What is a J1 Visa?

Wondering what is a J1 visa? It is a non-immigrant visa for people visiting the U.S. for short-term work, training, or student/scholar programs. There are multiple categories available under this visa that allow simultaneous work and study. It was introduced in 1961 for strengthening international ties with the US via educational exchanges and job training. Visitors can continue education in the country for a short duration or get professional training.

J1 Visa Eligibility Guidelines

There are several J1 visa eligibility criteria including English language proficiency, sponsorship, etc. Your dependents may be allowed to accompany you based on the program and work relation with the sponsor. The dependents include spouses and unmarried children aged under 21 years. They get the J2 visa and have to undergo a similar application procedure. You should have health insurance to meet the J1 visa requirements.

Key Benefits of J1 Visa

The difference between F1 and J1 visas lies in factors like sponsors, dependents, employment, etc. While the former is only for students, the latter allows entry under various categories like trainee, student, scholar, teacher, intern, research & summer work, professor, and more. It is also known as the exchange visitor visa. Foreigners can gain vital training and skills across a variety of fields in the US and implement them in their home countries. There is also a ‘home residency’ requirement within the visa.  Individuals should return to their home country for at least a couple of years before revisiting the US. 

Requirements for J1 Visas

Every program will have a different J1 visa duration and guidelines. Here’s a closer look: 

  • Au Pair Program: Those between 18-26 may visit for up to 2 years, live with a host family, study at any institution and offer childcare to the host. 
  • Short-term Scholar Program: Scholars and professors can undertake research and teach at US institutions for up to 6 months every year. 
  • Work & Travel Program: Those enrolled full-time at any post-secondary school may visit for travel and work in the spring, summer, and winter. 
  • Internship: Recent graduates may visit to learn more about the country’s culture and gain experience in their chosen field of work.
  • High School or Secondary School: School students may take admission in any accredited private/public school and reside with an American family or at a boarding school. 
  • Camp Counselor: Those who are 18 and older may work with American youngsters at summer camps as a teacher or camp counselor. 

J1 Visa Fees and Charges

The J1 visa costs approximately $160 (around Rs 12,000). The fee amount may change due to additional SEVIS fees. SEVIS charges vary depending on the visa category and can cost a few hundred dollars.

Application Process for J1 Visas 

  • Find your designated sponsor with approval from the US Department of State. Get acceptance in their educational program. 
  • Submit the additional DS-2019 forms for dependents accompanying you. Fill this form and get an interview with the US Consulate. 
  • You will have to pay the SEVIS I-901 charge to the Department of Homeland Security through your application. You will also have to submit a valid passport with at least 6 months of validity and a colored personal photograph. 
  • You will have to attend the interview at the US Consulate or Embassy. Children aged 13 and less will not need an interview in most scenarios. The same applies to those over 80 years of age.   

J1 Visa Documents Needed 

  • Form DS-7002 or training plan
  • DS-2019 Certificate of eligibility 
  • Proof of US Consulate fee payment 
  • Confirmation page for online application form or DS-160
  • Passport-sized photograph 
  • Payment proof for the SEVIS fee 
  • Passport
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