Exchange Visitor Visa

On this page:


FAQ

Overview

The United States welcomes foreign citizens who come to the United States 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's 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.

Dependents

Spouses or unmarried children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder of a J-1 visa to the United States for the duration of his or her stay must have J-2 visas. Spouses or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but who will visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas or travel visa-free.

The spouse and/or child of an exchange visitor in the United States may not work while holding a J-2 visa unless they have filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must have reviewed the Form I-765 and given permission to the J-2 holder to work. The USCIS website has a PDF document titled "Employment Authorization" that has more information.

Application Items

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

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 web page 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.
  • Your old passport with your previous U.S. visa, if you had one and if available.
  • One (1) 2"x2" (5cmx5cm) photograph taken within the last six months. This web 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 web 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 the SEVIS fee. The SEVIS website has more information.
  • An envelope with your address label that will be used by the Embassy to return your visa and documents to you. You should e-mail velokurjers@velokurjers.lv or call tel. +371 200 00041 to request the address label for your visa pass-back. The subject line of your e-mail should be - S. visa application delivery request.
  • 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.

How to Apply

 

Step 1

 Determine your visa type by reading Common Nonimmigrant Visas. Each visa type explains the qualifications and application items. Choose the visa type that applies to your situation.

 Be sure to also review the Visa Waiver Program. If your country participates in the Visa Waiver Program, you do not need to apply for a visa if you are traveling for business or pleasure and will only be staying in the Unites States for 90 days or less.

Step 2

 The next step is to complete the DS-160 Form. Be sure to read the Guidelines for Completing the DS-160 Form carefully. All information must be correct and accurate. Once the form is submitted, you cannot make any changes. If you need assistance, please consult an immigration lawyer or translator. The call center cannot help you complete your DS-160. You will need your DS-160 number to book your appointment.

Step 3

Once you have determined the correct visa type and completed the DS-160, you must pay the visa fee. The visa fee page lists the visa types and correlating visa fee in U.S. dollars and local currency.

To pay your visa fee, read the Bank and Payment Options page. This page explains how to make your visa fee payment. You will create a profile and must keep your CGI reference number to book your visa appointment.

Step 4

Now you will need to log in to your profile with the same credentials you used to pay your visa fee. Once you are in the system, you will see your dashboard.

Click on Schedule Appointment on the left-hand side menu.

This will start the process for scheduling your appointment. You will need:

  • Your passport number.
  • The CGI reference number from your Visa Fee receipt. Click hereif you need help finding this number.
  • The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page.

As you go through the process you will be able to select your visa type, enter personal data, add dependents, confirm visa payment, and schedule your interview appointment. If you are renewing your previous U.S. visa that is still valid or expired less than 24 months ago, you may be able to mail-in your documents to the Embassy without a visa interview.

 

Step 5

 Contact SIA Velokurjers by e-mail at velokurjers@velokurjers.lv or tel. +371 200 00041 to arrange your visa delivery to you. The subject line of your e-mail should be -  U.S. visa application delivery request.  

SIA Velokurjers will provide guidance on payment options for the visa delivery service and send you an e-mail with your address label information. You will have to print this label and glue it on an envelope. You MUST bring this envelope with you for your visa interview and submit it to the Consular Section along with your passport and visa application documents.

If you select the option to renew your visa without a visa interview, contact SIA Velokurjers by e-mail at velokurjers@velokurjers.lv or tel. +371 200 00041 to arrange your document delivery to the Embassy AND your visa delivery to you.

Please note!

  • ALL visa applicants are required to use only SIA Velokurjers services for sending and receiving their documents to/from the Embassy.
  • Each application/individual MUST have a separate address label. The courier's security and safety rules require separate tracking of each passport.
  • Groups of applicants and family members may NOT use one envelope, address label, or tracking number for all their application documents.

Step 6

Visit the U.S. Embassy Riga on the date and time of your visa interview. Be sure to check the Schedule My Appointment page for the necessary documentation needed for your appointment.

 Step 7

If your visa is approved, your documents including the passport with the visa will be sent to you in your envelope with the address label from SIA Velokurjers.

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.

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

You should bring the following documents to your interview:

  • A copy of signed Form DS-7002 Training/ Internship Placement Plan (Trainee and Internship program participants only).
  • Information on job placement (Summer Work Travel program participants, if pre-placed).
  • Information on host family (Au-pair program and high-school program participants).
  • Agreement with a local agency, if such is involved.
  • Financial and any other documents you believe will support your application and which give 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 financially sponsored by another person, 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 preferred) with grades, public examination certificates (A-levels, etc.), standardized test scores (SAT, TOEFL, etc.), and diplomas.

Supporting Documents for Dependents

If you have dependents, you must also provide:

  • Proof of your relationship to your spouse and/or child (e.g., marriage and birth certificates).
  • Each spouse or child must have their own Form DS-2019. This form is used to obtain the visa required for the spouse/child to enter the United States with you as the principal holder of an exchange visitor visa, or to join you in the United States at a later date.
  • It is preferred that families apply for their visas at the same time, but if the spouse and/or child must apply separately at a later time, they should bring a copy of the J-1 visa holder's passport and visa, along with all other required documents.

More Information

For more information about visas for exchange visitors, visit the Department of State's website.