When internationals wish to visit the U.S., they are asked to declare the primary purpose for their visit. That declaration is made twice: once at the time of applying for a visa, and again at the port of entry when applying for status. There is a unique visa and corresponding status for each primary purpose identified by the U.S. government.
Thus, if your primary purpose for visiting the U.S. is not J-1 research or teaching, you should NOT apply for a J-1 visa or J-1 Exchange Visitor status. Always apply for the visa and corresponding status that best corresponds to your primary purpose for visiting the U.S.
Visa and Status: Know The Difference
Visa: A U.S. visa is official authorization affixed to a valid passport that allows entry into the U.S.
- You should think of your J-1 visa in the same way as you think of a key: You only use your visa to "open the door" and enter a secure space. Once in the U.S., you will no longer need your visa until the next time you wish to enter the U.S.
- You can only apply for a J-1 visa if you are outside of the U.S.
- Once you obtain a visa, you must show it to an officer from the Department of Homeland Security to enter the U.S. via a port of entry (such as an airport). By presenting your visa, you are applying for a related nonimmigrant status.
Status: Upon entry to the U.S., all Internationals are issued an I–94 card marked with their immigration status.
- When you enter the U.S., expect a Department of Homeland Security Officer to staple a small white card into your passport. This is called an I–94 Arrival Departure Record. The I–94 card is documentary evidence of the nonimmigrant status that you were granted upon entering the U.S.
- Remember that both your visa and your I–94 status are specific to the primary purpose of your visit to the U.S. The type of visa you hold determines the type of status you will receive. Your I–94 status will then determine which rules you must follow once you are actually in the U.S.
New International J-1 Professors or Scholars
For Internationals Outside the USA
You will need to visit the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country to apply for a J–1 Exchange Visitor visa to enter the U.S. The visa application process varies from country to country and can take from one day to many weeks for processing, so please plan ahead.
You should take the following documents with you to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy:
- Signed and dated original DS-2019
- Original letter of invitation from The New School
- Valid passport
- Original or certified copies of financial documents (with translations if needed)
- Recent passport-size photograph
- Evidence that you will maintain a residence abroad and intend to depart the U.S. after completing your program (This is critical to a successful visa application.)
- Proof of SEVIS Fee Payment if necessary (visit SEVIS fee section below for more information)
When you travel, you must have your original DS-2019 document with you to present to the U.S. government official upon arrival in the U.S. Do not place this and other travel documents in bags that will be checked; keep them with you or in a carry-on bag.
Citizens of Canada or the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda
Citizens of Canada or the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda do not need visas to enter the U.S., but they do need a DS-2019. They must also pay the SEVIS fee prior to arrival in the U.S. (www.fmjfee.com). At the U.S. port of entry, they must present proof of both their identity and citizenship. All travelers, including Canadian citizens, are required to have a valid passport for entry to the U.S. They will be issued an I-94 card and corresponding status. Refer to the same checklist as above for visa interviews regarding documents you will need to present at the port of entry. See more detailed information online.
Citizens of Canada traveling to the U.S. do not require a nonimmigrant visa, except for the purposes as described below.
- Foreign government officials (A), officials and employees of international organizations (G) and NATO officials, representatives and employees assigned to the U.S. as needed to facilitate their travel
- Treaty traders (E-1)
- Treaty investors (E-2)
- Fiancé/es (K-1)
- Children of fiancées (K-2)
- U.S. citizen's foreign citizen spouse, who is traveling to the U.S. to complete the process of immigration (K-3)
- Children of a foreign citizen spouse (K-4) described above
- Spouses of lawful permanent residents (V-1) traveling to the U.S. to reside here while they wait for the final completion of their immigration process
- Children of spouses of lawful permanent residents (V-2) described above
Permanent residents (aka landed immigrants) of Canada must have a nonimmigrant visa unless the permanent resident is a national of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), meets the VWP requirements, and is seeking to enter the U.S. for 90 days or less under that program.
Check to see if you must pay a SEVIS fee.
The U.S. government will charge a SEVIS fee before you may apply for a J–1 or J-2 visa. Citizens of all countries are required to pay the SEVIS fee. (Citizens of Canada and the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda also need to pay the SEVIS fee before entering the U.S.) As of the time of this web update, the SEVIS fee for J-1 Exchange Visitors is $180. Fees are subject to change. The SEVIS fee is payable online by credit or debit card, by international money order, or by check drawn on a financial institution in the United States and payable in United States currency.
Be sure to pay the SEVIS fee before entering the U.S. or visiting the U.S. Consulate or Embassy. To find out if you need to pay the SEVIS fee and to print out a receipt of payment (if you are paying on-line), visit www.fmjfee.com.
Proving ties to your home country.
When applying for your visa, be prepared with official documents to show that you will maintain a residence abroad and also that you intend to depart the U.S. after completing your program.
This evidence can include:
- If you or your family own a business, take letters from the bank describing the business, or documents showing that the business is registered and truly owned by you.
- If you or your family own property, take the deeds or papers showing ownership.
- If you or a family member have studied or done research in the U.S. and returned home, take a copy of your, her, or his diploma or research and a statement from your, her, or his employer.
- If you and your family have had numerous past visits to the U.S., take along passports—even old ones—to show that you have had many visas and many visits, but after every visit to the U.S. you still returned to your home country.
- If you have membership in a professional organization in your home country, bring proof of this membership.
- If you are currently employed and will return to this position, bring proof of this.
- If you have the prospect of a job offer, get a letter stating that you will be employed or will be considered for a job upon your return, or that people with the kind of Exchange Visitor status you are seeking are needed. Your goal is to show intent to return home after studying in the U.S.