Exchange Visitor Visa


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View the video below for Application Process_F/M/J.


How to Apply for a Student Visa (F/M/J) by Mail



Important notice for Japanese citizens applying for student visas (F/ M), and academic J visas

Effective immediately until December 31, 2023, citizens of Japan applying for F, M, or academic J visas, may apply for a visa by mail without an in-person interview.  First-time and returning applicants are eligible if they meet the requirements listed below.

  • You are a Japanese citizen and are currently in Japan
  • You are applying for an F, M, or academic J visa (includes secondary and university students,  professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, and specialists).
  • You have not been arrested in Japan, the United States, or any other country.
  • At least one of the following is true:
    • You have previously traveled to the United States on the Visa Waiver Program using ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) and have never had an application for ESTA denied, OR
    • You have previously been issued a U.S. visa of any type, and it was issued after your 14th birthday.
For instructions on how to apply by mail, please visit

The United States welcomes foreign citizens who come to the U.S. 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. Applicants will  receive the approval documentation that they need in order to apply for a J-1 visa from their host educational institution or program sponsor.

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.

If you are a former exchange visitor and one or more of the following conditions apply to you, you may not be issued an immigrant, fiancé(e), temporary worker or intracompany transferee visa until you have resided and been physically present in your country of nationality or last residence for at least two years following the completion of your exchange visitor program:

  • The program was financed by the United States government or the government of your country of nationality or last residence.
  • You are a national or resident of a country which the Secretary of State has designated as clearly requiring the services of people in the field of specialized knowledge or skills in which you were engaged during the exchange visitor program (no skills are listed as being required for Japan). For details about the skills list, please click here.
  • You are a physician who entered the United States to receive medical education or training (except for programs  exclusively limited to teaching, research, or consultation).

Training Program

While the J-1 training program may contain a small portion of productive work normally performed by a regular employee, the primary focus of the program must be training and skill development. The trainee may not replace or augment the regular staff by filling a position that would otherwise be held by a regular employee. Providing a detailed training plan is helpful to determine eligibility.


If you wish to pursue practical training through an internship with a U.S. based employer you will require either an exchange visitor (J-1) or trainee (H-3) visa. Such activities cannot be conducted on a B-2 visa or visa free under the Waiver Program, even if you will receive no payment from a U.S. source.

Entry and Length of Stay

The holder of an exchange visitor J-1 visa may enter the United States up to 30 days before the designated start date on the DS-2019 and remain for up to 30 days after the completion date on the DS-2019. The 30 day entrance limitation does not apply to those returning to continue with their program.


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/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 U.S. 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. Please check "Employment Authorization" on the USCIS website for more information.

Application Items (required)

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

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. 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).
  • Your expired passports issued within the past 10 years
  • One color photograph 2"x2" (5cmx5cm) taken within the past 6 months against a white background (Please attach your photo to the upper left corner of the DS-160 confirmation page).  Click here for more information about photos. Please note applicants are not permitted to wear eyeglasses in photos.
  • An interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service.
  • An approved DS-2019 (ORIGINAL) from your U.S. program. Applicants must sign and date the form.
  • A DS-7002(Trainee/Intern only): J1 applicants under "trainee" or "intern" categories will be required to submit a fully completed and signed Form DS-7002 from the program sponsor if Form DS-2019 was issued after July 19, 2007.
  • Unless your J program is sponsored by the United States Government (with a program code beginning with a "G"), you must present your Form I-901 SEVIS fee receipt indicating you paid the SEVIS fee. The SEVIS website has more information. For quick reference, click here (PDF)!

Non-Japanese applicants must also include:

  •  Photocopy (both sides) of the Japanese Alien Registration Card or “Zairyu” card

NOTE: You should have your ORIGINAL DS-2019 with you at your appointment. It is important that you schedule your appointment well in advance. Please select a date on which you expect to have your DS-2019. If your program start date is a month or less away, you may come to your appointment without your DS-2019 and mail the ORIGINAL DS-2019 directly to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate as soon as  you receive it.

In addition to these items, please also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer. If your 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

How to Apply

  • Application procedures vary between consular posts. Click here for complete details.
  • J program sponsored by the U.S. Government has a program code beginning with a G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-7 printed on the Form DS-2019: Those applicants are not required to pay the visa application fees and SEVIS fee (Fulbright scholars, for example).  For details, please see Diplomats and Other Government Officials.

Supporting Documents (optional)

Supporting documents are just 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  accorded every consideration under the law.

You are encouraged to bring the following documents to your interview. English translations must be attached to all documents:

  • 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 U.S. ends.
  • Evidence of enough readily-available funds to meet all expenses for your first year of study, and proof of access to sufficient  funds  to cover all  of your expenses for the duration of your time 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 book.
  • If you have a financial sponsor, bring proof of your relationship to the sponsor (such as your birth certificate, if your sponsor is a family member),  as well as the sponsor's most recent original tax forms and the sponsor's bankbooks and/or fixed deposit certificates.

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility

Supporting Documents for Dependents

If you have dependents, you must  provide the following materials. English translations must be attached to all documents:

  • Each spouse or child must have their own form DS-2019
  • Proof of relationship to  the principal applicant (e.g. marriage/ birth certificate, family register).
  • A copy of the principal applicant's visa if dependents apply for their visas at a later date.

Supporting Documents for Applicants Seeking Visas Science and Technology Courses

Non-Japanese applicants going to the U.S. to follow a science or technology-related course of study must bring the following documentation in addition to the documents listed above:

  • Complete CV or resume
  • Complete list of publications (if applicable)
  • Letter of acceptance/invitation to the school or program

Supporting Documents for Physicians or Medical Graduates Seeking Visas as J-1 Research Scholars

If you are a physician or medical graduate pursuing a J-1 Research Scholar program in the United States, you must submit the following documentation appended to the Form DS-2019.

  • “Five-Point Letter” regarding patient contact - Please see “9 FAM 402.5-6(E)(1) Noncitizen Physician” for the specific requirement.  The letter/statement must be signed by the dean of the accredited U.S. medical school (e.g., a U.S. university, academic medical center, school of public health, or other public health institution) or their designee.

More Information

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