J-1 Visas

J-1 Visas

FAQ's

The Summer Work Travel program provides foreign students with an opportunity to live and work in the United States during their summer vacation from college or university to experience and to be exposed to the people and their way of life in the United States.


What is the purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program (J-1 visa program)?

The Exchange Visitor Program is carried out pursuant to the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, as amended. Its purpose is to foster mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through educational and cultural exchanges. All exchange visitors are expected to return to their home country upon completion of their program in order to share their exchange experiences with people in their home country.

What is the form DS-2019?

The Form DS-2019 is the "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status". The Form DS-2019 is a controlled document which only State Department-designated sponsors are authorized to issue to foreign nationals (prospective exchange visitors). They are screened and selected for participation in the State Department-designated exchange visitor program. Foreign nationals (prospective exchange visitors) then apply at a US. embassy or consulate for the J-1 exchange visitor visa to participate in their prospective sponsor's exchange visitor program. Issuance of the J-1 visa, like all non-immigrant visas, is at the discretion of Consular Officers viewing visa applications at US embassies and consulates.

What is the Form DS-7002?

The Form DS-7002 is the "Training/Internship Placement Plan" (T/IPP). It is a controlled document which only sponsors designated by the State Department for the "trainee" and "intern" exchange visitor program categories are authorized to issue to foreign nationals they have screened and selected for participation in their designated exchange visitor program. Such sponsors must complete and sign the T/IPP for each trainee or intern before issuing the Form DS-2019. The T/IPP ensures that trainees are participating in bona fide training and that interns are participating in work-based learning, both of which are permitted while ordinary employment and unskilled labor are not permitted using the J-1 visa for training and internship purposes. In addition to presenting their DS-2019 to U.S. embassy or consulate Consular Officers at the time of application for the J-1 visa, prospective trainees and interns must also present their fully executed DS-7002 when requested by the reviewing Consular Officer.

Do all exchange visitors have to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee?

Most exchange visitors are required to pay a one-time SEVIS fee of $180 (US currency). For the Summer Work/Travel the fee is $35. All those applying for a J-1 visa for initial participation in a program must pay this fee. In addition, those already in the United States applying for a change of status to J-1 must pay the fee, as does an exchange visitor applying for a change of category.

What is the visa interview like?

Once the exchange visitor receives the Form DS-2019 from the sponsor, they must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and make a visa appointment at the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest their home. At the visa appointment, the consular officer will determine whether the potential exchange visitor qualifies for the visa. Applicants must demonstrate that they properly meet the requirements to be issued an exchange visitor visa, including the following:

  • That they plan to remain in the United States for a temporary, specific, limited period
  • Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States
  • Evidence of compelling social and economic ties to their home country

Which documents are most important for the exchange visitor?

The critical documents that each exchange visitor must protect for the duration of their stay in the United States are:

  • All Forms DS 2019 issued
  • Passport

When can exchange visitors enter the United States prior to the start of their exchange program? And, when must exchange visitors depart the United States by after the completion of their exchange program?

Two 30 day periods govern an exchange visitor's authorized stay in the United States. The first 30-day period occurs before an exchange visitor's program begin/start date stated on the exchange visitor's Form DS-2019. The second 30-day period occurs after the exchange visitor's successful completion of the program end date stated on his/her Form DS-2019. Both periods relate to non-immigrant visa holders' immigration status in the United States. In addition, the 30-day periods (before and after the actual exchange visitor program start/end dates) fall under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

How does an exchange visitor "Maintain Program Status"?

Exchange visitors are admitted to the United States for a specific period of time to engage in a particular program (activity), as described on their Form DS 2019. Exchange visitors must maintain lawful (J-1) program status, as failure to do so can have serious long-term consequences. 

Key Reminders:

  • Exchange visitors must know the expiration date of their program (the end date in section 3 of the DS 2019 Form) and the expected departure date. If regulations permit and the Exchange visitors J-1 program is extended, the sponsor must use SEVIS to change the end date on the Form DS 2019 prior to the expiration date of the original Form, reprint the Form, sign it in blue ink and give it to the exchange visitor.
  • When traveling outside the United States, exchange visitors must first obtain a "travel signature" on the Form DS 2019 to facilitate re-entry. Exchange visitors should be reminded to retain all copies of Form DS-2019 with their immigration papers.
  • Exchange visitors must never accept unauthorized employment.
  • Exchange visitors must comply with the Department of State’s health insurance requirements for J-1 visa holders and their families. Wilful disregard of this requirement will result in termination of the J-1 program.
  • Exchange visitors must keep their passports valid. Passports can be renewed by foreign embassies in Washington D.C. and foreign consulates in other cities. For information about embassies, see http://www.embassy.org.

What does the notation "D/S" on the I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, mean?

Exchange visitors (J-1) are admitted to the United States for the period of time necessary to complete their program, and are given the notation "D/S" (Duration of Status) on their I-94 Arrival/Departure Record by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration officials at the port of entry into the United States. For non-immigrants admitted with Duration of Status, unlawful presence in the United States begins to accrue on the date DHS finds a status violation while adjudicating a request for an immigration benefit (for example, a request for a change of status), or when an immigration judge finds a status violation during proceedings. For non-immigrants admitted with a date certain (as opposed to D/S), unlawful presence begins to accrue on the date the Form I-94 expires.

Who should I contact about a problem I am having regarding my J-1 exchange visitor program?

You should contact Placement International and your J-1 program sponsor. Your sponsor is responsible for assisting and advising you on all matters regarding your J-1 exchange visitor program.

Who should I contact about traveling outside of the United States during my J-1 exchange visitor program?

You need to contact your J-1 program sponsor regarding your travel plans. Your sponsor must authorize your travel prior to your departure from the United States.

How long can I remain in the United States after my J-1 exchange visitor program ends?

Two 30 day periods govern an exchange visitor's authorized stay in the United States. The first 30-day period occurs before an exchange visitor's program begin/start date stated on the exchange visitor's Form DS-2019. The second 30-day period occurs after the exchange visitor's successful completion of the program end date stated on his/her Form DS-2019. Both periods relate to non-immigrant visa holders' immigration status in the United States.

What will happen to my J-1 visa status if I withdraw from my exchange visitor program?

If you plan to withdraw from your program you must notify Placement International and your program sponsor. If you withdraw, your program sponsor will enter this information into SEVIS and you will be expected to depart the United States immediately. You will not be entitled to the post-completion 30 day period because you did not successfully complete your program.

What will happen to my J-1 visa status if my exchange visitor program sponsor terminates my exchange visitor program?

If your sponsor terminates you for just cause, they will enter this information into SEVIS and you will be expected to depart the United States immediately. You will not be entitled to the post-completion 30 day period because you did not successfully complete your program

Will I have to pay taxes on my salary if I am working and receiving wages while on a J-1 visa?

Yes, you will need to pay taxes on any salary/wages earned while utilizing the J-1 visa in the United States.

How do I know if I am subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement (Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act)?

You should contact the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs (Waiver Review Division) for assistance. The Public Inquiries telephone number to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visa Office, is (202) 663-1225. Their website is: http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1288.html.

How can I apply for a waiver of the two-year foreign residency requirement (Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act)?

You should contact the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs (Waiver Review Division) for assistance. The Public Inquiries telephone number to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visa Office, is (202) 663-1225. Their website is: http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1288.html.

Who should I contact regarding problems I am having securing a Social Security card?

You should contact the Social Security Administration.


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