J1 Visa Explained

J1 Visa Explained

What is a J-1 Visa?

The J-1 visa, commonly known as the Exchange Visitor Visa or J student visa, is for anybody from outside the United States who intends to participate in Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs-approved study and work-related exchange programs. A J-1 student visa holder is usually sponsored by a school or charitable organization.

There are 15 sorts of occupations and/or program types that are eligible for the J-1 visa:

  1. ​Au Pair

  2. Camp Counselor

  3. College and University Student Program

  4. Secondary School Student Program

  5. Government Visitor Program

  6. International Visitor Program

  7. Physician Program

  8. Professor and Research Scholar Program

  9. Short-Term Scholar Program

  10. Specialist Program

  11. Summer Work Travel Program

  12. Teacher Program

  13. Trainee Program

  14. Intern Program

  15. Working Outside the Program

  16. J-2 Visa

You can study at a college or university in the United States and stay for the duration of your course or degree program if you apply for a J-1 student visa under the College and University Student Program category.

The length of your stay in the United States on a J-1 student visa is determined by the program you choose. For example, if you have a J-1 visa for a Camp Counselor program, you will likely only be in the US for a limited period of time (e.g., four months over the summer), whereas Au Pair and Research Scholar programs may require J-1 visas that are good for several years in the US.

After graduation, J-1 visa holders must return to their home country and live there for at least two years. Only once you have completed this requirement will you be permitted to return to the United States. This criterion may be waived in the event of an emergency or unusual circumstances relating to your return to your home country.

What Is the Difference Between a J-1 and F-1 Student Visa?

While J-1 and F-1 student visas appear to be comparable, there are some key differences to be aware of when deciding which visa to apply for:

As a point of contact: —, J-1 students must work with a Responsible Officer from their program sponsor. Responsible Officers must keep an eye on J-1 visa students' health, safety, and well-being to ensure that they are adhering to all visa requirements. At their institution or university, F-1 students have a Designated School Official (DSO) who is responsible for supporting them with all visa laws and regulations during their stay in the United States.

Certificates of Eligibility—Students must present Form DS-2019 when applying for a J-1 student visa. This form contains program details as well as other crucial information, such as a cost breakdown, program start and end dates, and financial assistance choices. Students on F-1 visas must fill out an I-20 form, which provides the same information.

Post-graduate job and training—For up to 18 months after graduation, J-1 students are eligible for Academic Training (AT) in an area linked to their curriculum. J-1 students with a PhD can apply for an extra 18 months of AT in their field of study. Students with an F-1 student visa can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) in the United States for up to 12 months after graduation in a related profession. F-1 students with STEM degrees might request an additional two years of work in their area.

Working restrictions—While J-1 visa students are only permitted to work on campus, F-1 visa students are permitted to work off campus after completing one academic year of school. J-1 visa students' families (spouses and children) are also allowed to work and study full time in the United States. F-1 students' dependents are not allowed to work, but they can enroll in part-time classes.

Funding source —J-1 students are enrolled in programs that are financed by a recognized educational or nonprofit institution. Friends and relatives can help sponsor F-1 students, as well as their own financial contributions.

Home residency requirements—If they do not have any extensions, J-1 visa students must return to their home countries within 30 days of their program's finish date and live there for two years before returning to the United States. F-1 students do not have this requirement in their visa restrictions, but if they do not have any extensions, they must leave the United States within 60 days of the completion of their program.

What Are the J-1 Visa Program Requirements?

When completing your application, make sure you match the following J-1 visa student requirements:

Maintain your funding source—At least half of your program's money must come from an accredited sponsor who isn't a personal friend or family member.

Meet English language proficiency requirements—You must meet the institution or college's English language competence requirements.

Maintain valid insurance—You and your dependents must have medical insurance that fulfills your host university's minimum requirements.

Follow up on pre-arrival information and attend orientation—Your sponsor must supply you and any dependents with information on the program you've chosen, as well as conduct an orientation with information about the region where you'll be studying.

Follow J-1 visa rules—You and your sponsor must make sure that you are following all J-1 visa criteria and that your status as a J-1 student is active. In addition, your sponsor must provide you with a 24-hour emergency contact.

Meet the requirements for home residency—After completing your program, you must return to your home country and live there for at least two years.

Have a valid passport—You and any dependents must make sure that your passports are valid for travel to the United States for at least six months before the end of your program.

Maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year—While you are permitted to work full-time during academic breaks, you must remain engaged in full-time study during the academic year.

Work restrictions—If you wish to work while you study, make sure you only work part-time on campus for a total of 20 hours a week. During academic breaks, you can work full-time. Working off campus is not authorized unless your sponsor and university have given you permission.

How Do You Submit a J-1 Visa Application?

To submit your application, make sure you've read the J-1 visa criteria and have all of the following documents ready:

  • Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (DS-2019)

  • Training/Internship Placement Plan (DS-7002) (only necessary for exchange visitor trainees or intern visa applicants)

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160)

  • Authentic passport

  • One photograph (2x2)

Here are the procedures you'll need to do if you want to apply for a J-1 student visa:

1. Decide on a Sponsor

Your program must be sponsored by a non-personal source, which is one of the key requirements of a J-1 student visa. You must find a sponsor who is willing to fund your program. Keep in mind that the sponsor must be a US Department of State accredited organization. A complete list of their designated sponsor organizations may be found here.

2. Submit Your DS-2019 Form

You must submit the DS-2019 form after applying to a sponsor and being accepted into the program. This is your Certificate of Eligibility to apply for J-1 status. Your designated sponsor will issue the form, and if you have any dependents, you will receive a different version of the DS-2019 form, so double-check that you have received the correct one.

3. Pay the Required Fees

You must submit the DS-2019 form after applying to a sponsor and being accepted into the program. This is your Certificate of Eligibility to apply for J-1 status. Your designated sponsor will issue the form, and if you have any dependents, you will receive a different version of the DS-2019 form, so double-check that you have received the correct one.

4. Schedule a Visa Interview

You will be interviewed by a consular officer at your local US Embassy or Consulate if your application is accepted. Because waiting times vary based on your country, you should make your appointment as soon as possible. If you have dependents, you can make an appointment for them to attend your interview with you.

5. Attend Your Visa Interview

The consulate officer will interview you in order to learn about your reasons for visiting the United States. Expect to be asked questions like:

What made you decide on your field of study?

Do you intend to continue your education?

What are the occupations of your parents?

Who is responsible for your education?

Do you intend to continue working after your exchange program?

What are your long-term employment objectives?

What motivates you to participate in an exchange program?

Remember to bring the following items to the interview: 

  • A current passport

  • A duplicate of the photo you'll be using on your visa

  • SEVIS payment confirmation receipts DS-160 and I-901

  • I-20 form

  • Official standardized test scores, diploma, and transcripts

  • You used bank statements to fill up your college application.

How Can we Support You?

We will give a variety of foreign student resources and visa services to assist you in learning everything you need to know about studying in the United States, including exploring university options, degree options, and preparing for visa interviews.


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