Exchange Visitor Visa

FAQ

Overview

The United States welcomes foreign citizens who come to the U.S. to participate in exchange programs. Before applying for a visa, all exchange visitor applicants are required to be accepted and approved by an authorized program sponsor.  When accepted, the applicant will receive from the educational institution or program sponsors the necessary approval documentation to be submitted when applying for a visa.

The exchange visitor program J 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.

For more information, please visit the Department of State's webpage regarding J visas.

Dependents

Spouses or unmarried children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require J-2 visas. Spouses or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas.

The spouse and/or children of an exchange visitor in the U.S. may not work in J-2 status, unless they have filed Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved permission to work. To learn more, select How Do I Get a Work Permit (Employment Authorization Document)? on the USCIS website.

Application Items

Each applicant for an exchange visitor visa must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2x2 photograph.
  • Unless your J program is sponsored by the United States Government (with a program code beginning with a "G"), a receipt showing payment of the non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee (the MRV fee) of US$160, paid in local currency. Please visit this page for information about paying this fee. If the visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on the applicant's nationality. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to 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 the SEVIS fee. For more information about SEVIS, please see SEVIS Information.

In addition to these items, every applicant must present an interview appointment letter confirming that they have booked an appointment through this service. Applicants may also bring whatever supporting documents they feel are necessary to support the information they are providing to the consular officer, for example evidence which shows the purpose of the trip, intent to depart the United States, and arrangements made to cover the costs of the trip. Those applicants who do not have sufficient funds to support themselves while in the U.S. must present convincing evidence that an interested person will provide support. Depending on individual circumstances, applicants may provide other documentation substantiating the trip's purpose and specifying the nature of binding obligations, such as family ties or employment, which would compel their return abroad.

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. Consular officers may consider the applicant's specific intentions, family situations, and long-range plans and prospects within his or her country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is of concern, the applicant should bring the documents to the Embassy in a sealed envelope. The Embassy will not make this information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of the information.

Supporting Documents

  • Applicants must demonstrate strong financial, social, and family ties abroad that will compel them to return after the program of study.
  • Financial and any other documents you believe will support your application. Credible evidence that you have enough readily available funds to meet all expenses for the first year of study and that you have access to funds sufficient to cover all expenses while you remain in the United States.
  • Photocopies of bank statements will not be accepted unless you can also show original copies of bank statements, or original bank books.
  • If you are being financially sponsored by another person, please bring proof of your relationship to the sponsor (such as your birth certificate), the sponsor's most recent, original tax forms, and the sponsor's bankbooks and/or fixed deposit certificates.
  • Academic documents that show scholastic preparation. Useful documents include school transcripts (original copies are preferable) with grades, public examination certificates (A-levels, etc.), standardized test scores (SAT, TOEFL, etc.), and diplomas.

Dependents

Applicants with dependents must also provide:

  • Proof of the applicant's relationship to his/her spouse and/or children (e.g., marriage and birth certificates.);
  • The sponsor must issue each the spouse or child their own Form DS-2019. This form is used to obtain the required visa and the spouse or children can enter the U.S. at the same time as the principal exchange visitor or at a later date.