How to get a J-1 Visa

Don’t let companies fool you into buying their expensive visa assistant services by claiming that getting a J-1 visa is too hard for the average person.

With a little bit of information and effort on your part, you can save yourself hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

1. Accept an Internship (or Trainee) offer

  • If you haven’t accepted an offer yet, most sponsor companies (step 2), won’t start an application with you. You can still start on your research for who you want to work with, but focus on securing that offer first.
  • There is a J-1 program under the Internship category called the Irish Work and Travel program (also known as the ‘Graduate’ program), where you do not need to have an offer secured, and can skip to the next step.

2. Finding a Sponsor

  • Before you can apply for a Visa, you need to find an US Department of State Designated Sponsor. There is an official list of these companies so you know if you are working with a real Sponsor or not. You have to look them up by visa category, so it is possible you will find a company only on the Intern list, but not the Trainee list.
  • The application process for each sponsor will be slightly different, but you can expect something like the following:
    1. Submit your application
    2. Pay your program fee(s)
    3. Respond to any additional document requests, English verification tests or other questions your sponsor has.
    4. If approved, you should receive a DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility Form.

3. Apply for the J-1 Visa

  • Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need to apply for a visa at an embassy or consulate unless otherwise instructed to do so.
  • Pay your I-901 SEVIS Fee and complete your DS-160 application.
  • Decide where you are going to apply for your visa. If you’re not sure where to go, read up on our suggestions on our page about “Where to Apply for your Visa“.
  • See how long it will take to get an appointment using this site and typing in the name of the city where you plan to apply.
  • If you have all of your documents ready, apply for your appointment!