Exchange Visitor Visa

OVERVIEW-ABOUT THE EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM
The Exchange Visitor Program promotes mutual understanding between the people of the United States (U.S.) and the people of other countries by educational and cultural exchanges, under the provisions of U.S. law. Exchange Programs provide an extremely valuable opportunity to experience the U.S. and our way of life, thereby developing lasting and meaningful relationships.The first step for a prospective nonimmigrant exchange visitor is to be accepted in an established exchange visitor program that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified.At the conclusion of their program, Exchange Visitor program participants are expected to return to their home countries to utilize the experience and skills they have acquired while in the U.S. Questions regarding an exchange program(s) should be directed to the program sponsor.
In carrying out the responsibilities of the Exchange Visitor Program, the Department of State (DOS) designates public and private entities to act as exchange sponsors. Designated sponsoring organizations facilitate the entry of foreign nationals into the U.S. as exchange visitors to complete objectives of one of the wide variety of exchange visitor program categories shown below. Select from the list below to learn about the program requirements
and regulations by category on the ECA Website:

Exchange Visitor Categories
Au pair and EduCare Short-term Scholar
Camp Counselor Specialist
Government Visitor Student, college/university
Intern Student, secondary
International Visitor (Dept. of State use) Summer Work Travel
Physician Teacher
Professor and Research Scholar Trainee

Exchange Visitor Pilot Programs

Summer work/travel: Australians
Summer work/travel: New Zealanders
Intern work/travel: Irish
Work/English Study/Travel: South Koreans
2011 Pilot Summer Work Travel Program for Belarus, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Russia and Ukraine


 
OVERVIEW- ABOUT THE EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA
The exchange visitor (J) nonimmigrant visa category is provided for persons who are approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in the U.S., under provisions of U.S. immigration law. This means that before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a J visa, you must first apply, meet the requirements, and be accepted for one of the Exchange Visitor Program categories through a designated sponsoring organization. If you are accepted as a participant in an exchange program, the sponsor will provide you with information and documents necessary to apply for the J visa to enter the U.S.

WHEN CAN A VISITOR VISA BE USED INSTEAD OF AN EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA?
In certain circumstances, some activities that are done on exchange visitor visas are also permitted on business (B-1) or tourist (B-2) visas. Short periods of study, or study which is recreational, and not vocational, and incidental to the trip, is permitted on a visitor visa.As an example, if you are taking a vacation to the U.S., and during this vacation you would like to take a two-day cooking class for your enjoyment, and there is no credit earned, then this would be permitted on a visitor visa. A consular officer will determine the visa category you will need based on the purpose of your travel, and your supporting documentation.

EXCHANGE VISITORS CANNOT TRAVEL ON THE VISA WAVIER PROGRAM
Citizens from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) who want to enter the U.S. temporarily as exchange visitors, must first obtain a an exchange visitor visa. Exchange visitor program participants cannot travel on the VWP, nor can they travel on a visitor (B) visa. Those travelers coming on the VWP to participate in an exchange program may be denied admission to the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. immigration inspector at the port of entry.

WHAT IS SEVIS AND SEVP?WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT IT?
The SEVP monitors school and exchange programs and F, M and J category visitors. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on nonimmigrant students (F and M visa), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2). SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit mandatory information and event notifications via the Internet, to the DHS and DOS throughout a student or exchange visitor’s stay in the U.S. All exchange visitor applicants must have a SEVIS generated DS-2019 issued by a DOS designated sponsor, which they submit when they are
applying for their exchange visitor visa. (2011 Pilot Summer Work Travel Program participants should review information below.)
The consular officer verifies the DS-2019 record electronically through the SEVIS system in order to process your exchange visitor visa application to conclusion. Unless otherwise exempt, exchange visitor applicants must pay a SEVIS I-901 Fee to DHS for each individual program.

QUALIFYING FOR AN EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA
Exchange visitor applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for an exchange visitor (J) visa under immigration law. The consular officerwill determine whether you qualify for the visa. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they properly meet requirements, including the following:
-That they plan to remain in the U.S. for a temporary, specific, limited period;
-Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the U.S.;
-Evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad; and other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.

APPLYING FOR AN EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA
As part of the visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79, with few exceptions. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by the embassy or consulate. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide is available on our website at Visa Wait Times, and on most embassy websites. If you are authorized by your sponsor to be accompanied by your spouse (husband or wife) and children, they will also be given a Form DS-2019 and they can apply at the same time.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION
-DS 2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. A SEVIS-generated Form, DS-2019, is provided to you by your program sponsor, after the sponsor enters your information in the SEVIS system. All exchange visitors, including their spouses and dependents must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). (2011 Pilot Summer Work Travel Program participants should review information below.)
-A Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002. All exchange visitor (J visa) trainee or intern visa applicants (based on Box 7 on form) must also present Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002 when applying for a visa. If your Form DS-2019 is issued prior to July 19, 2007 a Form DS-7002 is not required. For more information about the rules for trainee and intern programs, see the Exchange Visitor Program, Trainees on the ECA website.
-Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. Visit our DS-160 webpage to learn more about the DS-160 online process.
-A passport valid for travel to the U.S. and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must complete an application;
-One (1) 2x2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIRED VISA FEES?
-Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee - Each applicant for a visitor visa must pay a nonrefundable US $100 nonimmigrant visa application processing fee.
-Visa issuance fee – Additionally, if the visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables
to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and the fee amount. If there is a fee for issuance for the visa, it is equal as nearly as possible to the fee charged to
United States citizens by the applicant's country of nationality.

ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTATION
-Find out if there are any additional documentation items required by reviewing the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website.
-Applicants must demonstrate to the consular officer that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country which they have no intention of abandoning, and that
they are coming to the U.S. for a temporary period. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since applicants' circumstances vary greatly.

LEGAL RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS FOR EMPLOYMENT OR EDUCATION-BASED NONIMMIGRANTS
Recent changes to U.S. law relate to the legal rights of certain employment or education-based nonimmigrants under Federal immigration, labor, and employment laws, and
the information to be provided about protections and available resources. As a temporary visitor to the U.S., it is important that you are aware of your rights, as well as protections and resources available when you come to work or study here. Before your interview, review the Nonimmigrant Rights, Protections and Resources pamphlet and learn about additional information

MY VISA HAS BEEN ISSUED-WHEN CAN I TRAVEL TO THE U.S.?
-DHS regulation requires that all beginning (initial) J exchange visitors, and J-2 spouse and dependents enter the U.S. 30 days or less in advance of the applicant's program start date as shown on the Form DS-2019. The 30-day limitation does not apply to current exchange participants who are returning to continue with their exchange program.
-If you want an earlier entry in the U.S. (more than 30 days prior to the course start date), you must qualify for, and obtain a visitor visa, as explained below; however, this is strongly discouraged.

SPOUSES AND CHILDREN
Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal (or primary) exchange visitor (J) visa holder in the U.S. for the duration of his/her stay require exchange visitor visas. The application procedure is the same as that for a primary visa applicant. The sponsor must approve the accompaniment of the spouse and/or children and who will each be issued their own Form DS-2019. This form is used to obtain the required visa and the spouse and dependents can enter the U.S. at the same time as the principal exchange visitor or at a later date.

Work - The spouse and/or children of an exchange visitor in the U.S. may not work in J-2 status, unless they have filed Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved permission to work.

Study - The spouse and/or children of an exchange visitor visa holder who are in the U.S. on an exchange visitor visa may study in the U.S. without also being required to apply for a student (F-1) visa or change to F-1 status.

Spouses and/or children who do not intend to reside in the U.S. with the principal visa holder, but visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas, or if qualified, travel without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program.

FAMILY MEMBERS FOLLOWING TO JOIN THE EXCHANGE VISITOR
The spouse and children can also apply for visas after the principal applicant has already traveled. In general, they must present the following:
-Form DS 2019, SEVIS generated, and approved by the sponsor
-Proof that the principal applicant (the person who received the DS-2019 or IAP-66) is maintaining his/her J visa status
-Copy of the J-1's (principal applicant's) visa
-Proof of relationship to the principal applicant
-Proof of sufficient money to cover all expenses in the United States
Spouses and children of exchange visitors may not enter the United States before the principal visitor enters for the first time.

TWO-YEAR HOME-COUNTRY PHYSICAL PRESENCE (FOREIGN RESIDENCE) REQUIREMENT
An exchange visitor is subject to INA 212(e) requirement, if the following conditions exist:
-The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the United States government or the government of the exchange visitor's nationality or last residence;
-The exchange visitor is a national or resident of a country designated as requiring the services of persons engaged in the field of specialized knowledge or skills in which the exchange visitor was engaged for the duration of their program (Exchange Visitor Skills List 9 FAM 41.62, Exhibit II);
-The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training.

If the exchange visitor is subject to INA 212(e) requirement, he or she cannot change his or status to that of H, L, K, or immigrant lawful permanent resident (LPR) until he or she has returned to his/her home country for at least two-years or received a waiver of that requirement. Such waivers can be obtained under five separate bases: No Objection Statement, Exceptional Hardship or Persecution, Conrad Program, or Interested Government Agency.

CAN I ENTER ON A VISITOR VISA (B VISA) AND CHANGE STATUS TO AN EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM (J VISA)?
If you want an earlier entry in the U.S. (more than 30 days prior to the course start date), you must qualify for, and obtain a visitor visa; however, this is strongly discouraged. If you travel to the U.S. on a visitor visa, before beginning an exchange program, you must obtain a change of visa classification from the B status to that of J. You must file Form I-539, Application for Change of Nonimmigrant Status, with application fee, and also submit the required Form DS-2019 to the DHS office where the application is made. Please be aware that you cannot start your exchange visitor program until the change of status is approved, and therefore in view of the processing time to your change status in the U.S., you may be in danger of missing your entire exchange program waiting approval of change of status.

THE 2011 PILOT SUMMER WORK TRAVEL PROGRAM
There are several additional procedures and guidelines for participants of the 2011 Summer Work Travel Program from Belarus, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine, as well as participants applying for visas at U.S. embassies or consulates in these countries. Review the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) website for detailed information about the pilot program, including requirements for U.S. sponsors and participants. Your Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, will be sent by your U.S. program sponsor directly to the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will apply for your visa. Please also note that all pilot program participants will be placed in jobs in the United States by the designated U.S. sponsor before the DS-2019 is issued.

WHAT IS "Q"INTERNATIONAL CULTURAL EXCHANGE VISITOR?
There are two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons to participate in exchange visitor programs in the U.S. under immigration law. The "J" exchange visitor visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the DOS, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and is discussed here. The "Q-1" visa is for certain international cultural exchange programs designed to provide practical training and employment, and sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of participants home country in the U.S.. The training/employment must be approved in advance by USCIS on the basis of a petition, Form I-129, filed by the U.S. sponsor.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
-No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore final travel plans or the purchase of nonrefundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued.
-Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visitor visa in an expired passport, do not remove the visa page from the expired passport. You may use it along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

MISREPRESENTATION OF MATERIAL FACT,OR FRAUD
Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the U.S.

VISA INELIGIBILTY/ WAIVER
The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, lists classes of persons who are ineligible under U.S. law to receive visas. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable as a visitor, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved. Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas provides important information about ineligibilities, by reviewing sections of the law taken from the immigration and Nationality Act.

VISA DENIALS
 If the consular officer should find it necessary to deny the issuance of a visitor visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal.In the absence of new evidence, consular officers are not obliged to re-examine such cases.

ENTERING THE U.S.-PORT OF ENTRY
A visa allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad, to travel to the United States port-of entry and request permission to enter the U.S.  Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the U.S., the CBP official will determine the length of your visit on the Arrival-Departure Record  (Form I-94). Since Form I-94 documents your authorized stay in the U.S., it’s very important to keep in your passport.  Exchange visitors must have their Form DS-2019 in their possession each time they enter the United States.  Upon arrival (at an international airport, seaport or land border crossing), you will be enrolled in the US-VISIT entry-exit program. In addition, some travelers will also need to register their entry into and their departure from the U.S. with the Special Registration program. The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection internet site offers additional information on Admissions/Entry requirements.

STAYING BEYOND YOUR AUTHORIZED STAY IN THE U.S. AND BEING OUT OF STATUS
 - It is important that you depart the U.S. on or before the last day you are authorized to be in the U.S. on any given trip, based on the specified end date on your Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94. Failure to depart the U.S. will cause you to be out-of-status.

-beyond the period of time authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and being out-of-status in the United States is a violation of U.S. immigration laws, and may cause you to be ineligible for a visa in the future for return travels to the U.S.

- According to INA 222 (g) ,if you stay on your non-immigrant authorized stay in the U.S.,your visa will be automatically voided. In this situation, you are required to re-apply for a new non-immigrant visa, generally in your country of nationality.

HOW LONG AM I PERMITTED TO STAY IN THE U.S. AFTER MY PROGRAM HAS ENDED?
The initial admission of an exchange visitor, spouse and children may not exceed the period specified on Form DS-2019, plus a period of 30 days only for domestic travel and/or to prepare for and depart from the U.S.

HOW DO I EXTEND MY STAY?
Those exchange visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their DS-2019 should review the ECA information: Adjustments to the J-1 Status.
 
 FURTHER VISA INQUIRIES
-Questions on visa application procedures and visa ineligibilities should be made to the American consular office abroad by the applicant. Before submitting your inquiry,
we request that you carefully review this web site and also the Embassy Consular web site abroad. Very often you will find the information you need.
-If your inquiry concerns a visa case in progress overseas, you should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case for status information. Select U.S.
Embassy or Consulate
and you can choose the Embassy or Consulate Internet site you need to contact.
-If you have additional inquiries about F or M student visas/J-1 exchange visitor visas, please email our Student/Exchange Visitor Visa Center at: fmjvisas@state.gov.