J-1 Visa

J-1 Visa is a non-immigrant US visa which allows individuals to both work and study at the same time. The visa is issued on a temporary basis to individuals who want to visit the US as part of a work and travel program. There are many categories of J-1 Visa which are available to individuals based on their requirements and eligibility criteria. Based on the type of the J-1 Visa program, the applicant will need to find a sponsoring organization to carry out the application process.

J-1 Visa Application

In order to apply for the J-1 Visa program, an applicant is required to follow these steps:

  • Finding a Sponsor - Before applying for the J-1 Visa, the applicant is required to find a sponsoring organisation who can also assist while carrying out the application. The list of designated sponsors can be obtained from the United States Department of State. Based on the applicant’s profile and proficiency in the English language, the sponsor may enrol an applicant to a J-1 Visa program.
  • Applying for the DS-2019 - After finding a sponsorship organisation and obtaining an approval, the applicant is required to submit the completed DS-2019 Form (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status). The form allows the applicant to schedule an interview with the US embassy/consulate. Details such as the description of the exchange program including the program start and end date, cost of the program, etc. are a part of the DS-2019 form.
  • Paying the visa fees - The applicant needs to ensure that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) SEVIS I-901 fee is paid. Depending on the type of the program, either the applicant or the sponsoring organisation is required to pay the visa fee. Once the fee is paid, the applicant is required to obtain the visa fee payment receipt. In addition to the SEVIS I-901 fee, the applicant is also required to pay the non-immigrant visa application processing fee of $160. If the applicant’s program is with the US Government, US Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of State or a US Government-funded educational and cultural exchange program, he/she is not required to pay the non-immigrant visa application processing fee as a part of the J-1 Visa application.
  • Visa interview - After the fee is paid, the applicant will need to schedule an interview with the US embassy/consulate to get the final approval for the visa. Based on the applicant’s location and other factors, it may take a while to get a desired schedule for the interview. Applicants are recommended to initiate the process as early as possible to ensure their travel plans are not affected. During the interview, applicants will be asked certain questions to understand their plans after the completion of the specific program. If the applicant is able to convince the consular that he/she has intentions of returning to the home country after the program ends, there are more chances of getting an approval. Additionally, proof of sufficient funds to support the trip is an essential factor for the visa interview process. When it comes to documents, the applicant is expected to carry the DS-2019 Form, DS-7002 Form (applicable for exchange trainees or intern visa applicants), Form DS-160, copy of Online Application, valid passport (with at least six month of validity after the end of the program, recent photograph (as per the specifications), and other documents based on the applicant’s profile and the program.

J-1 Visa Eligibility

In order to apply for the J-1 Visa, the applicant is required to meet the eligibility criteria based on the category of the programs. Certain programs may require the applicant to appear for the interview, however, it is not applicable to all categories. Following are few of the eligibility factors to qualify for the J-1 Visa program:

  • Proficiency in the English language - The applicant must pass the proficiency test for the English language.
  • Insurance - The applicants and their dependents are required to obtain a medical insurance to be eligible for the application process. Based on the type of the program, the insurance must provide the minimum level of benefits as per the program regulations.
  • J-1 Visa Fees - The following charges are applicable to the J-1 Visa application:
  1. Program fee - Depending on the program category, sponsor organisation, duration of the program, and other factors, a certain amount of program fee will be paid by the applicant, however, if the applicant is going to be a part of a federally funded program, he/she may be exempted from paying the program fee.
  2. SEVIS fee - As a part of the application, the applicant will be required to produce the payment receipt applicable for the form DS-2019. The SEVIS fee is payable to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by either the applicant or the sponsoring organisation based on the category of the program.
  3. Application processing fee - All applicants applying for a non-immigrant visa are required to pay the non-immigrant visa application processing fee. Once the payment is made, the receipt is needed for the interview process. Applicants under the G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-7 category under the form DS-2019 are not required to pay the visa fee.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is form DS-2019?

    Also known as the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status, form DS-2019 allows an applicant to appear for the interview at the US embassy/consulate. It also contains details such as start and end date of the program, program category, cost of the program, etc.

  2. How to get a form DS-2019?

    Form DS-2019 are issued by designated sponsors. Once you have found a sponsor organization, they will guide you through the application process and also help you in completing the form DS-2019.

  3. I have an issue with my form DS-2019, whom should I contact?

    You should contact the sponsoring organization in case of any issue pertaining to form DS-2019.

  4. What are the documents required for the J-1 Visa application?

    The following documents are required for the J-1 Visa application:

    • Form DS-2019
    • Form DS-7002 (if applicable)
    • Form DS-160 (Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application)
    • Passport
    • Photograph
    • Other documents based on the applicant’s profile and category of the program
  5. Is it possible to apply for an extension?

    The sponsoring organisation may extend the program depending on several factors, however, the extension will require a new form DS-2019 to show the new program end date, program fee, etc.

  6. How long does it take for the application to process?

    The application processing speed depends on various factors such as the applicant’s location, the category of program, etc.

  7. How do I apply for the J-1 Visa?

    Once you have obtained the form DS-2019, you can visit the nearest US embassy/consulate to carry out the application.

  8. How soon can I enter the US with a J-1 Visa?

    The applicant should not arrive in more than 30 days in advance from the program start date. Once the program is completed, applicants are required to leave within 30 days from the US.

  9. Can I work in the US with a J-1 Visa?

    Depending on the list of activities mentioned on the form DS-2019, the applicant is allowed to perform only those kind of work.

  10. Will I be paying taxes on my earnings in the US?

    You can reach out to your designated sponsor to find more about taxes.

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