Applying for the J-1 Visa

Prepare for your embassy or consulate visit by following our detailed steps.
Prepare for your embassy or consulate visit by following our detailed steps.
Photo courtesy of InterExchange

Visa application requirements can often change, so it is very important that you follow the most current procedures for J-1 Visa applications at the embassy or consulate where you will apply.

Step 1: Pay the SEVIS Fee

SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, which manages data about international students and exchange visitors in the U.S. It tells the U.S. government where you live, where you work, and your legal status on our Career Training USA program.

Before applying for the J-1 Visa, you must pay the SEVIS fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to cover the SEVIS administration costs. The fee is $180 and is non-refundable.

As an exchange visitor, you are required to pay the SEVIS fee. However, if you are bringing any dependents, they do not have to pay a SEVIS fee.

To pay the SEVIS fee, you must submit Form I-901, using information from your DS-2019 Form.

If you do not pay the SEVIS fee before your embassy or consulate appointment, you will not be considered for a J-1 Visa.

Step 2: Schedule Your Appointment With the Embassy/Consulate

Appointment and application procedures vary by embassy/consulate, so review the instructions for scheduling an appointment on their website.

Note that wait times are longer at certain times of the year and you may be unable to get an appointment before your proposed start date. If this happens, please contact InterExchange immediately to let us know your arrival will be delayed.

Canadian citizens are, in most cases, exempt from an embassy/consulate visit and will not need a J-1 Visa to cross the border into the U.S. The DS-2019 Form, however, must be presented at the border. If you are Canadian, contact your local embassy/consulate to verify their policies.

Step 3: Review and Sign Your DS-2019 Form

The DS-2019 Form is not a visa application form or a J-1 Visa. Instead, it certifies your eligibility and allows you to apply for a J-1 Visa.

Read both sides and thoroughly check the information (e.g. your name, dates). Errors on this form could result in a visa denial. Please inform InterExchange Career Training USA immediately if you discover any errors.

Read the instructions on the back of the form and sign your name at the bottom of page 1 to accept the terms and conditions on page 2. Your signature is an explicit acceptance of the terms of the program. It is your responsibility as a participant of this program to abide by the laws of the federal, state, and local governments of the United States as well as the rules and regulations set forth by InterExchange, your program sponsor.

Keep your DS-2019 Form in good condition throughout the entire visa process and your stay in the U.S.

Step 4: Complete Your Visa Application and Gather Required Documents and Payment

Carefully follow the J-1 Visa application instructions on your home country’s embassy/consulate website. Complete any required application forms and gather any supplemental materials (e.g. proof of ties to home country, proof of sufficient funds, photographs, etc.). You will also need your DS-2019 and DS-7002 Forms.

Although the SEVIS fee is paid prior to your appointment, you will also be required to pay a visa application fee of approximately $160. Additional fees may be required; confirm the exact amounts for your embassy/consulate.

Make copies of your completed application package before submitting it to the embassy/consulate.

Step 5: Apply for Your Visa

Submit the following to the embassy/consulate:

  • Signed DS-2019 Form
  • Signed DS-7002 Form
  • Your passport (valid for at least six months beyond the end date on your DS-2019 Form)
  • Proof of payment of the SEVIS fee and payment or proof of payment of the J-1 Visa fee
  • All visa application forms required by your embassy/consulate
  • Any supporting materials or information required by your embassy/consulate

Step 6: Receive Your Visa

If your J-1 Visa is granted, the embassy/consulate will put the visa sticker in your passport and return it along with your DS-2019 form to you.

Please submit a copy of your visa to InterExchange for our records.

If you are denied a visa, please contact InterExchange immediately to discuss your options for reapplying. In many cases you will be able to reapply and will simply need to bring information that you did not have during your first attempt. Contact us so we can help you decide if you should reapply, and to amend your program dates, if necessary.

Next: U.S. Embassy/Consulate Interviewing Tips »

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation