Applying For Your J-1 Visa

You should present the following documents to a U.S. consular officer at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in your country to apply for a J-1 exchange visitor visa. Please refer to your U.S. Embassy or Consulate regarding visa processing times and appointment schedules. For more information about applying for your visa, visit the State Department’s web site.

Documents Needed for J-1 Visa

Passport: Passport should be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the end of your intended stay.

Form DS-2019: Form DS-2019, “Certificate of Eligibility,” is issued by The Office of International Programs at UTEP. Once you have the DS-2019, please read the instructions on the back of the form carefully, and sign it where indicated.

Non-Immigrant Visa Application forms

One (1) 2×2 photograph, passport quality and size

Financial Documents: Financial documents such as a job offer letter, funding letter from home government or institution, and/or a personal bank statements. Make sure that all supporting financial documents are on official bank letterhead and include name of account holder, type of account, date, account balance and type of currency. For more information, refer to the Confirmation of Financial Resources form under the Forms page.

Proof of Enrollment in Health Insurance: Federal Health Insurance Requirements for J-1 Exchange Visitors and their Dependents:

  • Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness;
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500;
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $10,000; and
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

Please refer to the Health Insurance Requirements page on our website for additional information.

Proof of Non-immigrant Intent: You may be required to show that you do not intend to remain in the United States beyond the end of your program date on your DS-2019. This can be done by presenting a return plane ticket, showing strong ties to your home country, etc.

SEVIS (Student & Exchange Visitor Information System) Fee: All Exchange Visitors applying for a J-1 visa whose DS-2019 is issued on or after September 1, 2004, are required to pay the SEVIS fee before going to the U.S. embassy or consulate for their visa interview. Applicants who are citizens of Canada or Bermuda, or residents of certain other islands wishing to apply for J-1 status at a Port of Entry into the United States must pay the SEVIS fee before entering the United States and show proof of payment. The SEVIS fee is US$180 for all J-I visa applicants; the fee cannot be paid at the consulate. Please note that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will not refund the SEVIS fee if J-1 applicants are not granted a visa or choose not to come to the United States after their visas are granted. There are three ways to pay the fee listed below.

The SEVIS Fee must be paid at least three business days prior to the visa interview date for both electronic and mail-in submissions. Adequate processing time must be allowed for payments to be recorded in the SEVIS system prior to the scheduled visa interview. The interviewing officer will confirm that the fee has been paid by accessing SEVIS. Please remember that you must bring the official paper receipt (I-797) or the Internet-generated receipt to the visa interview as proof of payment, as well as have it with you upon arrival in the United States.

1). Using the US Department of Homeland Security online resources for the SEVIS fee is the fastest way to pay the fee. You will be required to use a credit card and to complete the online Form I-901. This way allows you to print the SEVIS fee payment receipt from the Internet once the transaction is completed.

2). Mailing the completed Form I-901 through the mail with a check or money order from a U.S. Bank and payable in U.S. currency to the Department of Homeland Security address on the form. Express delivery service for the SEVIS I-797 receipt may be requested at additional cost. Further information is available online at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement webpage.

3). Western Union’s “Quick Pay” service is a third option for paying the SEVIS I-901 fee. This option is available in any country where Western Union offers Quick Pay service. The Western Union office collects the SEVIS I-901 fee in local currency, along with the Form I-901, and electronically transmits the payment and data to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Western Union office then issues a receipt that serves as immediate proof of payment for a visa interview at a U.S. consulate or for admission at a U.S. port of entry. Western Union’s Quick Pay form must be completed by following the instructions developed by DHS and Western Union. These detailed payment instructions, including samples of properly completed Quick Pay forms, are posted at the US ICE webpage.

What the Consular Officer will be looking for:

Every individual who applies for a non-immigrant visa to enter the U.S. is presumed by law to be an “intending immigrant.” This means that the U.S. Government takes the position that you do not plan to return to your home country after you complete your program. For this reason, you will need to show proof and you will need to convince the Consular Officer that you have close ties to your home country and plan to return. Failure to persuade the Consular Officer that you will return home is the most common reason for visa denial. We recommend that you be ready to provide proof of the following in addition to the required documents at the time of your visa interview:

  • Proof of a permanent residence abroad (i.e., in your home country) that you have no intention of abandoning;
  • Strong economic, social, and family ties to your home country;
  • The usefulness of your experience in the U.S. to your home country;
  • Adequate financial resources to support yourself and any accompanying family members;
  • Adequate knowledge of English.

The consular officer will issue the visa by placing a large sticker inside your passport. He or she will also return the two-page DS-2019 form to you for entry into the United States.

Please note that possession of a J-1 visa does not necessarily constitute permission to enter the United States. It is up to the consular office and the immigration officer at your port of entry to determine eligibility for J-1 status.

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