How much does the J-1 Visa cost?
The J1 visa allows non-US nationals to visit the USA to study or work temporarily as part of a J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program.
This visa category was created with the intention that individuals from around the world could visit the US to learn new skills and take part in educational and cultural exchanges.
The requirements for the J-1 visa include finding a sponsor for your visa and paying the relevant application fees.
This article is a guide for applicants and will include details on how much the J-1 visa costs, who is eligible and how to apply.
J-1 visa costs
There are various costs involved in the J-1 visa process.
Unless your sponsor is federally funded, they will normally charge you a program fee. These fees will vary and you should check with your sponsor before progressing your application what precisely is included in this charge. For example:
- Handling and shipping of your DS-2019 application.
- Health insurance for the duration of the J-1 visa period.
- Support service during your J-1 program.
J1 visa petitioning costs
To file your petition, you will need to pay:
- DS-160 filing fee of $160
- SEVIS fee of $220
Your sponsor may cover the SEVIS fee as part of their program fee, so you should check this.
If your dependents are applying to join you, J-2 fees will be payable for health insurance extension.
If you get a J1 visa with a waiver, you will need to pay an extra fee of $120 for a DS-3035 Application for Recommendation of a J1 Waiver.
You should check with your local consular if additional costs apply in relation to the petition processing, such as a biometrics handling fee.
Visa extension fee
The length of validity for your J1 visa will depend on your program, it can vary from 6 months up to 10 years or more. If you need an extension to your visa and it is approved by your sponsor, you will need to apply through a new DS-2019 and pay a fee of $367.
J1 visa eligibility
The J1 visa is different to other non-immigrant work visas as it does not require sponsorship from an employer. Instead, a holder of a J1 visa is sponsored by a program that partners with the Department of State.
These visas are often used by visiting students but there are some occupations that also qualify under the visa rules. As a guide, these are the type of occupations or visitors that would generally be included in a J1 visa program:
- Research scholar
- Secondary school student
- Au pair
- Government visitor
- International visitor
- Camp counselor
- Summer work travel visitor
Sponsors are obliged to screen and select suitable J-1 participants in accordance with their own eligibility criteria. This may mean being interviewed by your potential sponsor as part of the selection process.
In addition, all program participants must meet general English language proficiency requirements and to have medical insurance in place at the minimum benefit levels.
Your sponsor will check your medical insurance meets requirements and oversee the purchase of additional cover if needed. Failure to gain and maintain appropriate insurance could impact your eligibility for a place on the program.
It is also the responsibility of sponsors to give pre-arrival information, orientation on arrival and to monitor participants’ progress and welfare during the program.
How to apply for the J-1 visa
Before you apply, you will need to find a program that will sponsor your visit.
This could be a university, a service or an employer. They must be one of the designated Department of State sponsors.
This sponsor will be involved throughout your J-1 visa application process.
Once you are accepted onto a sponsor’s program, they will send you a DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. You should use this to complete a DS-160 Nonimmigrant Online Visa Application online. The next step is to arrange an interview at the US consulate or an embassy in your home country.
Even though you have been accepted onto a program and have a DS-2019, this does not automatically qualify you for the J-1 visa to travel to the US. The consular officer will consider your application and the information you provide at your interview, and must be satisfied you meet the visa requirements before granting the visa, or they can decide to refuse your application.
When you attend the interview you will need to take your SEVIS fee receipt with you. You should also take your original Form DS-2019 and your Form DS-160 confirmation page.
In addition you may be asked to show evidence of funds to cover your expenses in the US and that you have ties or commitments outside of the country to show you will be returning home after your program in the US has ended.
J1 visa waiver
Standard J1 visa rules state that you will be required to return to your home country for at least 2 years after your visa validity has ended. That means you cannot return to the US on any visa or apply for a green card during this period.
However, this cooling off period can be avoided if you obtain a J1 visa waiver.
You can qualify for a waiver if you obtain a statement of ‘no objection’ from your government in your home country, if a government agency in the US is interested in keeping you in the US, if you can show returning to your home country would be extremely detrimental to you or your family or if there is a likelihood you will suffer persecution in your home country.
J1 visa processing and travel times
You should apply for your visa as soon as you receive your Form DS-2019. J-1 visa processings time can vary from five days to several months.
If you are successful at your visa interview your passport will be kept until processing has been completed – as this can take anything from a week to a couple of months you should bear this in mind when making travel plans.
When you receive your visa, you can travel to the US up to 30 days before the start date on your Form DS-2019.
Do you have a question about the J1 visa costs?
NNU Immigration are a team of dedicated US immigration attorneys. We can advise on the immigration options open to you in your circumstances and will support you through the application process providing guidance on the documents to be submitted.
Completing the forms and negotiating the immigration process and visa interview can be a complex process. As you will need to pay for elements of the application at different stages of the process you may benefit from advice and support from a US immigration expert. An expert can help your complete your forms, ensure that fees are paid at the correct time and in the right place and ensure you are fully prepared with documents and knowledge for your embassy interview. This specialist support will give the best chance of J1 visa approval.
If you have a question about US immigration, contact us.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.