A J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is a nonimmigrant visa for individuals that participate in exchange programs offered in the United States. An exchange program is a program in which students travel abroad to study, teach, or receive job training. The U.S. participates in the exchange program in order to promote cultural awareness with international countries. There are a variety of exchange visitor programs, including:
- Au Pair (nanny)
- Camp Counselor
- College Student or Intern
- Research Assistant
Am I Eligible for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa?
Before you can apply for a J-1 exchange Visitor Visa, you must be accepted to one of the approved exchange programs. Once you have been accepted, you may apply for a J-1 visa if you:
- Plan to come to the U.S. to participate in the exchange program
- Are able to financially support your stay in the U.S.
- Can understand English well enough to participate in the program
- Plan to return to you native country once your visa expires
How Do I Apply?
To apply for the J-1 visa, you must first submit your DS-160 application online. After submitting your application you are required to schedule an interview with your local U.S. Embassy and Consulate. Be sure to pay visa application fee and SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee before your interview. The U.S. Consulate will tell you to bring certain documents with you to prove you are eligible for the visa.
When Does the J-1 Visa Expire?
The length of time you are allowed to stay in the U.S. will depend on your particular program. Some programs take longer to complete than others. For example, teachers and professors are allowed to stay for up to 5 years while interns are only allowed to stay for up to 12 months. Some programs also allow for you to extend your stay.