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