J Visas - Cultural Exchanges

The J visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences. Participants in the Exchange Visitor Program include:
  1. Intern
  2. International visitor
  3. Participants and host families through the Au Pair
  4. Physician
  5. Professor
  6. Research scholar
  7. Specialist
  8. Students at all academic levels
  9. Teacher
  10. Trainee
Before applying for J visa, visitors must first apply to and be accepted by a SEVP approved school. Visit the Department of State EducationUSA website to learn about educational opportunities and the DHS website Study in the States school search page to search for SEVP-certified schools.

When accepted by the U.S. school they plan to attend, students will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee, at least three business days before the consular interview.

Students under J visas are not permitted to enter the United States earlier than 30 days before the start date of their program.

Visa Information

If you are planning to go to the U.S. to participate in a cultural exchange program or for research purposes, you need a J visa. You need to apply for visa at the Embassy/Consulate office of U.S. in your country. The application procedures for J visas is as follows:
  1. Complete the DS-160 online application and print the confirmation page (to bring to the interview).
  2. Create an account on https://usvisa-info.com.
    1. Pay the non-refundable application fee (MRV fee^) online.
    2. Schedule an interview appointment with a consular office.
  3. Attend your interview appointment and bring all pertinent documentation:
    1. Confirmation page of Form DS-160.
    2. Valid passport.
    3. One passport size photo (see the photo specifications).
    4. Duly completed Form DS-2019 issued from the school - in original.
    5. SEVIS payment receipt.
    6. Financial documentation (e.g., pay slips, tax returns, bank statement of the applicant or applicant's parents) that demonstrates the economic means to finance the entire course of study and stay in the U.S.
    7. The documentation that demonstrates your social and family ties to the country from where you are applying. Such documents include original residence permit for foreigners, family status, residence/marriage certificate, etc.
    8. Participants in J-1 Trainee and Intern programs only, need to present Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002, in addition to the Form DS-2019.
    9. An updated CV.
  4. The decision on your visa application:
    1. If approved, the visa is issued within two/three working days, and the passport is forwarded to DHL. After a maximum of another three working days, the passport will be available for collection at the DHL location selected during the online registration process. Once your passport is at the DHL location, you will receive an e-mail by DHL with instructions on how to pick it up. If you select the home delivery option, delivery will take a few business days longer.
    2. If the visa is denied, your passport will be returned to you at the conclusion of the interview, along with a letter explaining the reasons for the visa refusal.
    3. Your application might receive a notice, sometimes referred to as a 221(g) notice, and sent for "Administrative Processing." This process can take some time. Meanwhile, you can check the status of your visa application here.
^ Nonimmigrant visa applicants from certain countries/areas of authority may be required to pay a visa issuance fee, also known as reciprocity fee, after their application is approved. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee). You can determine if a visa issuance fee applies to your nationality here.