in programs longer than one year old.
Students can complete a US degree and can complete their internships.
If you intend to enroll in a non-degree program, the duration of the program should not exceed two years.
Secondary school students
Students can complete their high school year in the US and live with an American family.
Students can complete high school and participate in extracurricular activities. Students are not allowed to do part-time and full-time work except for yard work or babysitting.
Foreign teachers can travel to the US to teach in primary and secondary schools.
Teachers can stay in the program for two years and extend their stay for another two years. They must submit their documents and reasons to the State Department three months before the extension period begins.
Foreign nationals can travel to the US to take various programs and learn about American culture.
Areas of training include:
This program increases the knowledge of trainees. It should be noted that trainees cannot work in the following areas:
- Unskilled labor positions
- Child, elderly or patient care
- Jobs requiring more than 20% of office work
Work and travel participants
Students who have completed their degree in their home country can come to the US temporarily to work and travel.
The participants are not allowed to do the following tasks:
- Domestic work or vehicle operators
- Patient or medical care
- Gambling and betting
- Adult entertainment or commission work
- Chemicals and warehousing
- Night jobs and dangerous jobs
- Occupations related to human trafficking
If you want to learn how is it possible for doctors to move to the US, read this article.
What are the US J1 visa interview questions?
As part of the pre-visa process, applicants must attend an interview at the US Consulate or Embassy in their home country. The waiting time for the interview is different for each applicant. Therefore, an early visa application is strongly encouraged.
On the day of the interview, first, note that you have all the necessary documents. Then, know that you have to honestly answer the consular officer’s questions and emphasize that you will return to your country after the end of the program. Some common interview questions for a US J1 visa are:
- Why do you intend to come to the US?
- What are your documents?
- What program have you applied for?
- When did you apply for your program?
- How are your travel expenses covered?
- What will you do in the US?
- Have you ever been to the US?
- What is your placement fee?
- Do you have relatives in the United States?
- Are you traveling with your friends or family members?
- What are your plans after completing the J-1 program?
If your answers fail to prove your eligibility for the consular officer, your visa application will be rejected. Never emphasize your employment because this may portray that you intend to reside permanently in the United States.
How much does it cost to obtain a USA J1 visa?
The application fee for a US J1 visa, like other non-US immigrant visas, is $ 160. If your sponsor is a US government agency, you will be exempt from paying this fee. When you are selected for the exchange visitor program, the sponsor will issue a DS-2019 form. In that case, you must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee to the Department of Homeland Security. Your sponsor can provide you with details on all payments. You must bring all the payment receipts with you on the day of the interview.
How long does it take to assess documents and issue a US J1 visa?
The waiting time of the interview and processing time for an Exchange Visitor Visa visa varies depending on the country of the applicants and the individual circumstances. Therefore, it is recommended that you take action as soon as possible to prevent problems.
How long is a US J1 visa valid?
When applicants receive their visas, the validity period is written in the DS-2019 form. In general, the validity of a J1 visa varies for different categories. Whenever a visa expires, people cannot stay in the US for longer. When the US J1 visa expires, the US government gives the visa holder 30 days to return home. If people want to return to the US under this visa, they must stay in their home country for at least two years and then apply again. This is a Two-Year Home Residency.
How can the USA J1 visa be extended?
Holders of a US J1 visa can extend their stay in the US. Sponsors decide whether the applicant can stay longer than the allowable date for the category. Participants can also request more than the allowed period for their category. The sponsor must apply to the US Department of State and pay $ 367. This fee is non-refundable. This fee is non-refundable. The sponsor must explain why the participant wants to extend their stay in the US.
How long before the program starts, participants can enter the US? How long can they stay in this country after the end of the program?
You cannot go to the US more than 30 days before the start of the program. After the program, you will have 30 days to leave the country. The start and end dates of your exchange visitor program are shown in the DS-2019 form.
Can the holders of the USA J1 visa change their visa category?
Yes. J-1 visa holders can change their visa category. For this purpose, they must first find an appropriate sponsor in that category. The new sponsor must then submit a request to the US Department of State. If the US Department of State approves the application, a new DS-2019 form will be issued. Holders of this visa can transfer it to another program within the same category. If they can find a sponsor, the officer will have to issue a new DS-2019 form.
What Is a Two-Year Home Residency Requirement?
This requirement means that holders of a J1 visa must stay in their home country for two years. After this period, they can apply for this visa again. Visitor exchange visa holders cannot obtain US permanent residency, immigrant visas, and temporary work visas unless they have completed the two-year period.
The holder of a J1 visa must be physically residing in their home country for two years. This period can be in sequence or incremental. This means that a person can return to his country and stay there for two years. Or the person returns to his home country and stays there for a year, then travels elsewhere and returns home for another year. These conditions depend on the contract concluded between the visa holder and the exchange institution. The two-year requirement is subjected to the following individuals:
- If the US government, your government, an institution in the US, or your country funds your program.
- If you have obtained a skill or specialization in the US, that is important in your home country.
- If you have completed a medical training course in the US.
Dependents of J1 visa holders who have a J2 visa must also return to their home country once the primary visa holder returns.
Can a two-year Home Residency requirement be waived?
Under the following conditions, individuals are not required to comply with the two-year Home Residency requirement:
If the person submits a No Objections statement:
This statement is sent by your country to the US Embassy or Consulate and shows that they have no complaints if you are not returning to your country.
If the US Federal Agency applies for the waiver:
Many J1 visa holders work on important projects in the US that have significant benefits for the US Federal Agency. If a J1 visa holder is required to complete the project, the Federal Agency will send the waiver directly to the Waiver Review Division.
If you provide a persecution waiver:
You may show that you will be persecuted religiously, politically, or racially when you return to your home country. In this case, you need to apply for a persecution waiver. To do this, you must first send Form I-612 to US Citizenship and Immigration Services. They will refer your request to the Waiver Review Division.
If you have a spouse or child who is a US citizen:
If the J1 visa holders have a spouse or child who is a US citizen, they must prove that their move back to their home country will cause too much hardship for their families. You must first send Form I-612 to the USCIS, then they will refer your request to the Waiver Review Division.
If the Designated State Public Health Department requests a waiver:
Medical graduates who enter the US under the Exchange Visitor Program can apply for the waiver under the following conditions:
- Have a full-time job offer in centers that face shortages for your profession.
- If you have signed a work contract that shows you will start working 90 days after receiving the waiver. You will also work 40 hours per week for at least three years.
How to Apply for a Waiver request?
The steps to waive the Exchange Visitor Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement are:
- You must complete the Form DS-3035 available on the J Visa Waiver Online. This application form must be completed online. Print the barcode with the DS-3035 form.
- You must send these items to one of the following addresses:
- The print of the online application form and barcode
- Copies of Form DS-2019 / IAP-66 issued to you
- Two self-addressed, stamped legal-size envelopes
- The application fee is $ 120, which you must pay and send the receipt.
Department of State J-1 Waiver
P.O. Box 979037
St. Louis, MO 63197-9000
Department of State J-1 Waiver
P.O. Box 979037
1005 Convention Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63101-1200
- Third-party must submit the supporting documents: You need to make sure that the third party has sent the additional documents mentioned in the previous section.
|No objection statement||Your home country’s government|
|Request from the US Federal Agency||US federal government agency|
|Exceptional Hardship to a US Citizen (spouse or child)||USCIS|
|Designated State Public Health Department||Designated State Public Health Department|
The third party must send the documents to the following address:
Waiver Review Division
U.S. Department of State
SA-17, Floor 11
Washington, DC 20522-1711
Can a USA J1 visa holder bring their dependents to the US?
Spouses and single children under 21 years old can come to the United States by obtaining a J-2 visa.
Can J-1 visa holders apply directly for a US Green Card?
No. J-1 visa holders cannot apply for a Green Card directly within the US. They will either have to change their visa status to another visa or apply for a Green Card outside the country
Let’s sup up…
In this article, we discussed important issues such as the USA J1 visa application process, its requirements, different categories, and the visa extension process. On the Visa Library website, you can learn about other US visas as well as ways to immigrate to other countries. In case you have some experience, please write it down in the comment section. Your comments let the readers choose better and avoid mistakes. Conveying your experiences in comments is a great help for applicants.