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

Please follow the steps below as you prepare to apply for your J-1 Visa. Visa application requirements can change over time and vary by country, so it is very important that you also follow the most current application procedures for the J-1 Visa at the embassy or consulate where you will apply.

NOTE: Canadian citizens are exempt from an embassy/consulate visit and will not need a J-1 Visa to cross the border into the U.S. If you are a Canadian citizen, please refer to the details provided at the bottom of this page.

Step 1: Print and Sign Your DS-2019 and DS-7002 Forms

Once you receive your approval email from InterExchange, you will be able to download and print your DS-2019 and DS-7002 from your InterExchange portal. Remember, 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 documents thoroughly and check that the information is accurate (e.g. your name, dates). Errors on these forms could result in a visa denial. Please inform InterExchange Career Training USA immediately if you discover any errors.

Print your DS-2019 and DS-7002. Printed versions of these forms are required; the embassy will not accept digital versions on your phone or via email.

Once printed, sign your name at the bottom of the DS-2019 Form under Exchange Visitor Certification on the first page. Your signature is an explicit acceptance of the terms and conditions of the program listed on page 2 of the form. Your DS-7002 was signed electronically and does not need another signature.

Keep your printed DS-2019 Form in good condition throughout the entire visa process and your stay in the U.S. Contact InterExchange if this form is ever lost or stolen.

Step 2: Receive Your SEVIS ID and print your SEVIS fee payment receipt

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 intern or train, and your legal status on the Career Training USA program.

Before applying for the J-1 Visa, you will receive an email from InterExchange that includes your SEVIS ID number, as well as instructions on how to retrieve your SEVIS fee payment receipt. All applicants must pay the SEVIS fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to cover the SEVIS administration costs. InterExchange will submit your payment on your behalf, and it is non-refundable once payment has been submitted. The fee is $220, and this is already included in your program fees. Please be sure to print the SEVIS fee payment receipt as you will be required to show this at the embassy.

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

Step 3: Complete the DS-160 Online Application

Once you’ve reviewed your approval email and documents, head to the Department of State’s Consular Electronic Application Center to fill-in and submit the DS-160 Non-immigrant visa application. Watch our video below for tips on how to complete your DS-160 Application:

NOTE: The Department of State requires all Visa Applicants to submit their social media handles (including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) on their DS-160 Applications. A response to the questions related to social media is required. However, the form does allow the applicant to respond with “None.”

Applicants should complete the application fully and honestly as failure to provide accurate and truthful responses on a visa application or during a visa interview may result in denial of the visa by a consular officer. At present, you will not be asked for your passwords or to update any of your current privacy settings.

Step 4: Schedule Your Appointment with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate

After you’ve completed the DS-160 visa application, you will then need to schedule your embassy appointment. Appointment and application procedures vary by embassy/consulate, so be sure to review the instructions for scheduling an appointment on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply for your visa. Typical appointment scheduling procedures are as follows:

  1. Review the application instructions on the nonimmigrant visa page of the embassy’s website.
  2. Navigate to the embassy’s scheduling website. The appointment scheduling and fee collection websites for most embassies can be found on either the Official U.S. Department of State Visa Appointment Service website or on USTravelDocs.
  3. Pay the required visa application fee.
  4. Schedule your appointment. Review current embassy wait times for visa interviews and processing.

IMPORTANT: 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 review the information below on requesting an expedited appointment with the embassy.

Request an Emergency/Expedited Interview Appointment at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate

If U.S. Embassy/Consulate interview wait times in your home country are longer than usual or if there are no available appointments before the program start date on your DS-2019, you may have the option to request an emergency/expedited appointment. Instructions and qualifications for requesting an emergency appointment vary by embassy. Please visit the embassy’s website for specific requirements, but we’ve outlined the usual steps below.

  1. Complete the DS-160 Visa Application and pay the visa application fee.
  2. Schedule an appointment online for the earliest available date. Typically you’re required to have an appointment scheduled before you can request an expedited date.
  3. Contact the embassy to request an expedited appointment, following your embassy’s specific instructions for submitting this request. Instructions for making an expedited appointment request are typically found in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Official U.S. Department of State Visa Appointment Service website. If your country is not listed on the link above, instructions may be available at USTravelDocs. NOTE: For emergency appointment qualifications, J-1 Intern/Trainee Visas typically fall under the “student or exchange visitors category.”
  4. Wait for a response from the embassy.

The decision to grant or deny an emergency appointment request is at the discretion of the embassy, and often depends on the availability of embassy resources. If you are denied an emergency appointment, you are typically required to keep your initial appointment date. However, you should continue to monitor the embassy’s scheduling website to see if any earlier non-emergency appointments become available.

Contact InterExchange if your emergency appointment is denied and your arrival in the U.S. will be delayed.

Step 5: Attend Your U.S. Embassy Interview

Before you attend your interview, review our tips on how to prepare for your embassy interview!

Remember to bring with you the following documents to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate:

  • Signed, printed DS-2019 Form
  • Signed, printed DS-7002 Form
  • Your passport (be sure to check the validity requirements for your country)
  • Printed 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 to you, along with your DS-2019 Form, in approximately 5-7 business days.

If you are denied a visa, please contact InterExchange immediately to discuss your options for reapplying and to amend your program dates, if necessary. 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.

Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens are exempt from an embassy/consulate interview and will not need a J-1 Visa to enter the U.S. Follow the steps below to prepare for your trip to the U.S.

  1. Review and follow steps 1 & 2 above. Please be sure to print and sign your DS-2019 Form. You will also need to print your DS-7002 and SEVIS fee payment receipt.
  2. Present your printed documents to customs officials when entering the U.S.

A J-1 Visa is not required for Canadian citizens. However, when entering the U.S. to begin your program, you will need to present printed copies of your DS-2019, DS-7002, and SEVIS fee payment receipt. Customs officials will review these documents along with your passport before granting you admission to the U.S. under J-1 status.

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

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation