J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Eligibility and Requirements

Free-Photos.  Pixabay

Free-Photos. Pixabay

J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa: Eligibility and Other Requirements. What do I need to know for the visa interview?

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is appropriate for those who intend to participate in U.S. Department of State (DOS) approved program for teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.
J-1 visa holders are therefore sponsored by an exchange program that is designated by the DOS. These programs are designed to promote the interchange or persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts, and science. Click here for the list of approved programs on the first part of this blog post, What is the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa?
What are the Eligibility and Fee Requirements?
Sponsors screen and select their program participants according to the eligibility criteria for each program category. Some categories require that a personal interview be part of the screening and selection process. In addition to program-specific criteria, all participants must satisfy English language proficiency and insurance requirements. Sponsors must provide information to participants prior to their departure from their home countries and an orientation upon their arrival in the United States. Sponsors are also required to monitor the progress and welfare of the participants for the duration of their programs.
Unless you are in a federally-funded exchange program, sponsor organizations charge participants program fees. Fees vary from sponsor to sponsor based on the exchange category, the sponsor’s program, program duration, etc. Be sure to check with your sponsor to get a breakdown of all costs and fees. In addition, there are Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) and visa fees. Click here for more information.
What documents do I need to submit? 
When applying, each visa applicant must submit to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate the following:

  • DS 2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. All exchange visitors, including their spouses and dependents must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Each individual must have a DS-2019.
  • A Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002. All J visa trainee or intern visa applicants must also present Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002 when applying for a visa. If your Form DS-2019 is issued prior to July 19, 2007 a Form DS-7002 is not required.
  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. Visit the DS-160 website to learn more about the DS-160 online process.
  • A passport valid for travel to the U.S. and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions).
  • One (1) 2x2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in photograph requirements.
  • Find out if there are any additional documentation items required by reviewing the U.S. embassy or consulate website, including a copy of the interview notice confirmation.
  • Applicants must demonstrate to the consular officer that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country which they have no intention of abandoning, and that they are coming to the U.S. for a temporary period.

What do I need to know for my J-1 Visa Interview at the Consulate?
As part of the visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79, with few exceptions. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged.

Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide is available on the Visa Wait Times website, and on most embassy websites. If you are authorized by your sponsor to be accompanied by your spouse and children, they will also be given a Form DS-2019 and they can apply at the same time.
During the visa application process, usually at the interview, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be quickly taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant's interview by a Consular Officer.
For more information on the J-1 Visa, please follow the link to the first part of this blog post, What is the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa? The visa application process can be time-consuming and complicated. Contact us to see how we can help you!

Rasoulpour Torregoza is the law firm for immigrants, by immigrants. We are founded on the motto of LegalEase: we do away with the legal jargon and make law easy to understand, so you can focus on what’s important to you – going for your American Dream.
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