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J1 Exchange Visitor Visa Overview

The J-1 visa, also known as the Exchange Visitor Visa, is a program that allows qualified foreign exchange visitors to work and/or study in the United States. The program was first invoked by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. The Act was meant to establish a beneficial communication of ideas between United States citizens and those living outside the United States. The Department of State grants entry to visitors who wish to participate in teaching, instructing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, or graduate medical education in the United States. Exchange Visitor categories include: Au pair and EduCare Camp Counselor Government Visitor Intern International Visitor (Dept. of State use) Physician Professor and Research Scholar Short-term Scholar Specialist Student, college/university Student, secondary Summer Work Travel Teacher Trainee

J1 Exchange Visitor Visa Requirements

The qualifications for each program differ for each category, however, these are the common requirements to obtain the J-1 visa: The participant must have a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (Form DS-2019) which is received from the program sponsor. The participant must not have the intention of releasing his/her foreign residence.

Government Fees

If you are planning on returning to your home country and adhering to the home residency requirement, then you will just be responsible for the DS-160 fee of $160 and the SEVIS fee of $180. This means a total of $340 for the J-1 outside of the program fee. However, ask your sponsor if the SEVIS fee is included in your program fee. You will also need to factor in the cost of traveling to the U.S. consulate or embassy as well as a possible $85 biometrics fee. Getting a J-1 visa waiver requires you to obtain a DS-3035 Application for Recommendation of a J-1 Waiver, which incurs a fee of $120. Add that to the cost of a J-1 without a waiver, and the total fees go up to $480—not counting the program fee.


There are several steps to apply for a J1 Exchange Visitor Visa.

  1. The first step is to choose a J1 exchange visitor program.

  2. Anyone applying for J1 visa must have the following in order to be eligible for an exchange visitor program in the US:
    - Proficiency in the English language; and
    - J1 health insurance.

  3. Find a Sponsor

  4. Complete Form DS-2019 & Form DS-7002 if needed

  5. Pay Application Fees.

$495.00 + Gov. Fees
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