PI Advice

PI Advice


Successful US Embassy interview for the Visa J1

It is important that you watch the two videos below:


Please click HERE to locate the USA Embassy closest to you.

If you need a full overview of the US Embassy Appointment procedure have a look here.

U.S. Embassy interview/appointment.

Minimum Required Documents

  • Your passport
  • Two (2) passport photos – check 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

Recommended Supplemental Documents

Evidence of Financial Resources

All J-1 visa applicants must demonstrate that they have financial resources sufficient for their expenses in the United States or are earning a wage from the program that will cover their expenses. This evidence may include:

  • Exchange Program Stipends: Evidence from the program sponsor that they will pay you a stipend sufficient to cover your expenses in the United States.
  • Personal savings: Bank books or monthly statements showing your current assets and recent transactions.
  • Sponsorship: Sponsors should provide evidence of their assets and income, including current bank statements, and documents showing possession of real property. A detailed written description of the objectives and content of the exchange program.

Foreign Residency Requirement

J-1 visa participants must return to their country of nationality or country of last residence after completing their program in the United States and reside there physically for 2 years before they may become eligible to apply for a new J-1 visa. The officer at the US embassy will want to confirm that you understand this so please make sure you explain to him that you're planning to come back to your home country after you finish your program in the US.

Advice for participants before they apply for a J­-1 visa

1. Being Prepared

The applicant should be prepared for the first interview. It is much more difficult to obtain a visa if you have been denied once before. How the applicant is dressed is important. They should consider the interview a formal event. Business attire is appropriate. It is a good practice to make a positive first impression, since there will be little time to speak with the officer. Visa Officers are rushed. They often have only a few moments for the interview and will make their decisions quickly. The applicant should be prepared to give their information quickly and completely. Speaking advanced English is a requirement for a J­-1 career internship and training visa. The visa officer would like to know what the specific objective is for training in the USA. Visa Officers react poorly to applicants who give vague answers, memorize a speech, or make overly solicitous comments about how great and wonderful the United States is. Visa Officers like to hear honest, specific responses to questions.

During your interview, be careful with the vocabulary you use to describe your training. You cannot use: “work”, “job”, “employment” or any other wording that implies you are going to the US for work­ purposes.

If you are asked what type of “work” you will be doing or what your “job” will be, this may be a trick question. Explain that you will be “training” and then go ahead and explain what you will be doing.

Also remember that you are also not going to be receiving a “salary,” but instead you will be receiving a “stipend” for your assistance.

2. Immigrant Intent (Section 214B):

What is it and how can the applicant prove that he or she will return to their country?

  • US government regulations specify that the Visa Officer is required to assume that the applicant plans to stay permanently in the United States (“immigrant intent”). According to US regulations, the applicant must prove that they do not have immigrant intent. Failure to prove to the satisfaction of the Visa Officer that the applicant will return to their country is the most common reason for having a visa denied.
  • The applicant should collect documents to help prove that they will return. You can ask the applicant to think about their main reasons for returning after they have completed their Career Training program and how they might document those reasons. In addition to the passport and DS­2019, the applicant should consider submitting some of these documents:
    · Contracts that prove that the applicant or the applicant’s immediate family are engaged in a known business or own a home 
    · Diplomas
    · Letters of reference (from a teacher or someone in a position of responsibility in the government, university, or in business)
    · Deeds to show land ownership
    · Photos of immediate family currently residing at home
    · Photos of a property or business the applicant’s family owns. If the family owns a business, documents from a bank can help prove this ownership

If family living in the home country will pay for the applicant’s Career Training program in the US, the documents mentioned above should help show that the applicant has financial and familial ties to the home country. If a brother or sister or other close relative participated in a Career Training program in the US and returned home, the applicant should bring a copy of the program certificate. If the brother or sister is now employed in the home country, a statement from their employer stating that they returned and are employed can be helpful to show familial ties to the home country. The applicant can also bring the sibling’s passport to demonstrate that they have returned to the home country.

If appropriate, the applicant may wish to obtain a letter from their university in the home country stating that they will be starting school again when they return. A letter from a university professor supporting the student’s Training program can be helpful. If the Visa Officer does not believe the applicant has a plan for his continuing studies or has a promising future in the home country, he may find it difficult to believe the applicant will return to the home country. If the applicant is currently employed in a part­ time job while at university, a letter from the employer stating that the specific Training program in the US will be useful in their future employment with the company will be beneficial. Applicants should not quit a job immediately before applying for the visa. If the applicant does resign from employment shortly before applying for a visa, the Visa Officer may consider this an indication that the applicant is an “intending immigrant” and therefore, deny the visa application.

If immediate family members have important positions in the government, in education, or with private corporations, the applicant can mention them, and, if possible, bring a document that shows what the position is. This information should be offered as an indication that the applicant’s family enjoys a good life and therefore the applicant has good prospects for the future and good reasons to return to the home country. If the applicant has traveled to the US or other countries on an old, expired passport, it is a good idea to bring the expired passport to the interview to prove that there is a history of travel and return to the home country.

3. Have a specific objective

  • The applicant should have a specific academic, cultural or professional objective. They should be prepared to explain why they want to participate in the Training program. The applicant should be ready to say exactly where they will train and what kind of future this experience will prepare them for in their home country.
  • Young people around the world are often unsure of their plans. However, in the visa interview it is best to give definite answers. If the applicant seems to be unsure about what he is and will be doing, the visa Officer may be less likely to believe that the candidate is really going to the US to do the Training program. The applicant should have some information about the employer, where they plan to work, where they plan to be housed, and the location of the employer.
  • Remember, it is not enough to just say, "It is better to have a training experience in the US." While we may consider the reasons for wanting to participate on a Training program obvious, the applicant should be able to state specific reasons for choosing this program. Perhaps the applicant needs to work on his or her English, or they want to learn about working with Americans if they hope to have a career working with an American multi­national firm or in international business.
  • Grades do make a difference. Although visa issuance guidelines say that Visa Officers should not act as guidance counselors, some Visa Officers make judgments based on grades in the home country. If grades are below average, the applicant needs to be ready to explain how they are going to succeed in the US on a Training program, if they haven’t shown motivation in his/her studies. A letter from a school director or teacher in the applicant’s country or from the admitting school in the US stating that the proposed program of Training in the US makes sense can be helpful. If there were special circumstances (e.g., death or illness in the immediate family) that contributed to the bad grades, have the school explain those special circumstances.

4. Financial Support

  • Applicants must have adequate, demonstrable financial support to live, work and travel in the US.
  • Visa applications are generally stronger if financial support comes from family or employers located in the home country.
  • If parents will provide the financial support, the applicant should be ready to document how the family gets its income and how much that income is. A letter from the parent’s employer with information about salary and employment history can be helpful. When Visa Officers see what they believe does not make sense, they reject visas. If the family can only show enough income to support the student in the US, the Visa Officer will wonder how the family will survive at home.
  • Large sums of money in bank accounts may not be sufficient proof of financial support. When providing information about bank accounts, the applicant should obtain a let er from their bank that states how long the account has existed, and what the average balance in the account has been.

* If the student has family members residing in the US, it is especially important to prove that there are good reasons for the applicant to return to the home country. Applicants should be cautioned not to lie about having family members in the US. The Embassy is now required to check every applicant in a comprehensive multi ­agency database. If the applicant is caught in a lie, the Officer will deny the visa application, and it will be difficult or impossible to successfully appeal the decision.

5. Other Suggestions

  • It is more important than ever for the applicant to apply for the visa well in advance of the date they will begin their Training program listed on the DS­2019 form. Applicants should try to apply at least two to three months before they plan to travel. This will give the applicant extra time if there are delays at the Embassy, or if they wish to appeal a decision in the event of a denial. There are times of the year when the Embassy is particularly busy and there are delays in processing all visa applications. The Embassy closes for all US Federal holidays as well as many of the holidays in the country where they are located. After the events of September 11th, 2001, and with the implementation of the new Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), visa processing time takes much longer. All names have to be submitted for a security clearance. Citizens of some countries have to undergo additional screening that takes several additional weeks of processing.
  • The applicant should read and sign the form DS­2019.
  • Applications for visas should be made at the US Embassy or Consulate in the home country if at al possible. If the application is filed in a US Embassy in a third country the Embassy may refuse to process the application, and at the very least there will be additional delays.
  • Stress to the applicant that each case is different. They should not assume that the visa application experience of others will be the same as theirs.

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