Understanding what the J1 Visa is and how it is applicable to you is crucial in order to effectively apply for it. A J1 Visa is a non-immigrant, temporary, visa that allows visitors to participate in US cultural exchange programs. These exchange programs can range from internships to College and university courses as well as training of foreign physicians in US medical institutions. It is meant to offer practical training that may be required for the completion of academic objectives in one’s own home country.
What the visa allows you to do:
As a university or college student, a J1 Visa will allow its holder to:
Study in an American college or university (post-secondary institutions) and be awarded a degree for their course.
Partake in internship programs which may be beneficial, or required, for the academic course undertaken by the student in his/her own home country.
Work as a part-time employee (certain conditions apply)
It should be noted that the maximum limit of stay of this visa is 24 months and you would have to depart from the US as soon as your visa expires.
How to Apply:
The following is a step by step guide to allow you to easily apply for this visa:
Finding a Sponsor:
It is absolutely mandatory to find a sponsor for your stay in the United States as the J1 visitor visa will not be granted if you are planning to pay for your stay and academic ventures through personal or family savings. You sponsor may be eligible to support you through your stay in the US if it is:
a.The United States Government itself, directly or indirectly.
b.The government of the country they belong.
c.Any international organization, which has the US listed as its member.
d.Any other source.
Your sponsor holds critical importance in the process of your visa application as they will be responsible for its supervision and will be the body primarily contacted by the US throughout your exchange program.
Note: Sponsors may check your eligibility to participate in the concerned cultural exchange program; they usually prefer proficient English speakers with a solid academic background.
Getting the DS-2019 Form:
The DS-2019, also known as the "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status", is the key document that allows you to have an interview with the United States Embassy or Consulate. The DS-2019 is filled out and issued by your sponsor, and it already has all the relevant details concerning you, your sponsor, and the exchange program you wish to partake in (like the starting and ending dates, the budget of the program, etc.). Once you have your DS-2019 form, you can request for an interview with the US embassy or consulate, but that does not guarantee that you will get your J-1 visa. It will still be the final decision of the US Embassy or Consulate whether to issue you the visa or to withhold it.
In case you wish to bring along your spouse or children, they too will be issued the DS-2019 form and interviewed at the embassy.
Make sure you have all the documents required for your interview:
The US embassy may require you to present certain documents, like criminal records or guarantee of return to your home country, and it is very important that you be prepared for them beforehand. Check the Website of the United States Immigration to see which documents are usually required for the interview and prepare all the relevant documents preemptively.