Here is everything you need to know about the J1 visa process! There are 5 important steps outlined and all the information about how Placement International can hep you.
The J1 visa allows students and professionals to learn more about their industry in the United States through a cultural exchange program. This is especially helpful for hospitality workers, as the U.S. is at the forefront of innovation. Unlike similar internships around the world, a J1 intern will be required by law to earn, on average, the same salary as their American counterparts!
So if you have decided to study abroad in the United States, this is a great opportunity! Not only is the USA a beautiful country, it also offers exceptional experiences. However, there is one obstacle that tends to trip up many potential visitors: the visa process.
If this alone is enough to make you think twice, we don't blame you, but we can help! You can already sign up here to receive personalized J1 assistance from our team.
Unless you want your stay in the US to be short and unpaid, the visa process can be extremely difficult. Fortunately, Placement International is here to help! For years, we have been helping our students obtain a J1 visa, and today we are sharing our steps!
What is the J1 visa and why do you need it?
The J1 visa allows students and professionals to learn more about their industry in the United States through a cultural exchange program. This is especially useful for hospitality workers, as the U.S. is at the forefront of innovation and professionalization. Best of all, a J1 intern will earn an excellent salary, same as an American. Now that you know the appeal of the J1, how do you get it?
Step 1: apply to your sponsor
I'm going to start by assuming that you've already applied to International Placement and got your dream job! Now you are ready to move on to the visa process. Haven't applied yet? You can use this link to create a profile on our website and apply for internships in the US and elsewhere!
Once you have secured the position you applied for, you will be referred to one of our visa specialists. The visa specialist will be your lifeline throughout the process, answering all of your questions, submitting documents, and guiding you through the process.
First, our team will assign you one of our sponsoring organizations. Sponsors are third-party organizations designated by the Department of State to issue the documents to obtain the DS-2019 form. Your sponsor will require your documents to get started. The paperwork will likely vary depending on your sponsor, but it will look something like this:
- Reference letter/s (with English translation if in a different language)
- Diploma in higher hospitality education and translation
- Educational transcripts and translation
- Passport copy at least 2 years from the current date
Once you have sent these documents to us, we will start the process of applying through your assigned sponsor!
Step 2: The DS-2019 form and Training plan
Once you have gotten through the process of applying through your visa sponsor, you will be assigned a DS-2019 form and a training plan. Your training plan will be created by Placement International in collaboration with your host company and visa sponsor. The purpose is to ensure that you begin your placement with accurate expectations. Once the training plan is created and approved by the sponsor, it will be sent to you and your host company for signatures. This will act as your “contract” throughout your stay in the USA, so make sure you read it thoroughly!
Once your training plan is signed by all parties, you will be issued a DS-2019 by your sponsor. This is essentially the form that will be your “entry ticket” at the US border upon approval in your embassy interview. If you would like to learn more about it, we wrote another article about it here! Between Placement International, your sponsor, and you, we will arrange the delivery of your DS2019 directly to your home via courier.
Step 3: Fees & embassy appointment
Before you are able to have your DS- 2019 delivered, you must pay the SEVIS fee. SEVIS stands for Students and Exchange Visitors Information System. It is the main database that the US government uses to monitor and regulate J1 visitors. You will need to pay this fee in order to get your DS2019 form. In the case of some sponsors, this fee will be paid for you by Placement International and/or the sponsor. However, you will still need to receive the paid fee in order to proceed (this will be sent to you with your DS form).
In addition to the SEVIS fee, you will also need to pay a fee directly to the embassy, the DS160 fee. As the name suggests, this fee is $160 and can be paid directly to the US embassy. During the process, our team will direct you with filling in the form and paying the fee in your local currency via the embassy website. You can also find more information on our previous article here.
Now that you have paid the fee, we will direct you through the process of booking an appointment. To avoid a costly reprint, we will ensure your appointment is booked early enough so you have time to travel before the start date. The waiting time for the embassy varies from country to country, but not to worry! We will make sure to check your local embassy’s waiting time.
Step 4: The appointment
This is arguably the most daunting stage of the process. Majority of candidates tend to succeed in providing their documents, so don’t worry too much about it!
Speaking of documents, you need to make sure to be prepared:
- Two (2) passport photos – check the U.S. Embassy website for dimensions
- Your DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status: obtained from the program sponsor in the United States, and your DS-7002 Form or Training Plan
- Your printed SEVIS fee receipt, which is generated when you pay for your SEVIS fee
- Evidence of financial resources
Don’t worry if you don’t have all of them now. A number of documents you will only be able to get from your sponsor. The rest we will make sure is in top condition before going in.
While most of those who apply to the J1 with the correct documents do pass, it is not a guaranteed success. There will be a short character interview in which the officer will ask you various questions. The questions will tend to vary depending on the officer and embassy, but in general, they are trying to figure out the answer to the following questions:
- Will you return home after your training program finishes?
- Are you going to the USA for the correct reasons? (As mandated by the J1 visa)
These are generally the two main things that officers are looking for. They will ask you various questions to determine whether or not you understand the purpose of the visa.
- Whether you have a professional interest to train in the USA
- You have the financial means to sustain yourself and return to your home country
Does this sound daunting yet? Don’t worry! Our visa team will schedule a coaching call to make sure you fully understand everything. You can also find more here.
Step 5: Departure
Congratulations, you did it!! We are so happy for you! Now that you have the visa, it is time to prepare for your departure. You should inform our team as soon as your visa is approved! That way we can congratulate you and inform your host company.
Once you have informed us of your success we will also book a call with you. The aim is to inform you on what to do upon arrival. You will need to activate your SEVIS status, that way you can start your program without any issue. Certain hotels will arrange airport pick up, otherwise, we will point you in the right direction to make the transition as smooth as possible.
The process of getting a traineeship in the USA can be daunting, time-consuming, and confusing, which is why we are here to help you through! Not just helping you secure a job, but also the visa process! If you would like to find out how we can help you too, then just submit your CV here and we will assist you!