Getting your American J-1 Visa

The J-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign nationals to participate in work-and-study-based exchange visitor programs in the United States.

These programs are designed to promote cultural and educational exchange between the United States and other countries.

Types of J-1 visa programs

There are over 15 different types of J-1 visa programs, each with its own specific requirements. Some of the most common types of J-1 visa programs include:

  • Au pair program: Au pairs are domestic child care providers who live with and care for the children of a host family in exchange for room, board, and a stipend.
  • Camp counselor program: Camp counselors work at summer camps in the United States, teaching and supervising children in a variety of activities.
  • College and university student exchange program: College and university students can participate in exchange programs that allow them to study at a U.S. institution for one or two semesters.
  • Secondary school student exchange program: High school students can participate in exchange programs that allow them to attend a U.S. high school for one or two semesters.
  • Government visitor program: Government visitors are foreign government employees who participate in programs to learn about the U.S. government and its operations.
  • International visitor program: International visitors are foreign nationals who participate in programs to learn about U.S. culture and society.
  • Physician exchange program: Physician exchange programs allow foreign doctors to work at U.S. hospitals and clinics for a period of time.
  • Professor exchange program: Professor exchange programs allow foreign professors to teach at U.S. colleges and universities for a period of time.
  • Research scholar program: Research scholar programs allow foreign researchers to conduct research at U.S. institutions for a period of time.
  • Short-term scholar program: Short-term scholar programs allow foreign nationals to participate in short-term research or teaching projects at U.S. institutions.
  • Specialist program: Specialist programs allow foreign nationals to work in their field of expertise in the United States for a period of time.
  • Summer work travel program: Summer work travel programs allow foreign nationals to work in temporary jobs in the United States during the summer months.
  • Teacher program: Teacher programs allow foreign teachers to teach at U.S. schools for a period of time.
  • Trainee program: Trainee programs allow foreign nationals to receive on-the-job training in their field of expertise in the United States for a period of time.

Who is eligible for a J-1 visa?

To be eligible for a J-1 visa, you must:

  • Be a citizen of a country that has a J-1 visa program with the United States.
  • Be sponsored by a U.S.-based exchange visitor program sponsor.
  • Meet the specific requirements of the J-1 visa program you are applying for.

How to apply

To apply for a J-1 visa, you must first contact a U.S.-based exchange visitor program sponsor and apply to their program. Once you have been accepted into a program, your sponsor will send you a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status.

Once you have received your Form DS-2019, you can begin the J-1 visa application process. You will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Pay the SEVIS fee.
  2. Complete the Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
  3. Schedule a J-1 visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.
  4. Attend your J-1 visa interview and bring the following documents:
    • A valid passport.
    • Your Form DS-2019.
    • A copy of your SEVIS fee receipt.
    • A copy of your Form DS-160 confirmation page.
    • Any other supporting documentation required by the embassy or consulate.
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