Exchange Visitor Visa

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FAQ

Overview

The United States welcomes foreign citizens who come to the United States to participate in exchange programs. 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.  Visit the Department of State J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program website to learn about program requirements, regulations, and more.

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.

SEVIS and SEVIS Fees

After the exchange visitor program accepts your participation, you will be registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).  SEVIS is a web-based system that monitors schools and programs, students, exchange visitors, and their dependents throughout the duration of approved participation within the U.S. education system.  Your program sponsor will provide you a SEVIS-generated Form DS-2019 after the sponsor enters your information in the SEVIS database.  All exchange visitors must be registered in SEVIS. Your spouse and/or minor children, if they intend to live in the United States with you, will each receive a separate Form DS-2019.  Please double check your DS-2019 for accuracy.  Contact your program sponsor’s Responsible Officer if you see an error.  Any errors must be corrected before your interview.  

All F-1, M-1 and most J-1 applicants must pay a separate I-901 SEVIS fee at www.fmjfee.com.  Applicants cannot be interviewed for a J-1 visa until the SEVIS fee has been paid (except in certain cases – consult your exchange visitor program sponsor).  This fee is in addition to the visa application fee. For nonimmigrant students with Form I-20, the SEVIS fee is US$350. For most exchange visitors with Form DS-2019, the SEVIS fee is US$220. Payment cannot be made at the American Institute in Taiwan. Instructions for paying the SEVIS fee can be found here

SEVIS Fee Exception

Applicants participating in a U.S. Government sponsored program (programs whose codes begin with G-1, G-2, G-3, G-7) are not required to pay the SEVIS fee.  Dependents of F, J or M visa applicants and certain continuing students or exchange visitors do not have to pay the SEVIS fee.  See SEVIS fee FAQs for more information.

Program Start Date

J visas may be issued to qualified exchange visitors at any time as long as their SEVIS records are in Initial or Active status.  Please do not wait until the last minute to apply for your visa.  Visas cannot be issued to new exchange visitors who will arrive after their program start dates indicated on their DS-2019.

30-day rule: New exchange visitors must arrive in the U.S. within 30 days prior to their program start dates.  New exchange visitors are not permitted to enter the United States earlier than 30 days before their program start dates.  Please consider this date carefully when making your travel plans to the United States.  If your program start date specified on the DS-2019 is already past or you will be unable to meet that date, you must request your sponsor to change the program start date in the SEVIS system before a visa can be issued.  

Please note that visitors continuing on an exchange visitor program are not subject to this 30-day travel restriction.  Continuing exchange visitors may apply for a new visa at any time, as long as they have been maintaining status in the United States and their SEVIS records are current.  Continuing exchange visitors may also enter the U.S. at any time before their programs start.

J visa holders may be authorized to stay for up to 30 days after the completion date on the DS-2019.

How to Apply

Step 1
Double check your DS-2019 for accuracy

Contact your program sponsor’s Responsible Officer if you see an error.  Any errors must be corrected before your interview.

Step 2

Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.

Step 3

and pay the visa fee.  Pay the SEVIS fee if required.

Exception: J visa applicants participating in a program who are sponsored by the U.S. Federal Government whose program number begins with G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-7 do NOT need to create profile and do NOT have to pay the SEVIS fee and visa processing fee.  See the second paragraph in Step 4 regarding how to schedule an appointment. 

Step 4

Schedule an interview

Please note: Through December 31, 2021, if you qualify as an academic J, (secondary and university student, professor, research scholar, short-term scholar, or specialists and your dependents), please follow the instructions found here to see if you qualify for interview waiver.

Regular applicants: You can log in to your profile to schedule your interview after your visa fee payment receipt has been activated. For more information about payment options and receipt activation times, click here.

U.S. Federal Government sponsored applicants: Do not schedule an appointment as a regular applicant. Applicants in a program with program number starting with G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-7 on Form DS-2019 should contact the American Institute in Taiwan at AITVisaAppointments@state.gov to arrange an appointment.  Please be sure to include the following information in your email.  We will respond to your email in 5 working days.

  • Subject line: J visa-G program
  • Names of all visa applicants including dependents
  • Scanned copy of DS-160 confirmation pages for all applicants
  • Scanned copy of DS-2019 forms for all applicants
  • Two preferred appointment dates. We interview J applicants on Tuesday/Thursday, 10:30 am, except AIT closure days. Please request dates at least 5 working days from today’s date.
  • Your contact phone number in Taiwan during office hours 

Step 5

Appear at AIT for an interview

Visit the American Institute in Taiwan on the date and time of your visa interview. You must bring all the application items. Applications without all of these items will not be accepted.  You may also bring whatever supporting documents  you believe support the information provided to the consular officer. 

Access to AIT Consular Section waiting room is limited to the following:

  • Applicants;
  • Parents or legal guardians of applicants under 18 years old;
  • Aides of disabled applicants

Appointment holders must have an appointment confirmation page and may not be admitted more than 10 minutes before and after their appointment time.

Please review AIT’s security regulations prior to your visit.  In particular, please note the rules regarding Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs).

J-1 applicants must have sufficient proficiency in the English language to undertake the anticipated program successfully.

J-1 Summer Work Travel applicants will be interviewed in English.

J-1 applicants must have read and understood the Legal Rights and Protections pamphlet before coming to their visa interview. J-1 applicants will be questioned on the content of the pamphlet and will not get a visa unless they can respond satisfactorily on their rights.

Step 6

Receive your documents

You can check your visa application status here.  If your visa application is approved, your passport and visa will be returned to you via courier service.  Regular J applicants can also track the status of your passport delivery using your passport number or the courier tracking number.

Applicants participating in a program sponsored by the U.S. Federal Government will be advised of the document receipt option during the interview. 

Application Items

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

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form confirmation page. Anytime you make a new application, you must complete a new DS-160.  Please print out and bring your DS-160 confirmation to your interview. Please make sure the printed bar codes are clear.  Incomplete, incorrect, or unclear barcodes will NOT be accepted and will result in cancellation of your appointment.  Visit the DS-160 web page for more information about the DS-160.
  • A valid passport. Most visa applicants must have a passport valid for at least 6 months past the date of their anticipated departure from the United States.  Taiwan passport holders and passport holders from certain countries may enter the United States with passports that will expire in less than 6 months.  However, they will not be permitted to remain in the U.S. beyond the validity of their passports.
  • All previous passports - If your previous passports are lost or stolen, you must provide AIT with a Certificate of Entry and Exit Dates (from 1983 to present).  To obtain a Certificate of Entry and Exit Dates, please visit the Taiwan National Immigration Agency’s website for details.  If you have reported for passport lost, please also provide the police report.
  • One color photograph (5cmx5cm) taken within the last six months with a white or off-white background. Starting November 1, 2016, eyeglasses will no longer be allowed in visa photos. This web page has information about the required photo format.
  • Unless your J program is sponsored by the United States Government (with a program number beginning with G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-7), 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. ( AIT strongly advises all customers to bring cash, as our system does not always accommodate credit card transactions. Thank you.)
  • A printout of your appointment confirmation evidencing that you booked an appointment.  Please make sure the printed bar codes are clear.  Incomplete, incorrect, or unclear barcodes will NOT be accepted and will result in cancellation of your appointment.
  • If you have legally changed your name, or are under the age of 18, please bring your Taiwan Household Registration Record (listing entire immediate family with detailed notes).  If you are not a Taiwan resident, please bring your Taiwan Alien Resident Certificate or your Taiwan visa information.
  • Applicants in scientific fields, or with technical and scientific backgrounds, may be required to provide additional documents.  See the Administrative Processing webpage for details.
  • If you have been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime, please bring the police record or court documents to your interview.  (If the original record was not written in English, please also provide an English translation.)  Please also provide a Taiwan Police Criminal Record Certificate regardless of where you were arrested or convicted.
  • If you have abandoned your U.S. lawful permanent resident status (or green card), please provide proof of abandonment.
  • An approved DS-2019 from your U.S. program sponsor.  If the form has a typographic error in the biographic data, please request your sponsor to correct it in the SEVIS system.  J-1 applicants in Trainee and Intern categories also require a Form DS-7002.
  • If a payment is required, we highly recommend bringing your I-901 SEVIS Fee receipt to your visa interview to prove that the payment was processed correctly and to speed the payment verification process during your interview. 

You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer. 

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 American Institute in Taiwan in a sealed envelope. The American Institute in Taiwan 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:

  • Documents demonstrating strong financial, social, and family ties to your home country that will compel you to return to your country after your program of study in the United States ends.
  • 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.

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.

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 document titled Instructions for Form I-765 (PDF, 1.07 MB) that has more information. 

Supporting Documents for Dependents

If you have dependents, you must also provide:

  • Proof of your relationship to your spouse and/or child (e.g.,household registration record, 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.
  • If dependents apply for a visa at a later date, a copy of the principal applicant’s J-1 visa must also be presented with the application.

More Information

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