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What is the criteria and process for obtaining a J1 visa?

Prior acceptance to an Exchange Visitor Program and a sponsoring organization is essential in order to obtain a J-1 visa. If a non-immigrant wishes to take advantage of the J-1 program, the alien must satisfy the following criteria:

  • The non-immigrant must fall under one or more of the J-1 categories
  • They must have sufficient funds for the trip to the U.S.
  • They must be fluent in English
  • They must have a residence abroad and they must not possess any intention for abandoning it
  • They must have sufficient medical insurance

To get a J-1 visa, the individual has to apply for it at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. Once they receive the visa, they can enter U.S. up to 30 days before the program date. Here are the steps to obtain a J-1 visa:

  • The sponsor will provide a DS-2019 form, which is a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The Form DS-2019 is the certificate of eligibility and it has to be submitted to the U.S. consulate or embassy.
  • The Form DS-156, which is the non-immigrant visa application, has to be submitted.
  • Male applicants and applicants from countries like Iran, Cuba, Syria, Libya, Sudan, and North Korea have to submit the Form-157, which is the supplemental non-immigrant visa application. It provides details of your travel plans.
  • DS-158 which contains the details of work history and contact information has to be submitted.
  • A valid passport, a 2×2 photograph, and a non-refundable fee of $160 USD per visa application have to be submitted along with the above documents.

Contact our office today to speak with a lawyer to learn more about your options and to begin the visa application process.

Updated on January 15, 2020

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