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J Visas -Exchange Visitors

Exchange Visitors Visas

An exchange visitor (J-1) visa is appropriate if you are going to the U.S. as part of an officially approved program sponsored by an educational or other non-profit institution.

The "J" exchange visitor program is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences. Participants include students at all academic levels; trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies; teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools; professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning; research scholars; professional trainees in the medical and allied fields; and international visitors coming for the purpose of traveling, observing, consulting, conducting research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs. In addition, there are several exchange visitor programs for young people, including summer employment programs, intern programs for university students, and au-pair programs. These programs are designated by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.


To obtain an exchange visitors visa, you must have:

  • Form DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility. It is completed and sent to you by the sponsoring organization in the U. S.
  • Proof of payment of the SEVIS fee. Refer to SEVIS Frequently Asked Questions for more information about SEVIS.
  • Sufficient funds to cover your expenses. If the sponsoring organization in the U. S. or your organization in Mexico will cover your expenses, please bring a sponsorship letter from them.
  • Adequate English language skills if coming to participate in a graduate medical education or training program.
  • Strong ties to the country in which you are applying for the visa and indications that you will leave the United States upon completion of your program.


Exchange visitors can apply for a visa at any time as long as the Form DS-2019 remains valid. However, the visitor may not enter the U. S. earlier than 30 days before the initial program start date. Applicants continuing on an exchange visitors program are not subject to this restriction.

The holder of an exchange visitor J-1 may remain for up to 30 days after the completion date on the DS-2019.

Additional Information

  • Refer to Steps to an NIV for information on the application process.
  • Refer to Cost of an NIV to determine if additional costs may apply.
  • If you are not a resident of Mexico, refer to Third Country Nationals to determine if you can apply for this visa class in Mexico.
  • Additional requirements for applicants going to the U.S. to follow a science or technology-related course of study.
  • Additional requirements for applicants going to the U.S. for graduate medical education or training.
  • J-1 Training Programs: While the J-1 training program may contain a small portion of productive work normally performed by a regular employee, the primary focus of the program must be training and skill development. The trainee may not replace or augment the regular staff by filling a position that would otherwise be held by a regular employee. Providing a detailed training plan is helpful in determining eligibility.

For more information about exchange visitor programs, visit the following web sites:

Important Information