The J1 visa allows foreign citizens to study, receive training, or teach in the United States. It is the Exchange Visitor visa’s first priority.
Your stay in the United States is temporary with the J1 visa as it is a nonimmigrant visa that can last a few weeks or several years.
This US government offers its exchange visitor visa program through some accredited educational institutions in the United States.
It also addresses young people who cannot access the quality educational services that their countries of origin need for development and growth.
Apart from that, it also aims to encourage skill development among young people and promote cultural exchange. The J1 visa also aims to aid international nationals in developing their English language skills.
Who is eligible for the J1 visa?
There are different categories of J1 visas. The specifications for each category are different. Some of the main categories include:
Seen as equal
You can work as a childcare worker in the United States with the Au Pair J1 visa. This implies that you will work mainly for families. In exchange, you receive room and board expenses. You must meet the following requirements to be eligible for the Au Pair visa:
- You must be between the ages of 18 and 26.
- You must receive a job offer from a family based in the United States
- You must have some experience as a childcare worker.
- Both writing and speaking English are required.
- You must provide a police clearance report
- You have no record in the United States under the A.U. Couple visa
Programs for students
This includes secondary school student visas, and college and university visas.
The Secondary School Student category allows you to study at a school in the United States. You must meet the following requirements to be eligible for this J1 visa category:
- You must be between the ages of 15 and 18.
- You must have accommodation with your school or a host family.
The College & University category allows you to take a full-time course at any university in the United States. You must meet the following
requirements to be eligible for the J1 college and university visa:
You must provide a written agreement between your local institution and the institution in the United States where you will study
You should not receive financial support from anywhere and are fully capable of supporting yourself.
Program for teachers
This J1 visa category allows you to work in the United States as a teacher. During your visit, you can also obtain professional training. You can work as a teacher at a primary school, secondary school, or preschool that is accredited. To participate in the J1 Teachers program you must meet the following requirements:
- You must possess the required teaching credentials in your nation of origin.
- You must already be working as a teacher before your application. Otherwise,
- you must have at least 2 years of teaching experience in the last 8 years and also have acquired an advanced degree in the last 12 months.
- You must possess a minimum of a B.S. in either your subject of study or education overall.
- You must have at least 2 years of experience in teaching or a related profession.
English proficiency is a must.
You must have a good character and a good reputation.
The J1 Trainee program allows you to receive training in the United States and gain exposure. This could be in any field. To be eligible for the Trainee Program visa you must meet the following requirements:
- At least 20 years of age is required.
- You must have a bachelor’s degree or professional certificate from a tertiary institution in your home country. Otherwise, you must have up to 5 years of work experience in your field.
- You must have at least 1 year of work experience in your field.
Documents you will need
The following documents are what you will need to present at the J1 visa interview:
- International passport valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay.
- DS-160 form confirmation page
- Form DS-160 payment receipt
- Passport photographs if you are unable to upload one when applying for Form DS-160.
- SEVIS certificate of eligibility
- DS-7002 Form Confirmation Page for Trainee Candidates
- Proof of financial ability. This involves proof that you or someone else can handle your financial expenses in the United States.
- Proof that you will leave the United States after the program expires. These could be family ties, investments, or property that you cannot abandon in your home country.
- Proof of the purpose of the trip
- Proof of previous employment, if applicable
What is the J1 visa application process?
The first thing to do is find a program sponsor. The official J1 visa website has a list of designated sponsors that you may view. From the list you can sort sponsors by your visa category. The sponsors use various vetting processes.
If a sponsor approves your application, you can apply for a visa. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) will have you as a member. Your sponsor can also help you with your visa application. You mainly need to fill out and submit Form DS-160, the US Nonimmigrant Online Visa Application Form for your application.
To finish the form, just enter all the required information and submit your passport photo. The form will provide you all the information you need to know about your sponsor and program. Specifically, it will include the start and end date of the program and how much you will pay for it.
Trainee program applicants must submit Form DS-7002. The form describes everything you need to do during your training or internship. The DS-7002 form is also an online form. Print the confirmation page after submitting the forms. Next, you have to pay your taxes.
J1 Visa Application Fees
If you don’t pay the costs, the US Department won’t complete your J1 visa application. Typically, the costs you must pay are as follows:
- SEVIS Fee: $180
- Form DS-160 Fee: $160
- You may also pay a visa processing fee if the US Embassy approves your visa.
- This depends on your country of residence. Sometimes, your sponsor may pay the SEVIS fee on your behalf. It is important that you confirm from them, so you will not make the payment twice. If they have it, you should request proof of payment.
You will not pay the J1 visa application fee if you participate in a program funded by the U.S. government, the Department of State, or the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Plus, you won’t pay any origination fees.
Extend your stay
You can extend your J1 visa after it expires, depending on your category. For this, you must complete and submit a new Form DS-190. This new application comes with a fee of $367. Additionally, you must also provide proof of why the extension is necessary.
If your J1 visa expires, you can still stay in the United States for 30 days before exiting. This is known as the grace period. You can no longer participate in the program you came for during this period as you no longer have J1 visa status. The grace period is there to allow you time to prepare and take care of business before you go.