The United States welcomes foreign citizens who come to the United States to participate in exchange programs. Before applying for a visa, all exchange visitor applicants are required to be accepted and approved by an authorized program sponsor. When accepted, the applicant will receive from the educational institution or program sponsors the necessary approval documentation to be submitted when applying for a visa.
The exchange visitor program’s J visa is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences. Participants include students at all academic levels; trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies; teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools; professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning; research scholars; professional trainees in the medical and allied fields; and international visitors coming for the purpose of travel, observation, consultation, research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs.
Spouses or unmarried children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder of a J-1 visa to the United States for the duration of his or her stay must have J-2 visas. Spouses or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but who will visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas.
The spouse and/or child of an exchange visitor in the United States may not work while holding a J-2 visa unless they have filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must have reviewed the Form I-765 and given permission to the J-2 holder to work. The USCIS website has a PDF document titled “Employment Authorization” that has more information.
To apply for a J visa, you must submit the following:
- A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 web page for more information about the DS-160.
- A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
- One (1) 2″x2″ (51x51mm) photograph taken within the last six months. This web page has information about the required photo format.
- Unless your J program is sponsored by the United States Government (with a program code beginning with a “G”), you must present a receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This web page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
- An approved DS-2019 from your U.S. program.
Unless your J program is sponsored by the United States Government (with a program code beginning with a “G”), you must pay your Form I-901 SEVIS fee. The SEVIS website has more information.
We remind all students (F-1 or M-1) and exchange visitor (J-1) visa applicants that in addition to the visa application fee, they must also pay a SEVIS fee before their interview. Information about SEVIS fee can be found on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s website. Additionally, they must bring financial documents showing sufficient funds for their first year of study.
In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.