Exchange Visitors (J-1)
The information on this site is applicable to visa applications made at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin. Those making applications at other U.S. Embassies or Consulates should consult the websites for those missions.
If you reside in Northern Ireland, visit the U.S. Consulate General Belfast web site for information about applying for a visa at the U.S. Consulate General, Belfast.
The State Department has an educational and cultural exchange website that contains a wealth of information on the types of programs that are available and on finding an accredited organization to sponsor your exchange. For comprehensive information about Exchange Visitor (J) Visas and Exchange Visitor Categories visit the Department of State's New J1 Exchange Visitor Visa Website and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) website.
Links to USG Federal Agencies:
- The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)
- Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA)
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
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The Immigration and Nationality Act provides two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States. The "J" visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the U.S. Department of State, Exchange Visitor Program and Designation Staff, and the "Q" visa is for international cultural exchange programs designated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
The J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) provides opportunities for nearly 300,000 foreign visitors a year to experience the United States, its society and culture and connect with Americans. Through one of fifteen different types of J-1 Visa exchange programs, EVP participants may teach, study, conduct research, share their specialized skills, or receive on-the-job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years. These programs are sponsored by over 1,450 for-profit, non-profit, or federal, state, or local government entities designated by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).
EVP participants are students, professionals, entrepreneurs, and leaders eager to hone their skills, strengthen their English abilities, connect with Americans, and learn more about the United States. All J-1 Visa exchanges include a cross-cultural component to their programs which gives participants the opportunity to engage more broadly with Americans and share their own cultures with their U.S. host communities. They return home eager to stay connected, to expand their networks, and to explore future exchange opportunities as “citizen ambassadors.”
Important Notice: J applicants must read and understand the contents of the Legal Rights and Protection Pamphlet.
The "Q" international cultural exchange program is for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of the participant's home country in the United States.
Participants in the "J" exchange visitor program must have sufficient funds to cover all expenses, or funds must be provided by the sponsoring organization in the form of a scholarship or other stipend. "Q" exchange visitors will be paid by their employing sponsor at the same rate paid to local domestic workers similarly employed.
"J" exchange visitors must have sufficient scholastic preparation to participate in the designated program, including knowledge of the English language, or the exchange program must be designed to accommodate non-English speaking participants. The "Q" exchange visitor must be 18 years old and be able to communicate effectively about the cultural attributes of his or her country.
Medical Education and Training
Exchange visitors coming under the "J" program for graduate medical education or training must meet certain special requirements. They include having passed the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in Medical Sciences, demonstrating competency in English, being automatically subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement (later), and being subject to time limits on the duration of their program. Physicians coming to the United States on exchange visitor programs for the purpose of observation, consultation, teaching, or research in which there is little or no patient care are not subject to the above requirements.
J-1 Visas - Forms and Petitions
- Participants in the "J" program must present a Form DS-2019 prepared by a designated sponsoring organization. The completed Form DS-2019 must match exactly the name and date of birth in your passport.
- Proof that the SEVIS fee has been paid is also required. Click on "Paying the SEVIS Fee" on the right-hand Feature Box for information on method of payment.
- A Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002. All exchange visitor (J visa) trainee or intern visa applicants with DS-2019 forms dated on or after July 19, 2007 must also present Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002 (issued by the sponsoring organization) when applying for your visa. If your Form DS-2019 is issued prior to July 19, 2007 a Form DS-7002 is not required. For more information about the rules for trainee and intern programs, see the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Exchange Visitor Program, Private Sector Programs.
Participants in the "Q" program must have the designated sponsoring organization file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The USCIS will notify the sponsor on Form I-797 when the petition is approved. Petition approval is now also verified in the Department of State's system called Petition Information Management Service (PIMS). If the petition approval is not entered and verified in PIMS, the visa cannot be issued and this can result in delays in the visa application process. In order to verify the petition approval, the Embassy will need the approved I-129 petition receipt number. It is preferable, although not essential, to have this receipt number available when you are scheduling your visa appointment via our call center.
- Please Note: The beneficiary's name and date of birth must match exactly the name and date of birth in the beneficiary's passport.
- It should be noted that the approval of a petition does not guarantee visa issuance to an applicant found to be ineligible under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The nonimmigrant visa application form lists classes of persons who are ineligible under U.S. law to receive visas. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable as an exchange visitor, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved. Such applications include persons who have been afflicted with a disease of public health significance; a mental disorder; drug addicts / abusers; persons who have a criminal conviction(s); persons that have been denied entry into or deported from the United States. In these instances visa applications will take longer to process to conclusion and we advise the applicants to apply for the visa well in advance of any planned travel to allow sufficient time for processing the application. You will be advised at the time of the interview if your application requires additional processing.
Applicants for exchange visitor visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence. Follow this link for information on APPLYING FOR THE VISA
For the "J" applicant, a completed Form DS-2019. Again, the completed DS-2019 must match exactly the name and date of birth in your passport.
For the "Q" applicant, the I-129 petition receipt number of the petition your employer filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) on your behalf. Petition approval is now verified in the Department of State's system called Petition Information Management Service (PIMS). If the petition approval is not entered and verified in PIMS, the visa cannot be issued and this can result in delays in the visa application process. In order to verify the petition approval, the Embassy will need the approved I-129 petition receipt number. It is preferable, although not essential, to have this receipt number available when you are scheduling your visa appointment via our call center.
Both "J" and "Q" applicants must demonstrate to the consular officer that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country which they have no intention of abandoning, and that they are coming to the United States for a temporary period. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since applicants' circumstances vary greatly.
U.S. Port of Entry
Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) of the Department of Homeland Security has authority to deny admission. Also, the period for which the bearer of an exchange visitor visa is authorized to remain in the United States is determined by the USCBP, not the consular officer. At the port of entry, a USCBP official validates Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted.
Employment while in "J" exchange visitor status depends upon the terms of the program. Participants in programs which provide for on-the-job training, teaching, research, or other activities which involve paid employment may accept such employment. Participants in programs which do not involve work may not accept outside employment. The "Q" international cultural exchange program specifically authorizes paid employment as part of the program.
Foreign Residency Requirement
Certain "J" exchange visitors who participate in programs which were financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the U.S. Government or by the exchange visitor's government, or who are nationals or residents of a country which have been designated by Department of State Education and Cultural Affairs Bureau as requiring the skills of the exchange visitor, must return to their country of nationality or last residence after completing their program in the United States, and reside there physically for two years before they may become eligible to apply for an immigrant or temporary worker visa. "Q" exchange visitors may not particpate in another "Q" program until they have been abroad for one year.
The spouse and minor children of participants in "J" exchange programs may apply for derivative "J-2" visas to accompany or follow to join the principal alien by presenting a copy of the principal's Form DS-2019. They must demonstrate that they will have sufficient financial resources to cover all expenses while in the United States. Dependents may apply to the USCIS for authorization to accept employment in the U.S. The "Q" exchange program does not provide for the admission of the spouse or children of a participant in a derivative status.
Questions about the "J" programs, Form DS-2019, and the ability to change programs or extend within a program should be made to the Department of State, Education and Cultural Affairs Bureau, Exchange Visitor and Program Designation Staff, Washington, D.C. Questions about "Q" petitioning procedures, qualifications for various classifications, and conditions and limitations on employment should be made by the prospective employer or agent in the United States to the nearest USCIS office.
Information about the visa application process may be obtained by following this link to the Visa Information Service.
J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Programs
PAYING THE SEVIS FEE
• The SEVIS fee must be paid before you attend the Embassy for an interview. For further information including the method of payment, please visit the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website.
• Fact Sheet: I-901 SEVIS Fee for F, M, and J Nonimmigrant Students and Exchange Visitors.