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Obtaining A J Visa

Please know that visa stamps are available at U.S. embassies and consulates (or their equivalent) only. This means it is not possible to obtain a visa stamp within the U.S. The visa stamp serves a purpose only when entering the U.S. only; once in the U.S. the visa stamp may expire. One's visa stamp is not the same as one's immigration status; while the former may expire, the latter may not.

There is no abbreviated visa application process for individuals applying for a "renewal" visa. The application process is generally the same. Some consulates and embassies, on a pilot basis, are permitting "renewal" visa applicants to apply without a formal visa interview. Please consult with the embassy or consulate where you intend to apply whether this may be an option for you.

If you are only traveling to Canada or Mexico, you may be eligible for a process called Automatic Visa Revalidation.

Generally, to obtain a J visa, you will need the following documents:

  •     Original DS-2019
  •     Valid passport
  •     Financial support documents
  •     SEVIS I-901 Fee receipt
  •     DS-160 Fee receipt
  •     2 passport photos
  •     Invitation letter from VT
  •     DS-7002 only if you are a Student Intern category J-1
  •     Any other documents listed on your specific U.S. embassy/consulate website


Then, follow the steps below:

  1. Check that the information on your DS-2019 (name, birthdate, etc.) is correct and that all information matches your passport.  If you find any errors, please email ISS.
  2. Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee: J-1s only need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee for the initial J-1 visa and J-2 dependents do not need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee
  3. Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) and pay the application fee.  You may complete the DS-160 online.  The DS-160 fee may be paid online but some consulates/embassies require that you pay this fee at a local bank.  Please visit the U.S. embassy/consulate website where you will apply for the visa to determine how you should pay the DS-160 fee.  For more information about the DS-160, you may visit the DS-160 website.
  4. Make an appointment at the U.S. consulate/embassy.  It is usually best to apply for the J visa in your home country.  Please visit the U.S. embassy/consulate website where you will apply for the visa to find instructions on how to schedule an appointment.
  5. Attend the visa interview with the required documents. 
    1. During the visa interview you must demonstrate to the consular officer your non-immigrant intent by providing evidence that you have ties to your home country and will return home after your J-1 program. 
    2. You will not receive the visa on the day you attend the interview. 
    3. Some visas require extra security processing.  Please do not purchase your plane tickets until you have the visa. 
    4. If you are applying for your initial J visa to start your J program, please notify ISS and your VT Host Department if the visa processing time will delay your arrival more than 30 days past the start date on your DS-2019.  
  6. J-2 Dependents should go through the same process (except they should not pay the SEVIS fee) to obtain a J-2 visa.  Dependents bring their own documents and copies of the J-1’s documents if they apply for their visa separately.  Dependents should also bring proof of the relationship between themselves and the J-1 such as a birth certificate or marriage certificate.