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The J-1 visa is designed to facilitate a cultural exchange between the J-1 visa holder and the U.S. organization that hosts the visitor. J-1 visas are issued to individuals who seek to enter the U.S. for a temporary period in order to serve in one of the following capacities: teacher, professor or research scholar; short-term scholar; trainee or intern; secondary-school teacher, college or university student; nonacademic specialist; foreign physician; camp counselor; au pair; or summer student in a travel/work program.
J-1 visa applicants must obtain sponsorship from an agency designated as a J-1 sponsor by the U.S. Department of State. The sponsor is not the organization or agency where the J-1 visa holder will work, or serve as a trainee or intern. The J-1 sponsor is the agency that communicates the Department of State requirements to the J-1 applicant and approves the applicant to participate in the J-1 program. There are hundreds of sponsors in the U.S., each of which specializes in a limited number of J-1 exchange programs. For example, there are sponsors who specialize only in au pair programs, and sponsors who specialize only in business trainee and intern programs, and so on. The sponsor issues a special form to an approved J-1 applicant, the DS-2019, and the applicant uses that form to apply for a J-1 visa at a consulate overseas.
The J-1 visa has a lot of unique requirements, and the process of applying for the visa is very different than any other visa application process. Identifying an appropriate J-1 host and then locating a J-1sponsor are good first steps. But before you even start the process, it is helpful to have the full picture on what the various phases of this complicated process are.
Give yourself the tools you need to make the most informed decisions about applying for the J-1 visa: Find out how the process works, what training and "employment" options are available and the limitations on J-1 status. Click here to get all the information you need to successfully get your J-1 visa.
The J-1 Visa e-kit contains: