J1 Visa Program
- for Practical Work Training / Internships
The J1 visa Program is for foreign nationals who want to participate in an exchange visitor program / internship program in the USA.
The J1 visa is intended for students needing practical training that is not available in their home country to complete their academic program. The training must be directly related to the academic program.
The J1 visa obligates the student to return to their home country for a minimum of two years after the end of their studies in the USA before being eligible to apply for an immigrant (permanent residence) visa.
The Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The internet website for information on the Exchange Visitor Program is
At the conclusion of their program Exchange Visitor program participants are expected to return to the home countries to utilize the experience and skills they have acquired while in the United States.
Designated sponsoring organizations facilitate the entry of foreign nationals into the United States as exchange visitors to complete the objectives of one of the exchange visitor program categories, which are:
International Visitor (reserved for U.S. Department of State use)
Each category of exchange has specific requirements and regulations.
Qualifying for an Exchange Visitor Visa
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is very specific with regard to the requirements, which must be met by applicants to qualify for the exchange visitor (J) visa. The consular officer will determine whether you qualify for the visa. Applicants must demonstrate that they properly meet the requirements to be issued an exchange visitor visa, including the following:
That they plan to remain in the U.S. for a temporary, specific, limited period;
Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States;
Evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad; and other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.
What is SEVIS and SEVP? What should you know about it?
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is designed to help the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State better monitor school and exchange programs and F, M and J category visitors. Exchange visitor and student information is maintained in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is an Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F and M visa), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2). SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit mandatory information and event notifications via the Internet, to the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State (DOS) throughout a student or exchange visitor's stay in the United States. Select
to go to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Internet site and learn more.
All exchange visitor applicants must have a SEVIS generated DS 2019 issued by a Department of State designated sponsor, which they submit when they are applying for their exchange visitor visa. The consular officer will need to verify your DS 2019 record electronically through the SEVIS system in order to process your exchange visitor visa application to conclusion. Unless otherwise exempt, participants whose SEVIS DS-2019 was issued on or after September 1, 2004 must pay a SEVIS I-901 Fee to the Department of Homeland Security for each individual program. The fee may be paid either through a special web site, via Western Union, or by mail. See
for further information on how to pay the fee.
Applying for an Exchange Visitor Visa - Required Documentation
As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by embassy or consulate. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide is available on our website at
Visa Wait Times
, and on most embassy websites. If you are authorized by your sponsor to be accompanied by your spouse (husband or wife) and children, they will also be given a Form DS-2019 and they can apply at the same time. During the visa application process, usually at the interview, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be quickly taken. Some applicants will need additional screening, and will be notified when they apply. You may apply for your visa at an Embassy or Consulate any time before the beginning of your exchange program.
Each visa applicant must submit these forms and documentation, and submit fees as explained below:
DS 2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. You will need to submit a SEVIS generated Form, DS-2019, which was provided to you by your program sponsor. All exchange visitors, including their spouses and dependents must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), an Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on non-immigrant students and exchange visitors and their dependents (J-2 visa holders). Your p rogram sponsor is responsible for entering your information for the DS 2019 Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status into SEVIS. Exchange visitors not part of a U.S. Government-sponsored program will also have to pay a Sevis I-901 fee for each program. Questions regarding your exchange program should be directly to your program sponsor.
A Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002. All exchange visitor (J visa) trainee or intern visa applicants with DS-2019 forms dated on or after July 19, 2007 (based on Box 7 on form) must also present Training/Internship Placement Plan,
when applying for your visa. If your Form DS-2019 is issued prior to July 19, 2007 a Form DS-7002 is not required. For more information about the new rules for trainee and intern programs, see the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Exchange Visitor Program,
Private Sector Programs
An application, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, completed and signed. The DS-156 must be the March 2006 date, electronic "e-form application." Select
Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-156
to access the electronic version of the DS-156.
A Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157 provides additional information about your travel plans. Submission of this completed form is required for all male applicants between 16-45 years of age. It is also required for all applicants from state sponsors of terrorism age 16 and over, irrespective of gender, without exception. Five countries are now designated as state sponsors of terrorism, including North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Sudan, and Iran.
Select Special Processing Procedures
to learn more. You should know that a consular officer may require any nonimmigrant visa applicant to complete this form. Here is
A Contact Information and Work History, Form DS-158, completed.
A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States (unless
provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must complete an application;
What are the Required Visa Fees?
Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee - Each applicant for a visitor visa must pay a nonrefundable US $100 nonimmigrant visa application processing fee.
Visa issuance fee Additionally, if the visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. Please consult the
Visa Reciprocity Tables
to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and the fee amount. If there is a fee for issuance for the visa, it is equal as nearly as possible to the fee charged to United States citizens by the applicant's country of nationality.
It is important that you refer to the Embassy Consular Section website to determine visa processing timeframes and instructions, learn about interview scheduling, and find out if there are any additional documentation items required. Learn more by contacting the
Embassy Consular Section.
Applicants must demonstrate to the consular officer that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country which they have no intention of abandoning, and that they are coming to the United States for a temporary period. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since applicants' circumstances vary greatly
Spouses and Children
Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal exchange visitor (J) visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require exchange visitor visas (derivative J visas). The application procedure is the same as that for a primary visa applicant. The sponsor must approve the accompaniment of the spouse and/or children and who will each be issued their own Form DS-2019. This form is used to obtain the required visa and the spouse and dependents can enter the U.S. at the same time as the principal exchange visitor or at a later date.
Work - The spouse and/or children of an exchange visitor in the U.S. may not work in J-2 status. If employment is desired, the appropriate work visa will be required. Before they can work, they must make an application to DHS, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and be approved for permission to work. They must file Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with the USCIS office that serves the area where they live for a work permit (employment authorization document). To learn more, select
Do I Get a Work Permit (Employment Authorization Document)?
to go to the USCIS Website.
Study- The spouse and/or children of an exchange visitor visa holder who are in the U.S. on an exchange visitor visa may study in the U.S. without also being required to apply for a student (F-1) visa or change to F-1 status.
Spouses and/or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for
visitor (B-2) visas,
or if qualified, travel without a visa under the
Visa Waiver Program.
Family Members Following to Join the Exchange Visitor
The spouse and children can also apply for visas after the principal applicant has already traveled. In general, they must present the following:
Form DS 2019, SEVIS generated, and approved by the sponsor
Proof that the principal applicant (the person who received the DS-2019 or IAP-66) is maintaining his/her J visa status
Copy of the J-1's (principal applicant's) visa
Proof of relationship to the principal applicant
Proof of sufficient money to cover all expenses in the United States
Spouses and children of exchange visitors may not enter the United States before the principal visitor enters for the first time.
Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement
An exchange visitor is subject to INA 212(e) requirement, if the following conditions exist:
The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the United States government or the government of the exchange visitor's nationality or last residence;
The exchange visitor is a national or resident of a country designated as requiring the services of persons engaged in the field of specialized knowledge or skills in which the exchange visitor was engaged for the duration of their program (Exchange Visitor Skills List 9 FAM 41.62, Exhibit II);
The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training.
If the exchange visitor is subject to INA 212(e) requirement, he or she cannot change his or status to that of H, L, K, or immigrant lawful permanent resident (LPR) until he or she has returned to his/her home country for at least two-years or received a waiver of that requirement. Such waivers can be obtained under five separate bases: No Objection Statement, Exceptional Hardship or Persecution, Conrad Program, or Interested Government Agency. For information, see
Waiver of the J Visa Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement 212(e).
Can I Enter on a Visitor Visa (B visa) and Change Status to an Exchange Visitor Program (J visa)?
If you want an earlier entry in the U.S. (more than 30 days prior to the course start date), you must qualify for, and obtain a visitor visa; however, this is strongly discouraged. If you travel to the U.S. on a visitor visa, before beginning an exchange program, you must obtain a change of visa classification from the B status to that of J. You must file
, Application for Change of Nonimmigrant Status, with application fee, and also submit the required Form DS-2019 to the Department of Homeland Security office where the application is made. Please be aware that you cannot start your exchange visitor program until the change of status is approved, and therefore in view of the processing time to your change status in the U.S., you may be in danger of missing your entire exchange program waiting approval of change of status.