The J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa – Requirements and Supporting Documents

J-1 Visa Requirements

In order to apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa, you will need to submit the following requirements:

·      A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. You can find more information about the DS-160 here.

·      A passport that is valid for travel to the United States, with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States. In the case of more than one person being included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must submit their own application.

·      One (1) 2″x2″ (5cm x 5cm) photograph.

·      A receipt showing payment of the US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency, unless your Exchange Visitor Program is sponsored by the United States Government (program code beginning with “G”). In the case that a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa reciprocity fee, depending on nationality. You can find more information on visa reciprocity fees on the Department of State’s website.

·      An approved DS-2019 from your U.S. program.

·      Payment of Form I-901 SEVIS fee, unless Exchange Visitor Program is sponsored by the United States Government (program code beginning with a “G”). You can find more information on this on the SEVIS website.

·      An interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through the official Visa Application Service in the Philippines.

J-1 Visa Supporting Documents

While the above required documents are what you will need to present to a consular officer, you may also need to provide supporting documents. Supporting documents are only one of many factors that a consular officer will consider in your application. Consular officers consider each application individually, and consider professional, social, cultural, and other factors. They may look at your family history and situation, as well as long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. In order to present a strong case for your application, you may bring any of the following:

·      Documents demonstrating strong financial, social, and family ties to your home country that provide assurance that you will return to your home country after the closure of your program of study in the U.S.

·      Financial and other documents that will support your application and prove that you have enough readily-available funds to meet your expenses for the first year of study, as well as access to funds sufficient to cover all expenses while you are in the United States

·      Original copies of bank statements or original bankbooks. Photocopies of bank statements will not be allowed unless you can provide the former.

·      In the case that you are financially sponsored by another person, proof of your relationship to the sponsor (i.e. birth certificate), sponsor’s most recent original tax forms, and sponsor’s bankbooks and/or fixed deposit certificates.

·      Academic documents showing scholastic preparation. These include school transcripts (original copies preferred), public examination certificates, standardized test scores (SAT, TOEFL, etc.), and diplomas.

In the case of dependents, you must also provide:

·      Proof of relationship to spouse and/or child (i.e. marriage and/or birth certificates)

·      Each spouse or child must have their own Form DS-2019.

For more information about the Exchange Visitor Visa, you can visit the Department of State’s website.

J-1 Visa Interview Questions

Those planning to apply for a J-1 visa must also apply for an interview appointment with a consular officer at the U.S. embassy. All applicants between the ages of 14 to 79 are generally required to have an interview. An interview is not compulsory for those who fall outside of this age bracket.

In order to increase your chances of a successful application, you must prepare all required and supporting documents beforehand. A consular officer will speak with you and review your paperwork. The consular officer will be in charge of making the final decision as to whether or not you qualify for the J-1 visa. While each individual case is unique, overall it’s important to stress your plans to return to your home country after your program of study is completed.

Each interview is unique and will touch on a variety of factors, including your family ties, as well as academic or professional background. However, some common J-1 visa interview questions in the Philippines are listed below. You may review these questions and prepare your answers as well as supporting documents to better defend your case.

·      What is your purpose for going to the U.S.?

·      What are your qualifications?

·      Which university are you enrolled in or have you graduated from?

·      What program are you applying to?

·      Why are you applying to this program?

·      When did you apply for this program?

·      How much was your placement fee?

·      Who will be paying for your expenses while you are in the U.S.? How much do you/they make per year?

·      What is your housing situation in the U.S.?

·      What will you be doing in the U.S.?

You can also expect to get a digital scan of your fingerprints as part of your application. In the event that your visa is approved, you may also have to pay an additional visa issuance fee, depending on your nationality.

Click here for an overview of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa.

Click here for steps on how to apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa.