The J-1 visa for studying in the USA is one of the two most common student visas and is also called an exchange visitor visa. While the F-1 visa is intended for academic study, the J-1 visa has a broader scope. It serves to promote cultural exchange.
As exchange visitors are in the US, among other persons
- take part in an exchange program between a German and a US university
- traveling to the United States as a Fulbright exchange visitor
- complete an internship
- spend a maximum of six months at a research institution (short term scholar)
- take up a position as a trainee
- work as an au pair
Requirements for a J-1 USA visa
The issuing of a J-1 visa for studying in the USA is tied to several conditions. Those who want to do an exchange program, the need to participate initially by an authorized program sponsor (Legal sponsor) approve leave. This assumes that the applicant has the necessary qualifications for the program in the USA, a country located in North America according to holidaysort.
In addition, applicants must be permanently resident outside of the United States and intend to return there after temporarily residing in the United States. Proof of sufficient financial means for the duration of the stay as well as sufficient English language skills are also required. There must also be adequate health insurance coverage for the USA.
Spouses, unmarried partners and minor children have the option of accompanying the applicant to the United States. For this you need a J-2 visa. This visa is also tied to certain requirements, which the applicant should find out about in advance.
Special case: Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement
For (former) holders of a J-1 visa there is an additional requirement: the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement. This stipulates that participants in an exchange program must first stay outside the USA for two years before they can apply for a new visa. This rule applies in the following cases:
- If the stay is partially or fully funded by US government agencies or the government of your own country, for example in the form of a scholarship
- After acquiring special knowledge that is of particular importance for the home country
- For medical students who have completed graduate medical training in the USA
Special case: internships in the USA
For internships in the USA, specific conditions apply depending on the target group. Students can complete an internship of a maximum of twelve months in the USA up to one year after completing their studies (interns). Graduates who have at least one year of professional experience have the opportunity to complete an internship of up to 18 months (trainees). In addition, enrolled students have the opportunity to do a summer job during the semester break (Summer Work & Travel).
The application process for the J-1 visa USA
After the legal sponsor has approved the exchange program in the USA, it issues the applicant the Certificate of Eligibility or the DS-2019 form. Without the Certificate of Eligibility, it is not possible to apply for a J-1 visa to study in the USA. After receiving the certificate, all information should be checked. Mistakes in the name or date of birth need to be corrected.
By the way: The so-called ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) form is only relevant for visa-free trips. Those who enter the USA with a J-1 visa are not affected.
Additional form for interns
If you want to do an internship in the USA, you must also enclose the DS-7002 form with your visa application. This is an internship plan (training / internship placement plan) that is drawn up in consultation with the employer and program sponsor. The plan names, among other things, the start and end time of the internship and contains information about the sponsor and participants. Only after everyone involved has signed the DS-7002 form does the program sponsor issue the Certificate of Eligibility.
In order to apply for a J-1 visa to study in the USA, the following steps are then necessary.
1. Complete the DS-160 application form
First you have to fill out the online application form (DS-160). For this you need, among other things, a current passport photo. There are various requirements for the image, which are listed on the website of the diplomatic mission of the USA in Germany. You will need the completed application form in printed form for the later embassy interview.
2. Pay the visa application fee and SEVIS fee
For the visa application for the J-1 visa there is a visa fee, the Machine Readable Visa Fee (MRV). It is currently US $ 160 and can be paid through the Visa service provider CGI Stanley after prior online registration. Possible payment methods are online payment with debit card, bank transfer, instant transfer or cash at the bank. Important: Don’t forget to write down the CGI reference number afterwards. You need it to make an appointment for the visa interview and for the interview itself.
There are additional costs associated with obtaining a J-1 visa to study in the United States. The so-called SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee is added to the visa fee. This is currently US $ 180.
Good to know: Fulbright usually waives the visa and SEVIS fee for scholars and their families.