Exchange Visitor Visa -There are many types of US visas for foreign citizens who want to enter the US. It’s very important that one gets familiar with them so one can apply for the correct one.
Overall, the intention of your visit is the main determining factor about what type of visa you need.
The main categories of US visas are two:
- Immigrant visas
- Non-immigrant visas
In short, if the intention of your visit is to immigrate to the US then you must check for your visa in the first category. Otherwise, you must apply for a non-immigrant visa.
A relatively high number of US visa applications collected every year are EXCHANGE VISITOR VISAS.
But the question is: What is the exchange visitor visa?
Here’s everything you need to know about US exchange visitor visas.
What Is An Exchange Visitor Visa?
It is a type of US non-immigrant visa you need if you want to enter the US to participate in a recognized exchange visitor program.
Below is a list of program categories for which you need
- Au Pair
- Camp Counselor
- College and University Student
- Government Visitor
- International Visitor
- Research Scholar
- Secondary School Student
- Short-Term Scholar
- Summer Work Travel
- Teacher and
SIDE NOTE: Also, exchange visitor visas are also referred to as J-1 visas.
US Exchange Visitor (J-1) Visa Requirements
Prior to application, you must accept an exchange offer from a recognized institution in the US. In addition, they have to register you at the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). On the contrary, you’re not eligible to apply for an exchange visitor visa (J-1).
On the application day you have to bring the following documents:
- VALID PASSPORT
- DS-160 APPLICATION FORM (You find this online on the website of the embassy)
- PROOF OF FEE PAYMENT
- PERSONAL PHOTO (you need this if you didn’t provide it when you filled the application form online)
- DS-2019 FORM – The US institution offering you the exchange program is expected to first provide your data to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (shortly SEVIS) database. In return, he will get this DS-2019 FORM and forward it to you.
After you have met all the requirements it’s time to submit your visa application. First, you have to complete the online application via the embassy’s website.
Your application form must contain a valid pass photo as well. If you don’t upload a photo online, you’re required to bring it in person on the interview day.
Print out the application form and attach it to your application file. Finally, you must request an interview appointment at the US embassy in your home country. You can do this on their online website.
Important note: Wait time for an appointment varies. It depends on the activity of the US embassy in a particular location. Therefore, in order for you to be on time with your plans, we recommend that that you request an appointment as early as possible.
Exchange Visitor Visa Application Fees
Of course, there’s an application fee you must pay when applying for an exchange visitor visa. There are two kinds of such fees.
- The application fee – you must pay this for the embassy to consider your application file. Typically it costs $160. Nevertheless, its cost varies among embassies in different locations. Therefore you must request information at the local US embassy in your country. Also, you must note that it’s non-refundable.
- Issuance fee – If the embassy approves your application then an issuance fee you might have to pay. However, applicants of certain countries are exempt to this scheme. The embassy can provide you this information.
What is an exchange visitor visa (J-1) and what is a visitor visa (Q-1)? – Different types of US visas can often confuse one. In particular, the difference between an exchange visitor visa and a visitor visa is common among visa applicants. In short, Q-1 visas are aimed at cultural exchange programs. The applicant must find a job or a training program beforehand under the sponsorship of a US employer and on the condition that cultural exchange is provided. On the other hand, an exchange visitor visa is a broader category.
How long can one stay in the US on an exchange visitor visa? – You can stay in the US as long as it takes the program to finish. This may range from several weeks to a few years.
What format must my application photos be? – Your application photos must meet certain requirements. Otherwise, you will have to provide other ones. A valid photo must have 22mm x 35 mm dimensions. However, you don’t need to worry about this because there usually is a crop tool incorporated on the embassy’s website.
Is an interview mandatory? – In general, an interview is mandatory. However, there may be exceptions. For instance, children under 13 are in most cases not invited to one. Likewise, this rule applies to people aged over 80.