Applying for the J-1 visa
1 Check your passport’s validity, it must be valid for at least six months after your arrival in the USA.
Once the Office of Global Services has processed the DS-2019, the SEVIS contact will be notified to retrieve it from the Office of Global Services and mail it to the scholar via FedEx, or another secure international carrier. By law, we are not allowed to electronically distribute copies of Form DS-2019.
The scholar should review the DS-2019 carefully immediately upon receipt and contact the Office of Global Services if there are any errors on the form. In order to make an appointment at a USA Consulate abroad to obtain the J-1 visa, the consulate will request the SEVIS identification number, which is found in the upper right hand corner of Page 1 of the DS-2019. Consulates will also typically ask for the program sponsor number, which is the number beginning with “P,” and is also located on Page 1, Section 2 of the DS-2019. If all of the information on the DS-2019 is correct, the scholar should sign their name in the appropriate space on the form, at the bottom. It’s important not to make any other extraneous notations on the form.
If the scholar has J-2 dependents (spouse, children under the age of 21) traveling at the same time, they will receive their own DS-2019 to assist with their application(s) for J-2 visa(s).
For more information on the SEVIS fee and other issues related to obtaining a visa, scholars should review the pre-arrival instructions for J-1 scholars.
The scholar should pay close attention to the start date in Section 3 of the DS-2019 because entry to the USA in J-1 scholar status or J-2 dependent status is only permitted up to 30 days before and up to 30 days after this start date. If it will not be possible to enter the USA and report to the Office of Global Services (by attending one of the weekly J-1 Immigration Clearance Sessions) by the program start date or shortly after, please notify the Office of Global Services as soon as possible. If the scholar’s program start date must be changed, please submit the “Start Date Amendment Request” to the Office of Global Services. This requires an updated appointment letter.
Start date amendments before scholar’s entry to USA:
If the faculty host and scholar must change appointment dates due to visa delay, security checks (administrative processing) or other extenuating circumstances, or change financial information after the submission of the J-1 packet to the Office of Global Services or issuance of the DS- 2019 but before the scholar’s entry to the USA, they must notify the Office of Global Services immediately.
If appointment date changes are requested, a new appointment letter is required, and the SEVIS contact must submit a start date amendment Request via myOGS. Once the request is reviewed and processed, a new DS-2019 with new dates will be issued. The Office of Global Services processing time is 10 business days.
NOTE: It’s important for all parties to be made aware of any changes so that they can coordinate changes concurrently.
2 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee.
You must pay this fee before your J-1 visa appointment or before entering the USA if you are a Canadian citizen and do not require a visa. For complete and detailed information, please refer to the I-901 SEVIS Fee website.
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee is required for prospective J-1 scholars with “begin new program” indicated on their DS-2019 and who are applying for an initial J-1 visa from outside the USA. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee is not required:
- If you are currently in valid J-1 immigration status
- If you are transferring to a new J-1 sponsor
- For J-2 dependents
3 Make an appointment...
…at the nearest USA Embassy or USA Consulate for a visa interview. You must obtain your J-1 visa before coming to the USA to begin your program as a J-1 scholar.* Entering with any other type of visa will invalidate your J-1 status. In anticipation of your visa appointment, please follow the instructions for obtaining your J-1 visa at your local USA Embassy or USA Consulate.
*Canadian citizens are not required to obtain visas, but must carry and present all their J-1 documents when entering the USA to receive J-1 status.
- Visa application fee: Check with the USA Embassy or USA Consulate about the visa application fee and payment options. (Visit the website of the specific USA Embassy or USA Consulate where you will apply for your visa and familiarize yourself with the process)
Remember that the DS-2019 does not guarantee a USA visa. At your interview, you will be asked about your plans, ties to your home country, future career objectives, and your financial situation.