J Visas – Cultural Exchanges
The J visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs 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;
- international visitors coming for the purpose of travel, observation, consultation, research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs.
Before applying for J visa, visitors must first apply to and be accepted by a SEVP approved school. Visit the Department of State EducationUSA website to learn about educational opportunities and the DHS website Study in the States school search page to search for SEVP-certified schools.
When accepted by the U.S. school they plan to attend, students will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee, at least three business days before the consular interview. The U.S. school will provide them with information about this fee and will issue Forms DS-2019 for the principal applicant and family members to present, in original, to the consular officer at the visa interview. Each family member must obtain individual Form DS-2019s and follow the visa application procedures, but they do not pay the SEVIS fee. Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.
Students under J visas are not permitted to enter the United States earlier than 30 days before the start date of their program.
Spouse and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) who intend to reside with the principal applicant during the course of study may apply for a J2 visa. Although SEVIS fee payment is not required, the school must issue them an individual Form DS-2019, which is required to apply for their visas. Copy of the principal applicant’s visa and proof of relationship must be provided. Minor children are permitted to attend school in the United States while accompanying the principal applicant, under the J2 visa.
NOTE: U.S. government sponsored exchange visitor (J visa) applicants and their dependents are not required to pay application processing fees if participating in a Department of State, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), or a Federally funded educational and cultural exchange program which has a program serial number beginning with G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-7 printed on Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. U.S. government sponsored exchange visitor (J visa) applicants and their dependents are also not required to pay applicable issuance fees.
Application procedures for J visas
- Complete the DS-160 online application available at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/ and print the confirmation page (to bring to the interview)
- Create an account on this website: https://usvisa-info.com;
- Pay the non-refundable MRV fee online;
- Schedule an interview appointment with a consular office.
- Attend your interview appointment and bring all pertinent documentation:
- Confirmation page of form DS-160
- Valid passport;
- One passport size photo for each visa applicant, including infants (see the “Photo Requirements” webpage);
- Original form DS-2019 issued from the school, duly completed, dated and signed
- SEVIS payment receipt;
- Financial documentation that demonstrates the economic means to finance the entire course of study and stay in the U.S. Examples of such documentation are: pay slips, tax returns, bank statement of the applicant or applicant’s parents;
- Documentation that demonstrates social and family ties to Italy. Such documents might include: original residence permit for foreigners, certificate of residence, family status, marriage certificate, contract of sale or lease of property, etc…
- Participants in J-1 Trainee and Intern programs only, need to present Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002, in addition to the Form DS-2019.
- If approved, the visa is issued within two or three working days, and the passport is forwarded to DHL. After a maximum of another three working days, the passport will be available for collection at the DHL location selected during the online registration process (on average about five working days after the interview). If you select the home delivery option, delivery will take a few business days longer.
- Once your passport is at the DHL location, you will receive an e-mail by DHL with instructions on how to pick it up.
- If the visa is denied, your passport will be returned to you at the conclusion of the interview, along with a letter explaining the reasons for the visa refusal.