What is a J-1 (Student) Visa?
J-1 Visa Summary
- J-1 visa is for exchange program applicants
- J-2 visa for J-1 applicant’s spouse or children under the age of 21
- Applicant must file:
- DS 2019
- Interview at U.S. consulate or embassy is required
- $100 processing fee
- Approval usually takes six weeks
What is the J-1 Visa?
The J-1 visa is for individuals participating in exchange or training programs. The program was enacted to promote international goodwill through cultural exchange. U.S. J-1 visa holders can partake in various types of programs, including government, academic or private sector programs.
Examples of J-1 Visa Programs:
- Au pair and EduCare
- Camp counselor
- Government visitor
- International visitor (Dept. of State use)
- Professor and research scholar
- Short-term scholar
- Student, college/university
- Student, secondary
- Summer work travel
More than 170,000 visitors participate in the J-1 visa program each month. The length of stay granted to J-1 visa holders depends on the particular program that they participate in. J-1 visa extensions that enable visa holders to remain in the United States for a longer period of time are sometimes permitted. Some J-1 visa holders are subject to two-year home residency requirements. Those who are subject to this requirement cannot become permanent residents, change their status in the United States, or get family-based or certain work-based visas unless they return to their native country for two years. They cannot return to a country other than their native country. J-1 visa holders may be subject to the two-year residency requirement if:
- The J-1 program gets funding from an international organization, from the applicant’s home government, or from the U.S. government,
- The J-1 visa holder studied or worked in a specialized field that is in demand in their home country and is listed on the Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Skills List, or
- The J-1 visa holder participated in an Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) medical training program.
J-1 Visa Requirements
There are several requirements that applicants must meet to obtain a J-1 visa. Applicants must partake in a program run by a designated sponsor organization. Designated sponsors include organizations such as universities, private businesses, or the governmental bodies that administer individual J-1 exchange programs. Each of these programs has its own set of specific criteria that applicants must satisfy. All J-1 visa participants must be proficient enough in English to meet the requirements of their particular program. Applicants are also required to have sufficient medical insurance and must provide all appropriate program fees. These fees can include those required by the individual sponsor program, Department of Homeland Security fees, processing fees, as well as applicable visa insurance fees. The fee amount varies depending on the specific programs that the applicant participates in.
J-1 Visa Application Process
The application process begins by obtaining a Form DS-2019 from the program sponsor. This form will indicate the duration of the program, purpose of the program, funds associated with the program and if the applicant is subjected to the two-year home residency requirement through their participation in the program. Once the DS-2019 is obtained, J-1 visa applicants apply for a visa to enter the United States through a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. J-1 visas are non-immigrant visas granted for a temporary period of time. J-1 visa holders can apply for another visa type that could lead to permanent residency, but they cannot travel while doing so, unless granted permission pursuant to their application or until they get their green card. J-1 visa holder’s spouse and children under 21 are eligible to receive J-2 dependent status that permits them to accompany their family member to the United States and apply for work authorization. The processing time for the J-1 visa program depends on the country that the applicant applies from, although it usually takes six weeks or less.