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Guide to J-1 Visas

J-1 visas are exchange visitor nonimmigrant visas, also known as exchange student visas and trainee visas, for those who have been accepted to an exchange visitor program and deemed qualified to visit the U.S. as a participant in that program.

Rebecca I. Pathak

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Call us today at 818-843-1185 so that we can answer your questions, provide initial consultation on your immigration matter, assess how we can help you or can point you in the right direction as you take on this important and life-changing pursuit.

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Who is Eligible for J-1 Student and Trainee Visas?


There are several types of exchange visitor programs that are applicable. These include:

  • Summer work travel for international visitors

  • Student, secondary training for interns

  • College or university work for government visitors

  • Specialist training for camp counselors

  • Short-term scholar designation for au pairs and EduCare

  • Teacher designation for physicians

  • Trainee designation for professors and research scholars

What Must You Do to Obtain Your J-1 Visa?


Before applying for your J-1 visa, you must first apply for and receive acceptance from an exchange visitor program. This can be done only by way of a designated sponsoring organization.

Once accepted to the exchange visitor program, you may be asked to pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-901 Fee.

Your program sponsor will give you Form DS-2019 – Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status – which you qualify to receive once entered into the SEVIS system and which you must complete to present at your visa interview.

You must also correctly and completely fill out Form DS-160, which includes a photo of you.

Then, at the interview that you scheduled at the U.S. embassy or consulate as early as you can to ensure that you are approved by the start of your program, you will need to present the following:

  • A valid passport for travel to the U.S. that is valid for at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the U.S.

  • Your Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-160 confirmation page

  • Application fee payment receipt in the case that you are required to pay before your interview or fee payment at the interview

  • Your correctly completed Form DS-2019

  • If you will be a trainee or intern, you will also need to present your correctly completed Form DS-7002, the Training/Internship Placement Plan

  • You may be asked to present additional materials such as those that exhibit your ability to pay for your travel costs either yourself or with evidenced help, your purpose of travel, your intent to depart the U.S. once your program is complete, and evidence of employment or family ties.

To ensure that you meet the specifications of your U.S. embassy or consulate, you will need to adhere to the specific instructions provided by your specific U.S. embassy or consulate.

Can Your Spouse and Children Accompany You in the United States?


It will depend on your specific sponsorship program. If your exchange visitor sponsorship program does allow for J-2 visa applications for your spouse and unmarried minor children, you can expect your spouse and children to enter the U.S. and reside with you at a later date during your J program and not to accompany you during your entrance into the U.S.

To obtain J-2 visas, your spouse and children must each complete DS-2019 forms and must have a copy of your J-1 visa and documentation that evidences their relationship to you.

Your children may attend school while in the U.S. on their J-2 visas without obtaining student F visas.

Where to Begin?

As you go through this emotional and demanding process, it can make a world of difference to have specialized help. At Pathak and Feldman Law, serving Burbank, CA and the Los Angeles area, we’re here to provide caring, knowledgeable assistance from start to finish of your J-1 and J-2 visa petitions.

Call us at 818-843-1185 today to schedule a consultation!

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