The J1 visa is one of the most complex visas in the US. This visa can be anything from Au pair to Interns to a Student visa and the duration of the visa all depends on the type of program. This visa is divided in to two sectors, private sector and Government and academic sector. So here is the steps for how to apply for J1 visa.
Step 1 – Find a sponsor
When you apply for a J1 visa you will need to find a designated sponsor to accept you into their program when applying for a J1 visa. Their physical location doesn’t matter, many of these sponsors can place participants throughout the US. Keep in mind that many sponsors screen their participants and look for those with good English language skills. So your sponsor can also help you with your application for the J1 visa. The US Department of State has the official list of designated sponsors. The list of designated sponsors.
Step 2 – Apply for the DS-2019
Once you have been approved by a sponsor, the next step is to submit the DS-2019 Form, also known as the “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor J1 Status”. This form is the official documents used by the US Department of State that will permit you to get an interview with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you will be accompanied by a family member, they will also be given a separate DS-2019 form. This two-page form is issued by your sponsor and will include a description of the exchange program, including the start and end date, as well as the cost of the program, with a breakdown on financial support.
Step 3 – Pay your fees
You or your sponsor will be required to pay a SEVIS I-901 fee to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as part of your J1 visa application if your sponsor pay for this fee it may already be part of your program fees to your sponsor. It’s important to check with your sponsor to confirm whether it will be paid by you or by your sponsor. Make sure to get the proof of payment from your sponsor if they pay your SEVIS fee.
You will be required to pay another fee that is the Non-immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee, which is $160. You can pay it by visiting the Department of State’s Fees for Visa Services. Those participants who are part of a program with the US Government, Department of State, US Agency for International Development (USAID), or a US Government funded educational and cultural exchange program do not have to pay Non-immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee as part of their J-1 visa application.
Step 4 – Interview with a US Embassy or Consulate
For you to get your J1 visa application accepted, you will need to have final approval by having an interview at a US embassy or consulate by a Consular officer. Depending on your location the waiting time for an appointment can vary. It’s important to schedule an appointment early to ensure that you have enough time before your departure to the US and before your program begins.
At the interview, you will be asked about the program, your intentions after the program, how you plan to cover your expenses, etc. It is important to have proof/ties that you will return to your home country after completing the program. Be prepared to show your binding ties to your home country and bring any documentation that can further show your ties in your home country. If you are traveling with a spouse and/or child, you can schedule an appointment for those family members who will be accompanying you. It is a very easy interview just be prepared with your ties and don’t stress to much, 99% of the time you will get approved.
Example of ties
- Proof of property or car (must be registered in your name).
- Proof of a employment after completing your program in the US.
- Acceptance to a University or College after completing your program in the US.
**If you work through an agency you don’t have worry about step 1 and 2. The agency will do that for you. I recommend working through an agency. It will make the process a lot easier and less stressful.
J1 Visa Duration
J1 Visa Student Program
The student program is divided into two categories, Collage and University student program and Secondary School student program.
If you choose the Collage and University Student Program, most students can stay for the duration of their program and an additional 18 months of practical training of any employment related to their field of study. So this is all up to the student if they want to stay the additional 18 months. For more info
If you choose the Secondary School Student Program you must be between the age of 15 and 18.5 by the first day of the program. This Program allows you to stay for 12 months. You are not allow to accept US employment except odd jobs like baby sitting or yard work. For more info
J1 Visa Au Pair Program
The Au pair program is perfect for a young individual between the age of 18 and 26 and want to take a gap year and become more independent. The duration of this program is usually 12 months. I have friends that stayed for 24 months, but it all depend on your sponsor/host family. For more info Intern Program
With the Intern Program you are allowed to work for 12 months with a US employer while in the midst of a degree in your home country or within a year of graduation. For more info
J1 Visa Summer/Winter Work Traveler Program
A lot of people think this programs is only for the Summer season, but it’s not, it’s for the Winter season too. The Summer/Winter Work Traveler Program is for the Post secondary education students to work and travel the US for up to 4 months. This must be arranged through a sponsor. For more info.
J1 Visa Camp Counselor Program
This program is for Youth Workers and you can work as a Camp Counselor at a Summer camp for up to 4 months. This program is only available during the Summer season. For more info.
J1 Visa Short-term Scholar Program
The Professors and other academics participating in Short-Term activities, such as workshops, conferences, study tours, Seminars or professional meetings, may stay up to six months on a J-1 visa under the Short-term Scholar Program. For more info
J1 Visa Foreign Medical grad student Program
When foreign medical grad Students may be issued a J-1 visas for the duration necessary to complete their training programs, up to a maximum of seven years (with limited exceptions), plus 30 days in which to prepare to depart the US. For more info.
J1 Visa Teacher, Professor, Research Scholar and People with Specialized Skill Programs
Exchange visitors who are teachers, professors, research scholars or people with specialized skills may be issued a J1 visas for up to a maximum of five years, plus 30 days to prepare to depart the US. For more info on Teachers and Professors and Research Scholars
J1 Visa International Visitor Program
International visitors who want to enter to the US to promote cultural exchange, such as those working in places like the cultural/ethnic pavilions of Disney’s Epcot Center, may be issued a J1 visas for maximum duration of 12 months, plus 30 days to prepare to depart the US. People qualifying under this category may, alternatively qualify for Q visas. For more info.
J1 Visa Government Visitor Program
Visitors may be invited by the U.S. government to participate in exchanges that strengthen the professional and personal ties between two foreign nationals and the United States and U.S. institutions. They may be issued a J1 visas for the duration necessary to complete the program, but for a maximum duration of 18 months. For more info.
For a little bit more in sight on the J1 visa, see my other post here.
Enjoy and Safe Travels!!
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Xolisile Makhubu · May 2, 2021 at 12:00 am
My Name is Xolisile Makhubu
I have worked on several 5 star hotels in South Africa that include holiday Inn, Zimbali, Birchwood and Sandton. I have also completed my J1 at Broadmore Colorado Springs in Massachutess and Chatham bars inn. I have worked for a year in United States and I have 6 years comprehensive experience as a chef in different departments. I hope to be considered for any suitable position in your establishment.
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