Preparing for you U.S. Embassy/Consulate Interview
Nearly all Career Training USA participants will be required to interview at the embassy/consulate in order to receive a J-1 Visa.
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. Review our guide for Canadian citizens. Citizens of all other countries must attend an in-person interview, and you can prepare for your interview using the following tips:
Tip #1: Gather all required documents
Bringing all the required documents to the embassy or consulate is the most important thing you can do to ensure your interview goes smoothly. Most embassies will cancel your appointment without refunding the $185 fee if you have not brought all your documents with you.
It is vital that you also read the requirements listed on the website for the U.S. Embassy where you will be applying, as these requirements are subject to change and may vary by location. At a minimum, though, you’ll need to bring the following documents to your interview:
- DS-2019 Form
- DS-7002 Training/Internship Training Plan
- Current passport, be sure to check the validity requirements for your country
- DS-160 Confirmation Page
- SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
- 5 x 5 centimeter (2 x 2 inch) color photo of yourself taken within the past six months (if required by the embassy)
- Proof of funds for the duration of your stay in the U.S.
- Proof of home country ties (see below tip)
- Other documents as required by the embassy
Tip #2: Show ties to your home country
Consular officers are required to assume that all non-immigrant visa applicants are intending to immigrate to the U.S., so you’ll need to prove that you plan to return home after your program.
You must show compelling ties to your home country, such as:
- Family members who still live in your hometown
- University classes to attend after your program
- Acceptance letter from a new degree program in your home country
- A job offer lined up after you return
- Bank statements showing financial assets in your home country
- Proof of property ownership
- Anything else that indicates your clear intention to leave the U.S. at the end of your program.
This can vary greatly from country to country and consular officer to consular officer; it’s a good idea to bring this kind of documentation with you so that you will be prepared to present it if needed.
Tip #3: Practice your English skills
Your embassy interview will be in English – not in your native language. Consular officers will be looking to see if you possess proficient English skills so that you will be successful on your program.
It would be best to practice your English daily, preferably with a fluent speaker, in preparation for your U.S. experience. This practice will also help you prepare for your interview!
Tip #4: Dress nicely & arrive early
Remember to dress nicely. You don’t need to wear a suit, but it is highly encouraged that you wear neat, clean clothes since first impressions can mean a lot. We also recommend arriving at the embassy early.
You may want to bring some water and a book in case you have a long wait. However, be sure to check the entry requirements on the embassy’s website. Some embassies do not allow backpacks or large electronics into the building.
Tip #5: Interview alone
It is important that you do not bring parents, family members, or friends with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family or friends. If you are unwilling to speak on your own behalf, consular officers may feel that it is not your own decision to travel to the United States or that you are not independent enough to participate in a cultural exchange program, and you will be denied a visa.
If you will be bringing a dependent on a J-2 Visa, however, they should accompany you to your interview.
Tip #6: Know the purpose and goals of the J-1 Visa
Be sure that you understand the purpose of the J-1 Intern/Trainee Visa. The Career Training USA program is a cultural exchange program, not a work program or pathway to immigration. While visiting friends or family in the U.S. and practicing English may be additional benefits of this visa, the primary purpose of your program is to experience U.S. culture and receive practical training related to your academic studies or occupational field.
Tip #7: Relax and answer questions directly
Walking into your interview can be nerve-racking, but it’s important to maintain your composure! The most important thing to remember on your interview day is to be polite and honest. Once it is your turn to interview, you will usually submit your documents at one window and then be asked to move to another window or room for your interview. If your documents are in order, your interview is more likely to go smoothly and quickly. Try not to be nervous and remain calm! Listen to the question asked and respond accordingly. Answer the consular officer’s questions as best you can, and don’t try to prepare speeches for the interview. You want to come across as authentic as possible!
Some of the questions participants have been asked in the past include:
- What will you be doing in the U.S.?
- Tell us about any previous visits to the U.S.
- What are your plans for when you return home after your program?
Post-Interview Next Steps
After the interview, the consular official will generally let you know whether your J-1 visa will be granted. If you’ve been successful, the embassy will generally keep your passport and other documentation. They will return your passport to you within 5 to 7 business days with your J-1 visa sticker inside.
If your interview was not successful, the consular official will let you know that your visa request has been denied. They will generally provide you with a letter stating the reason for the denial but you should also ask the consular official for the specific reason before you leave the interview. They will also let you know if you have the option to re-apply.
NOTE: If you are visa denied, please let InterExchange know as soon as possible. Depending on the reason for your denial, you may be able to try to re-apply for your visa. InterExchange will discuss your options with you and provide instructions on attending a second visa interview if you decide to apply again.