Work and Travel

J1 Visa

J1 VISA

Application Form (DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application)

Specific instructions regarding your visa interview will be forwarded to you based on what the U.S. Embassy/Consulate instructions are for your home country. Now that you have received your DS-2019 Form, SEVIS fee payment receipt instructions, and the GEC Work Agreement, you will need to complete the following application form electronically: the DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Application. This document is necessary to schedule your visa appointment and is the FIRST STEP in the visa application process.

Please follow the instructions very carefully as incomplete or inaccurate information may result in your appointment being cancelled. If that happens, you will be required to complete a new form and reschedule the appointment.

The DS-160 is an Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form used for temporary travel to the United States. Form DS-160 is submitted electronically to the Department of State. Consular Officers use the information entered on the DS-160 to process the visa application and, combined with a personal interview, will determine your eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa. The information requested on the DS-160 Form includes:

  • Personal Information
  • Passport Information
  • Travel Information
  • Previous U.S. Travel Information
  • U.S. Point of Contact Information
  • Family Information
  • Work/Education/Training Information (Present, previous, and additional)
  • Instructions for Uploading a Photo to Your DS-160
  • Instructions on How to Electronically Sign and Submit the Form

All answers must be in English using only English characters. Most questions asked are mandatory and must be answered in the spaces provided. You may leave spaces blank when the questions are marked “optional.” You may answer a question with “Does Not Apply” when that question does not apply to you; however, all other questions must be answered. The system will not allow you to submit an application with any mandatory questions left unanswered. If you do not complete a mandatory question, the system will display an error message and require you to answer the question before continuing with the application. If you do not answer questions that apply to your circumstances and/or purpose of travel, the system will not accept your application.

You will need to upload a correctly formatted photo, and once completed, the information on the DS-160 Form will be electronically transmitted to the Embassy/Consulate post where you will apply for the visa. You will receive a confirmation barcode page which you are required to print and present with your visa application. (You do not need to print the full application.) The DS-160 Form may be accessed at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/ Answers to any questions regarding the DS-160 Form can also be found at this site. 19

Scheduling Your J-1 Visa Interview Appointment

Now that you have completed the DS-160 Form and printed your DS-160 confirmation barcode page, you will need to schedule a visa interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your home country or country of permanent residence. Walk-in appointments are not accepted. You will receive instructions on how to schedule your embassy interview from GEC or your Foreign Partner Agent, or you may review the U.S. Embassy website in your home country for detailed instructions. (The process varies from country to country.) The average J-1 visa interview appointment time varies, but can be up to 31 days during peak season.

  • It is important to schedule your appointment as soon as possible after you receive your DS-2019 Form. It is never recommended that applicants schedule an appointment prior to receiving their DS-2019 Form. Unexpected delays in receiving the form, incorrect information on the DS-2019, and other unforeseen circumstances could lead to your appointment being cancelled.
  • If you have had previous arrests or criminal convictions or have violated terms of a previous visa, you should schedule your visa interview appointment date at least 60 days in advance. You will be required to furnish documents relating to those situations in support of your application.
  • If, for some reason, you have to cancel your interview appointment, call to cancel and reschedule an appointment for the earliest possible date. Remember, during peak season, you will most likely have to wait a long time before you can get a new appointment date, so only cancel your appointment if you have a valid reason.
  • If you are studying or residing in a foreign country, you may be able to apply for your J-1 visa in that country of temporary residence. In some cases, the U.S. Embassy/Consulate may require you to apply for your J-1 visa in your home country.
  • Depending on the country where you live, you may be required to pay a fee to schedule the appointment.

Paying the J-1 Visa Application Fee

You will be required to pay a $160 Machine Readable Visa application fee (MRV fee – J-1 non-immigrant visa application processing fee.) This fee is charged by the U.S. Embassy/ Consulate. You will receive instructions from GEC or your Foreign Partner Agent on how to pay your J-1 Application Processing fee. You will need to bring your payment receipt with you to your visa interview appointment. (This fee is non-refundable regardless of whether or not you are issued a J-1 visa or if you cancel your program. It is subject to change per the U.S. Department of State.)

Additional Documents

The U.S. Embassy/Consulate may wish to see additional documents from you in order to establish if you are qualified for the J-1 visa. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of the following:

  • The purpose of your travel; your intent to depart the U.S. at the conclusion of your program; your ability to pay all travel costs; and/or other documents the consular officer may request.
  • Employment/Professional evidence, school enrollment documents, financial documents, documentation of your family ties, and/or your round trip travel documents may be sufficient to show the purpose of your travel and your intent to return to your home country.
  •  If you cannot cover all the costs for your travel, you may provide credible evidence to show that another person will cover some or all costs for your travel. The consul may or may not review the additional documents.
  • If you have ever been arrested and/or have a criminal conviction, have a medical ineligibility, or have been denied entry into or deported from the U.S. in the past, you will be required to furnish documents relating to your situation in support of your application.
  • You must read the Rights, Protections, and Resources Pamphlet http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/general/rights-protections-temporary-workers.html or view the video link at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ji-f3dkeOIE&feature=youtu.be to learn about your rights in the United States and the protection that is available to you. Review this important pamphlet and/or video before applying for your visa. 22

Attend Your Visa Interview

At the time and date of your interview, go to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate with all of the items listed below. The Embassy guards will escort you to the Embassy’s Consular Section for your interview. If you arrive late, your appointment will be cancelled and you will have to re-schedule your appointment.

Please note that all visitors to the Embassy/Consulate building are subject to a security screening by Embassy guards. Electronic devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras, laptops, music players, portable game consoles, USB thumb drives, mobile tablets, remote-entry automobile key “fobs”, anything with a power plug or battery, lighters and any flame-generating devices, sharp objects, and any devices with an On/Off switch are not allowed within the Embassy grounds. The Embassy may or may not provide storage facilities for such devices. Please be sure to check the Embassy/Consulate’s website in the country where you are applying for additional items that are prohibited.

Be prepared to talk about your work opportunity in the U.S., the purpose of your program, your intent to depart the U.S. after your travel, your ability to pay all travel costs, and what your plans for the future will be when you return home at the end of the program. Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language.

What to Bring With You to the Visa Interview:

  • Valid Passport
  • Valid DS-2019 Form
  • SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
  • Confirmation barcode page of the DS-160 Form
  • Visa application (MRV) fee receipt
  • GEC Work Agreement Form and Program Information Guide
  • Evidence of sufficient funds
  • Evidence of ties to home country /country of residence
  • Additional documents per the U.S. Embassy in the country where you are applying

During the visa application process, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will usually be taken; however, this varies based on location. Be prepared to stay at the Embassy for several hours due to wait times; however, please note that your personal interview may only last a few minutes.

After Your J-1 Visa Interview

When the visa is approved, you may have to pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable, to your nationality. You will be informed how your passport with visa stamp will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time on the Embassy website to learn how soon your passport will be ready for pick-up or delivery by the courier. Routine applications take 5 – 7 business days to process before your passport will be released to you. If you are advised at the time of your visa interview that your application will take additional administrative processing, then you should allow at least an additional 60 – 90 days for processing.

Until your passport is returned to you, make sure your travel plans will allow you to travel with an acceptable alternative form of ID if you are traveling outside of the country where you applied for your visa. You should not make your final travel plans to the U.S. until the visa has been issued and your passport with your J-1 visa stamp and your DS-2019 Form have been returned to you. The processing times quoted are approximate and cannot be guaranteed. It is important that you keep this in mind when applying for the visa. It is not possible to expedite a case simply because you have not allowed sufficient time for the application to be processed.

GEC cannot guarantee that you will be issued a visa.

Once you receive your passport back, check to see that your visa accurately reflects your correct visa classification. In this case, it will say “J-1.” If the visa identifies the exchange program in which you are participating, verify that the information is accurate. In this case, it will say, “Summer Work Travel.” If your review indicates any discrepancies or potential problems, visit the U.S. Embassy/Consulate to obtain a new visa. 24

Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence (Foreign Residence) Requirement – 212(e)

When you agree to participate in an Exchange Visitor Program and your program falls under the conditions explained below, you will be subject to the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence (Foreign Residence) Requirement. This means you will be required to return to your home country for two years at the end of your Exchange Visitor program. This requirement under immigration law is based on Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Two-year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement Conditions – An Exchange Visitor is subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement if the following conditions existed:

  • Government funded exchange program – The program in which the Exchange Visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the U.S. government or the government of the Exchange Visitor’s nationality or last residence;
  • Graduate medical education or training – The Exchange Visitor entered the U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training;
  • Specialized knowledge or skill: Skills List – The Exchange Visitor is a national or permanent resident of a country which has deemed the field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country, as shown on the Exchange Visitor Skills List.

If you are subject to the Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement, your visa will be stamped accordingly at the Embassy.