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J1-Visa overview

United States of America - Overview

United States of America is a country in North America and a federal republic of 50 states. The United States is the world’s greatest economic power, measured in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). The nation’s wealth is partly a reflection of its rich natural resources and its enormous agricultural output, but it owes more to the country’s highly developed industry. The United States also impinges on the global economy as a source of and as a destination for investment capital. The country continues to sustain an economic life that is more diversified than any other on Earth, providing the majority of its people with one of the world’s highest standards of living.


The United States is made up of so many diverse destinations from coastlines to big cities, that it's hard to decide which places deserve the distinction of the best in America. Experience some of the most inspiring views America has to offer, such as the Grand Canyon National Park where the Colorado River weaves its way through the 277-mile-long canyon, making it a top destination for whitewater rafting; Yosemite National Park in California which is all about reconnecting with nature. You can check out famous landmarks like Half Dome and Glacier Point or hiking Cathedral Lakes, the Mist Trail and other popular paths. You'll also want to save time to admire Yosemite's numerous waterfalls, including towering Yosemite Falls, which is one of the tallest waterfalls in the world; New York City- Known for its diverse cultural scene, the Big Apple boasts so many things to do that it puts most of its U.S. peers to shame. Whether you choose to spend the day perusing The Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibits, catching a show on Broadway or trying the city's famous pizza, chances are you'll never find yourself feeling bored here; and the many other tourist destinations that should be on your bucket list.


What is J-1 VISA?


The J-1 visa, commonly known as the “exchange visitor visa,” in the United States is for people from all over the world who wish to take part in work-and-study-based to gain crucial skills in the U.S. that they can take back upon returning to their respective home countries. These programs are sponsored by an educational or other nonprofit institution, which must be accredited through the Exchange Visitor Program designated by the U.S. State Department. This could mean knowledge acquired under different categories impacting all markets such as student, intern, scholar, trainee, teacher, professor, research, and summer work, among others. This allows for a diverse field of ideas, innovation, and skills within industries.


The exchange visitor program's J1 visa is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences. Participants include students at all academic levels; trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies; teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools; professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning; research scholars; professional trainees in the medical and allied fields; and international visitors coming for the purpose of travel, observation, consultation, research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs.


A J1 Exchange Visitor improves a host of their professional skills: Learn the latest industry innovations, technologies and methodologies. Future Career Path Preparation: The J1 internship helps you prepare yourself for accelerated success in your chosen discipline thus enjoying a fast track career to the top.      


Intern Eligibility:

  • Must be a foreign national who is currently enrolled in an accredited academic post-secondary degree/certificate program outside of the U.S. in their occupational field,


  • A foreign national who graduated from an accredited academic post-secondary degree/ certificate program outside of the U.S. in their occupational field no more than 12 months prior to their requested DS-2019 start date.

Trainee Eligibility:

  • A foreign national who graduated from an accredited academic post-secondary degree/ certificate program outside of the U.S. in their occupational field more than 12 months before their requested DS-2019 start date AND has at least 1 year of related full-time work experience outside of the U.S.


  • A foreign national who did not graduated from an accredited academic post-secondary degree/certificate program outside of the U.S. but has at least 5 years of related full-time work experience outside of the U.S.

Internship/training  Duration:

The J1 visa is not a regular work visa, but an intern/trainee visa aimed at gaining experience. You must intend to return to your home after completion of your training. The maximum duration of the program is 12 months for interns (students or recent graduates) and in most cases 18 months for trainees (applicants who have graduated more than 12 months prior to the start date of the training). Most sponsor organizations use a minimum age of 18 years for the intern/trainee program. Some have a maximum age as well, others don’t. Students must be able to show that they have progressed far enough in their studies for the internship to take place. After completion of the program, the J1 visa holder will be able to stay in the US for another 30 days to travel (grace period).

English Requirements

Participants must possess sufficient proficiency in the English language to participate in their programs.

Visa Requirement

To apply for a J visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information about the DS-160.

  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.

  • One (1) 2"x2" (5cmx5cm) photograph. This page has information about the required photo format.

  • Unless your J program is sponsored by the United States Government (with a program code beginning with a "G"), you must present a receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State's website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.

  • An approved DS-2019 from your U.S. program.

  • Unless your J program is sponsored by the United States Government (with a program code beginning with a "G"), you must pay your Form I-901 SEVIS fee. The SEVIS website has more details.


            In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

Supporting Documents:

Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.


Participants and any J-2 dependents (spouses and minor unmarried children under the age 21) accompanying them are required to carry medical insurance at the minimum benefit levels stated in the program regulations. Program sponsors are required to ensure that all participants have the appropriate medical insurance. Sponsors will verify that the participant's medical insurance meets the regulatory requirements, and will facilitate the purchase of coverage for participants who do not have their own insurance, or whose coverage does not meet the requirements. Participants interested in obtaining appropriate medical insurance should contact the responsible officer of their sponsor organization sponsoring their program. Willful failure on the part of the participant and/or any J-2 dependents to maintain active insurance coverage is grounds for termination from the program. Please refer to the regulations for details.

Rights and Protections for Temporary Workers:

If you are coming to the United States to work or study, the US Government is very confident that you will have a rewarding stay in the United States. However, if bad situations happen, you have rights and you can get help! You Have the Right to:

1. Be paid fairly

2.   Be free from discrimination

3.   Be free from sexual harassment and sexual exploitation

4. Have a healthy and safe workplace

5.   Request help from union, immigrant, and labor rights groups

6.   Leave an abusive employment situation

Additional Rights Based on your Non-Immigrant Status:

Intern or Trainee

  • Your sponsor must interview you in person, by telephone, or by web camera.

  • Your sponsor must give you an intern or trainee placement plan (DS-7002) that includes a written statement of any income you will receive and a summary of the training objectives of the program. You must be given at least 32 hours of work per week.

  • Your sponsor must give you a written statement of the costs and fees you will have to pay and an estimate of living expenses in the United States.

  • Your sponsor must ensure that you have medical insurance coverage, though your sponsor does not need to provide or pay for this coverage.


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