The J1 visa allows students and professionals the opportunity to learn more about their industry in the USA through a cultural exchange training program. This is especially helpful for workers in the hospitality industry as the USA is at the very forefront of hospitality innovation and professionality. Best of all, unlike similar traineeships across the globe, a J1 trainee will be required by law to earn, on average, the same as their American counterparts.
So, you have decided to take your career to the USA, that’s great! The USA is a beautiful country and has a tonne of opportunities for those brave enough to seek them out. However there is one pesky hurdle that tends to trip many prospective visitors. The Visa. Unless you are wanting to have a brief stint in the country without paid work, the visa process for any visa to the USA can be extremely complicated and difficult. Luckily Placement International has got your back! We have been assisting our students get the J1 visa for years and today I’m going to be sharing with you our method of doing so.
So to start: what is the J1 visa and why should you want it? The J1 visa allows students and professionals the opportunity to learn more about their industry in the USA through a cultural exchange training program. This is especially helpful for workers in the hospitality industry as the USA is at the very forefront of hospitality innovation and professionality. Best of all, unlike similar traineeships across the globe, a J1 trainee will be required by law to earn, on average, the same as their American counterparts. So now you know the appeal of the J1, how do you get it?
Step 1: Applying to your sponsor.
I am going to start by assuming you have already applied to Placement International and have gotten your position (as this process would require a whole other article entirely!) So, congratulations! You got the position and are ready to proceed to the visa process. Haven’t applied yet? Well you can use this link to make a profile on our website and start applying to traineeships in the USA and elsewhere!
Back to the topic at hand, once you have been granted the position you applied for, you will be referred to one of our visa specialists. This visa specialist will be your lifeline during the process, he/she will be answering all of your questions, submitting the documents and guiding you surely through the process.
Firstly, our team will assign you to one of our sponsor organizations. Sponsors are 3rd party organisations designated by the department of state to issue the documents necessary for getting the DS-2019 form ( If you would like to learn more about the sponsors, we wrote an article dedicated to them!) Your sponsor will ask you for documentation in order to begin. The documents will most likely vary depending on your sponsor but it will be something like this:
- Reference letter/s (with english translation if in a different language)
- Diploma from higher hospitality education and translation
- Educational transcripts and translation
- Passport copy at least 2 years from the current date
Once you have sent these documents to us, we will start the process of applying through your assigned sponsor!
Step 2: Getting Your DS-2019 form and Training plan
Once you have gotten through the process of applying through your visa sponsor, you will be assigned a DS-2019 form and a training plan. Your training plan will be created by Placement International in collaboration with your host company and visa sponsor. The purpose behind the training plan is to ensure that you begin your placement with accurate expectations as to what you will be doing during your placement and to ensure that you will learn enough during. Once the training plan has been created and approved by the sponsor, it will be sent to you and your host company for signatures. This will act as your “contract” throughout your stay in the USA ,so make sure you read it thoroughly!
Once your training plan is signed by all parties, you will be issued a DS-2019 by your sponsor, this is essentially the form that will be your “entry ticket” to the US border upon approval in your embassy interview (If you would like to learn more about it, we wrote another article about it here!) Between Placement International, your sponsor and you, we will arrange the delivery of your DS2019 directly to your home via courier
Step 3 Paying the Fees and booking the embassy appointment
Before you are able to have your DS- 2019 delivered, you must pay the SEVIS fee. SEVIS stands for Students and Exchange Visitors Information System and is the main database that the US government uses to monitor and regulate J1 visitors. You will need to pay this fee in order to get your DS2019. In the case of some sponsors, this fee will be paid for you by Placement International and/or the sponsor, however you will still need to receipt of the paid fee in order to proceed (we will ensure this is sent to you along with your DS form)
In addition to the SEVIS fee, you will also need to pay an additional fee directly to the embassy, this is called the DS160 fee. As the name suggests, this fee is $160 and can be paid directly to the US embassy. During the process, our team will direct you with filling in the form and paying the fee in your local currency via the embassy website. You can also find more information on our previous article here.
Now that you have paid the money for the appointment, we will direct you through the process of booking an appointment. At this point we will be ensuring that you have adequate time to have your embassy appointment and fly before the start date of your DS2019, to avoid a costly reprint. Often the waiting time for the embassy will vary from country to country, however not to worry! We will make sure to check your local embassy’s waiting time.
Step 4: The Appointment
This is arguably the most daunting stage of the process (this is why I gave it a suitably foreboding name!) but it is one that the majority of candidates tend to succeed in providing their documents are in order, so don’t worry too much about it!
So, speaking about documents, you will need to make sure to prepare all of them correctly before the big day. They are as followed:
- Your passport
- Two (2) passport photos – check U.S. Embassy website for dimensions
- Your DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status, obtained from the program sponsor in the United States and your DS-7002 Form or Training Plan
- Your printed SEVIS fee receipt, which is generated when you pay for your SEVIS fee
- Evidence of financial resources
Don’t worry if you don’t have all of them now, many you will only be able to get from your sponsor and the rest we will make sure are in top condition before going in.
While most of those who apply to the J1 with the correct documents do indeed pass, it is not a guaranteed success. There will be a short character interview in which the officer will ask you various questions. The questions will tend to vary depending on the officer and embassy, but in general they are trying to figure out the answer to the following questions:
Will you return home after your training program finishes?
Are you going to the USA for the correct reasons? (As mandated by the J1 visa)
These are generally the two main things that officers are looking for and they will ask you various questions to determine whether or not you understand the purpose of the visa you are applying for; Whether you have a professional interest to train in the USA and that you have the financial means to sustain yourself and return to your home country.
Does this sound daunting yet? Well don’t worry! Our visa team will make sure to have a coaching call to make sure you fully understand how you should act and answer the questions given to you. You can also find out more here
Step 5 Departure
Congratulations, you did it!! We are all very proud of you, never doubted you for a second! So now you have the visa, it is time to make preparations for your departure. You should inform our team as soon as you have gotten the visa so we can congratulate you and inform your host company to expect you on your start date.
Once you have informed us of your success we will also book a call with you, talking through step by step what you should do upon arrival in order to activate your SEVIS status and start your program without issue. Certain hotels will arrange for your airport pick up, otherwise we will point you in the right direction to make the transition as smooth as possible.
The process of getting a traineeship in the USA can be daunting, time consuming and confusing, this is why we are here to help you through not just being hired, but the visa process too! If you would like to find out how we can help you too, then just submit your CV here and we will assist you