J1 Visa: Eligibility, Application and US J1 Visa Requirements Explained
The United States is one of the most welcoming countries in the world to international students.
Thousands of exchange students apply for various programs in the USA every year.
From graduation, post-graduation, PhD to short-term programs, the US grants visas for several educational purposes.
In its wide categories of visas, the J1 visa in the USA is issued to students or candidates aspiring to go to the US for a work/study-based exchange program.
If you are checking up for a J1 visa in the USA or need clarity about a J1 visa USA, this blog covers all the details you might need.
Everything You Need to Know About J1 Visa USA: What is a J1 Visa in the USA?
The J1 visa USA or the exchange visitor visa is a non-immigrant visa for foreigners who wish to take part in a work-study-based exchange and visitor program in the US.
To get a J1 visa USA, your desired program must be approved by the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The J1 visa-holder students are typically sponsored by an educational or nonprofit institution.
The J1 visa as mentioned above is issued to students/candidates participating in exchange programs.
The various programs that are listed for a J1 visa by the US Dept of State and travel are as follows:
- Au Pair
- Camp Counselor
- College and University Student
- Government visitor
- International Visitor
- Research Scholar
- Short-term Scholar
- Summer work travel
- Secondary school student
- STEM Initiatives
So, it is safe to say that if you are enrolled in any of the sponsored courses mentioned above, a flight to the US awaits you.
Speaking of the validity of the J1 visa in USA, the duration of the visa lasts as long as your exchange program, which might last for 3 months to 3 years.
For example, a degree student could stay in the country for three to four years. Whereas camp counsellors and summer workers could be in the country for about 4 months.
The reason the tenure of a J1 visa USA is emphasized is that one of the primary requirements of obtaining a J1 visa USA for international candidates entails that they move to their home country after the completion of their course or any other exchange program.
Furthermore, J1 visa USA candidates are required to live in their home country or out of the US for at least two years after their return.
On doing so, you will be granted another visa status on your return to the US.
Note: This requirement under immigration law is based on Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
However, in case of emergencies or special circumstances pertaining to the need of returning to your home country, this requirement may be waived.
To further understand the US J1 visa requirements, let us read the next section.
US J1 Visa Requirements: DS-2019 Form, Eligibility, Documents, etc
The foremost US J1 visa requirement is to be admitted into a SEVP-approved institute.
The approved institute or sponsor offers you a DS-2019 form, an essential US J1 visa requirement.
The DS-2019 form or the ‘Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (J1)’ is the primary document required in the administration of the exchange visitor program.
The DS-2019 form permits an exchange student or visitor to seek an interview at a US embassy or consulate in order to obtain a J1 visa USA to enter the country.
The US J1 visa requirement, the DS-2019 form contains a detailed description of the exchange student’s program including the start date, end date, exchange program details, and other information such as the estimated cost etc.
Therefore, with the help of the DS-2019 form the exchange students and their sponsors are easily identified by the consulate.
In addition to this, keep in mind that the DS-2019 form must remain valid at all times. In case of expiry, a request for a DS-2019 extension must be made prior to its expiration date to avoid any legal mishaps.
Note: It is strictly advised to all exchange students/candidates that allowing the DS-2019 to expire before you complete your academic program violates J-1 status.
US J1 Visa Eligibility and Requirements
As there are a number of programs for which international students require a US J1 visa, the eligibility for each of these programs differs.
Nonetheless, the common eligibility criteria for any international applicant to apply for the US J1 visa are:
- IELTS/TOEFL cleared
- Have experience related to the field of study or work
- Must have completed a degree
- Good academic merit/background
After you satisfy the eligibility, to get your process started for the US J1 visa you also need to have your documents handy.
Documents required for US J1 Visa
As mentioned above, the DS-2019 form is the first document you will need to get the ball running.
The other documents you need to support the DS-2019 form for the US J1 visa are:
- DS-7002 Form for training or internship placement applicants (to be issued by sponsor)
- Form DS-160, online non-immigrant visa application
- A valid passport with a validity of six months after the intended period of stay
- Recent passport photographs
In addition to these, as part of the US J1 visa requirement, applicants/exchange students are required to have health insurance for themselves and anyone who is accompanying them.
The cost of health insurance in the US might cost you approximately about $200-$650/ month.
Applying for J1 Visa USA: The Application Process of US J1 Visa
The US J1 visa application is one of the easiest to apply to. The process of applying for your J1 visa USA is quite simple, just follow the steps mentioned
Step 1: Issue of the form
The sponsor institute issues the DS-2019 form and Ds-7002 form. To get the form issued quickly, you must work diligently with your sponsors. The information on the DS-2019 forms is completed by the sponsor before handing over to the applicant.
Step 2: Fill up the form
Carefully fill up the J1 visa form, making sure you have entered all the correct information with regards to your course, purpose, personal details, etc.
Step 3: Applying for the J1 visa
While applying for the J1 visa, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee, which costs about $350 (₹28,944.82). It is a mandatory fee for all international students.
The cost of the US J1 visa fee is $160 (₹13,165.85).
Along with the fees and SEVIS fee, all the necessary documents must be submitted while applying for the J1 visa.
Your application will then be verified by the officials at the consulate during the personal interview.
Step 4: The Interview
The interview at the embassy is the final step. Here, the officer will ask questions with respect to your program of study or work. In addition to that, you must be ready to justify your financial support too.
Make sure that you express your intention of coming back to your home country clearly after your course.
Tip: Schedule the visa interview in advance as the visa processing takes time.
Like any other US visa, the J1 visa also allows dependents such as spouses and children to travel with the J1 visa holder.
But, before we move into the details of the J2 visa, let us quickly look at the expenses you will have to spend on a J1 visa.
J1 Visa USA Cost: How much does it cost to get a J1 visa?
Now that we have covered everything you need to know about the J1 visa in USA, here are all the expenses you will endure in the process:
J1 visa fee
₹16,411.65 – ₹53,337.86
Form I-765 filing fee
J1 Visa USA Employment:
J1 visa students are not permitted to work full-time in the US.
International students with a J1 visa can work part-time on-campus/off-campus.
To work part-time, international students need work permits from their respective universities.
Even if J1 visa holders are allowed to work, the high competition makes it difficult for visa holders to find a job.
The J1 visa allows students to work 20 hours a week during the semesters and full-time during vacations.
As a J1 visa holder, you will have to pay taxes on your income.
Further, to work off-campus, international students must seek permissions from their exchange program coordinator.
Now that you’ve understood all the particulars of a J1 visa, it should be easy to compile documents and manage your finances for your education as well as all the accompanying expenses.
If you wish to secure your J1 visa finances FundRight can help you with that.
Opting for any exchange programs listed in the J1 visa category will provide a lifetime of experiential benefits and be truly exposed to an environment like no other.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is a J1 visa in USA? Is it different from an M1 visa?
Ans: The US J1 visa is a non immigrant exchange visitor visa for exchange students who are in a learning/working program. Whereas, the M1 visa is issued to students of vocational or non-academic courses in the USA.
- How can a DS-2019 form be obtained?
Ans: The designated sponsors are to issue the form to exchange students/visitors. They are also responsible for assisting you with any queries and doubts.
- Can the J2 visa holder stay longer than the J1 visa holder in the US?
Ans: The J2 visa holder can stay in the US only for the intended duration of the program of the J1 visa holder.
- Can a J1 visa holder enter the US earlier?
Ans: The J1 US visa holder cannot enter the country earlier than 30 days before the program start date. A separate visa has to be applied for if a student wants to enter earlier.
- Can the J1 visa exchange’s education be supported by the J2 visa holder?
Ans: Although the J2 US visa holders are permitted to work in the US, their income cannot be used to support or finance the education of the J1 US visa holder.