A Sponsor, or Visa Sponsor, is an organization designated by the US Department of State to issue DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility forms. This is the form that you will need to apply for the actual visa. It is important to understand that despite the name, Visa Sponsors do NOT actually provide visas. Visas are provided by US Embassies and consulates.
Do I need a Visa Sponsor?
Only an official Sponsor can issue DS-2019 forms. So if you want to apply for a J-1 visa, the answer is “yes”.
How Do I Know if I Have One?
Some companies claim that they are a “registered partner”, have a “visa office” or in some other way imply that they can issue you a DS-2019 form. These claims are misleading, and typically only a ploy to get you to pay high prices for their services. While it is common to partner with a Visa Sponsor and to provide additional services, the partner company must make their services clear. If you want to apply directly to a Sponsor, but are not sure if the company you are looking at is a Sponsor or not there is an easy way to check.
The Department of State has an online list of sponsors for each J-1 Visa category.
- Follow this link to the search by program page.
- Use the drop down menu to select the type of J-1 you will apply for (such as Trainee or Intern).
- You can sort by name or state, or also download a .csv list of the sponsor information.
- Look for the name of the company you are thinking of working with. If their name appears on the list, they can issue DS-2019 forms in that category. If their name is not on that list, they are not able to issue DS-2019 forms in that category.
The term “Sponsor” should also not be confused with the company where you are doing your Internship or Training program. It is much less common that the organization you are going to in the US also issued you your DS-2019 form, . Again, if you think your host organization is your sponsor, use the steps above to look them up online.