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Documents Needed to Apply for a U.S. Exchange Visitors Visa

Jennifer ArandaOriginally posted on February 14, 2017; updated February 14, 2017

Documents Needed to Apply for a U.S. Exchange Visitors Visa

Length of stay before and after program start date.

Like student visa holders, exchange visitors can not be admitted 30 days before the start of their program UNLESS you intend to travel on a valid B visa.

The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act § 212 (e) states  that certain "J" exchange visitors should return to their last country of residence immediately after the completion of training/education and take residence in said country for at least two years.

Documentary requirements for the consular interview.

Even if you are accepted by an authorized program sponsor and have been issued a Form DS-2019, you will still have to apply for your J-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy.

When applying for a student visa, you must meet various visa requirements aside from the SEVIS.  Some of these requirements are:

  • Passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your period of stay in the United States unless you are exempt by country-specific agreements;
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application confirmation page and your application fee payment receipt;
  • Photo. If you were unable to upload it together with your Nonimmigrant Visa Application, then you'll have to bring one to your interview;
  • Proof that you have been accepted into a program. You will need both pages of the bar-coded, original SEVIS generated Form I-20 and payment of the SEVIS fee.  You will also need your Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002;
  • Academic credentials including relevant English language test results if required by the academic institution;
  • Financial evidence proving that you or your parents have sufficient funds to cover your living expenses for the entire duration of your program, regardless of its length;
  • Academic credentials and professional credentials.   These documents will establish that you are qualified to apply as an Exchange Visitor;
  • Evidence that you will be departing from the United States after you complete your Exchange Visitor Visa.  You may have to prove your intention to return to your home country.

Length of stay before and after program start date.

Like student visa holders, you cannot be admitted 30 days before the start of your program UNLESS you intend to travel on a valid B visa.  You will also have an additional 30 days after the program end date listed on your Form DS-2019.  This should allow you sufficient time for domestic travel in the United States and/or to prepare for and departure.

The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act § 212 (e) states  that certain "J" exchange visitors should return to their last country of residence immediately after the completion of training/education and take residence in said country for a cumulative period of at least two years.  This is called the "Two-year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement."

You will be subject to this two-year foreign residence requirement under the following conditions:

  • If you are part of a government funded exchange program that was financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly by the United States government or your government;
  • You are going to receive graduate medical education or training;
  • You are a citizen or permanent resident of a country which has identified your field of specialized knowledge or skill as necessary to the development of your country.

If you are not able to fulfill the Two-year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement, you might be able to apply for a waiver.  The bases upon which you can apply for a waiver are as follows:

  • No Objection Statement from your home country;
  • Request by an Interested U.S. Federal Government Agency;
  • Persecution in your home country when you return;
  • Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. Citizen (or lawful permanent resident) Spouse or Child of an Exchange Visitor; and
  • Request by a Designated State Public Health Department or its Equivalent (Conrad State 30 Program).
  • You won't know this but your program sponsor may extend your program up to its maximum length. If an extension is granted, a new Form DS-2019 will be issued to you reflecting the change.

Authors & Contributors

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer S. Aranda is the COO of IVC Immigrant Visa Center, Inc.

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