How to Apply for the Exchange Visitor Program
Many different visa categories permit nonimmigrants to travel to the United States. Nonimmigrant international students usually enter the United States using one of three visa types: F-1, J-1 or M-1. Each visa category is defined by its purpose for travel to the United States. In this blog series, the Exchange Visitor Program will help you better understand how to obtain a J-1 visa.
Every year the U.S. Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program brings more than 300,000 foreign citizens to the United States through 15 different programs to study, teach, research, share specialized skills and receive on-the-job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years.
During these exchanges, participants strengthen their English language skills, connect with Americans and learn more about the United States. These experiences not only form strong bonds between the exchange participants and the Americans they meet, but also creates mutual understanding and cultural awareness in communities across the country and around the world.
To apply for the Exchange Visitor Program, you should:
- Determine which program is right for you and contact a designated sponsor to take part in one of its exchange programs. The sponsor will provide specific program and application requirements.
- Obtain a breakdown of all costs and fees from multiple sponsors before committing to a program, as participant program fees may vary from sponsor to sponsor. If you are accepted into an exchange visitor program, the program sponsor will issue you a Form DS-2019, “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status.”
- Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee and keep a copy of your receipt.
- Visit the U.S. Department of State website to fill out a Form DS-160, “Nonimmigrant Visa Application” and to pay the visa application fee.
- After you pay the visa application fee, schedule your interview – the earlier the better!
- On the day of your interview, bring the following documents: an original Form DS-2019; Form DS-160 confirmation page; passport; photo; and visa application fee receipt. It is important to apply early for your visa and to read the country-specific visa application process on the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be interviewed.
- At the end of your interview, the interviewing officer will inform you if your visa is approved or denied. If approved, the interviewing officer will tell you when you should expect to receive your visa. Continue to work with your sponsor to prepare to travel to the United States.
For more information, visit the Exchange Visitor Program website.