Exchange Visitor Visa

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FAQ

Overview

The United States welcomes foreign citizens who come to the United States to participate in exchange programs. Before applying for a visa, all exchange visitor applicants are required to be accepted and approved by an authorized program sponsor. When accepted, the applicant will receive from the educational institution or program sponsors the necessary approval documentation to be submitted when applying for a visa.

The exchange visitor program's J visa is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences. Participants include students at all academic levels; trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies; teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools; professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning; research scholars; professional trainees in the medical and allied fields; and international visitors coming for the purpose of travel, observation, consultation, research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs.

Dependents

Spouses or unmarried children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder of a J-1 visa to the United States for the duration of his or her stay must have J-2 visas. Spouses or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but who will visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas.

The spouse and/or child of an exchange visitor in the United States may not work while holding a J-2 visa unless they have filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must have reviewed the Form I-765 and given permission to the J-2 holder to work. The USCIS website has a PDF document titled "Employment Authorization" that has more information.

Application Items

To apply for a J visa, you must submit the following:

  • An Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160). Visit the DS-160 web page for more information about the DS-160.
  • A passport 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 (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • Unless your J program is sponsored by the United States Government (with a program code beginning with a "G"), you must present a receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This web page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State's website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
  • An approved DS-2019 from your U.S. program.
  • Unless your J program is sponsored by the United States Government (with a program code beginning with a "G"), you must pay your Form I-901 SEVIS fee. The SEVIS website has more information.

In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

How to Apply

Step 1

Determine your visa type by reading Common Nonimmigrant Visas. Each visa type explains the qualifications and application items. Choose the visa type that applies to your situation.

Be sure to also review the Visa Waiver Program. If your country participates in the Visa Waiver Program, you do not need to apply for a visa if you are traveling for business or pleasure and will only be staying in the Unites States for 90 days or less.

Step 2

The next step is to complete the DS-160 Form. Be sure to read the Guidelines for Completing the DS-160 Form carefully. All information must be correct and accurate. Once the form is submitted, you cannot make any changes. If you need assistance, please consult an immigration lawyer or translator. The call center cannot help you complete your DS-160. You will need your DS-160 number in step 5 to book your appointment.

Step 3

Visit www.ustraveldocs.com/do to create a profile with your biographical data and information relevant to the visa class for which you are applying. As you go through the process you will be able to select your visa type, enter personal data, add dependents, and select your document delivery location. After completing your profile, you will be directed a confirmation page that lists the visa fee amount due. If you are applying with family members, you will be able to group your profiles and see the total amount due for the family. Please print this page and take it to Banco Popular in order to pay the application fee.

Step 4

Now that you have completed the DS-160 and your online profile, you must pay the application fee. The visa fee page lists the visa types and correlating fee in U.S. dollars and local currency, Payments can only be made in local currency (Dominican pesos) at the current rate of exchange. You can pay the fee at any Banco Popular Dominicano location. More information about payment options is here. To find a Banco Popular Dominicano branch, click here.

Step 5

After paying the application fee at the bank, return to www.ustraveldocs.com/do and sign in to your profile. Navigate to Schedule Appointment and answer the questions regarding your previous visa, if any. It is important to answer the questions carefully and truthfully; these questions will determine whether you need appointments at both the Embassy and Visa Application Center (VAC), an appointment at the VAC only, or if you qualify for mail-in service in lieu of an appointment.

The majority of applicants must program two appointments: one at the Visa Application Center (VAC) and another at the Embassy.

  • First, schedule your appointment at the Embassy.
  • Second, schedule your appointment at the Visa Application Center to take your photograph and fingerprints. This appointment should be completed at least one day before your interview at the Embassy, although same-day appointments may be available for applicants from remote areas.

Once you are in the system, you will see your dashboard.

Click on Schedule Appointment on the left-hand side menu.

This will start the process for scheduling your appointment. You will need three items to schedule your appointment:

  1. Your passport number.
  2. The receipt number from your Visa Fee receipt. Click here if you need help finding this number.
  3. The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page.
Step 6

On the date of your appointment at the Visa Application Center (VAC) you will need:

  • A passport with validity at least six months beyond the time you will stay in United States (unless other agreements establish exceptions to this policy). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person who needs a visa must submit an application.
  • Confirmation sheet from the DS-160.
  • If the applicant is younger than 8 years and is not attending the interview, a photograph meeting the Department of State´s requirements must also be submitted. See Photographs and Digital Fingerprints for more information.
Step 7

After your appointment at the VAC to take your fingerprints and photograph, you will need to attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy. Visit the U.S. Embassy on the date and time of your visa interview, arriving no more than 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time. You should bring:

  • Confirmation sheet for the appointment
  • Confirmation sheet for the DS-160
  • Your current passport with a barcode added at the VAC and previous passports
  • Any documents that support you application, depending on the type of visa solicited

The U.S. Embassy will not receive incomplete applications.

ATTENTION! Applicants ages 8 and younger do not need to attend the VAC and Embassy appointments. Only the parents or legal guardians of these applicants are required to be present for the VAC and Embassy appointments.

If your visa is approved, your visa will be ready for pick-up at the Mail Boxes Etc. (MBE) location you selected.

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the U.S. Embassy in a sealed envelope. Applicants should unseal the envelope at the interview window and hand the document to the consular officer. The U.S. Embassy will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.

You should bring the following documents to your interview:

  • Documents demonstrating strong financial, social, and family ties to your home country that will compel you to return to your country after your program of study in the United States ends.
  • Financial and any other documents you believe will support your application and which give credible evidence that you have enough readily-available funds to meet all expenses for the first year of study and that you have access to funds sufficient to cover all expenses while you remain in the United States.
  • Photocopies of bank statements will not be accepted unless you can also show original copies of bank statements or original bank books.
  • If you are financially sponsored by another person, bring proof of your relationship to the sponsor (such as your birth certificate), the sponsor's most recent original tax forms and the sponsor's bankbooks and/or fixed deposit certificates.
  • Academic documents that show scholastic preparation. Useful documents include school transcripts (original copies are preferred) with grades, public examination certificates (A-levels, etc.), standardized test scores (SAT, TOEFL, etc.), and diplomas.

Supporting Documents for Dependents

If you have dependents, you must also provide:

  • Proof of your relationship to your spouse and/or child (e.g., marriage and birth certificates).
  • Each spouse or child must have their own Form DS-2019. This form is used to obtain the visa required for the spouse/child to enter the United States with you as the principal holder of an exchange visitor visa, or to join you in the United States at a later date.

More Information

For more information about visas for exchange visitors, visit the Department of State's website.