J-1 Visa – All You Need to Know

J-1 Visa Overview

The J-1 visa is one of the most popular non-immigrant visas. The J-1 visa is overseen by the U.S. State Department. The Exchange Visitor (J) visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work and study based exchange visitor programs. J-1 programs promote cultural exchange, especially to obtain business and science/engineering training. All J-1 visa applicants, or “participants”, must meet the eligibility criteria.


Requirements For The J-1

To obtain the J-1 visa, there should be a Host Employer who is willing to petition for the J-1.

The Host Employer should be aware that the placement will not be considered if a participant cannot meet the following two U.S. Department of State prerequisites: previous experience in the related field, and financial requirements.

The first stage in the process is to decide what type of participant you would like to hire by discussing the participant’s employment and education history with the Attorney. The procedure starts with identifying the employment field and job position the foreign professional will fill based on the education and employment background. An individual can qualify for the J-1 visa if he/she will be trained in an occupation in various permitted fields including, but not limited to: engineering/information technology, business administration/management, medicine, as well as other related fields. Eligibility for every prospective J-1 placement has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The second stage is obtaining Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status (Form DS-2019) from a Designated Sponsor for the chosen program. Once the DS-2019 is issued, the visa applicant may schedule his/her visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in their home county. The Designated Sponsors (authorized by the U.S. Department of State) are the organizations that administer the exchange program. Designated Sponsors screen prospective exchange visitors based on the Department of State criteria. The Law Firm will help you find the right Designated Sponsor and guide you during the process to ensure speedy visa issuance. The Law Offices of Jacob Sapochnick processes a high volume of J-1 applications every year and we have a long standing relationship with many Designated Sponsorship Organizations across the U.S. We will walk you through each step in the procedure to facilitate quick visa issuance. Once the Law Firm receives all required Initial Documentation (see checklist below), it takes approximately 6-8 weeks for the visa to be issued. This is our time estimate only as some Designated Sponsor or U.S. Embassy delays may occur that are outside our control.

Designated Sponsor’s Initial Documentation Checklist:

  • Host company information form (intake provided by the Law Firm)
  • Visa applicant processing questionnaire (intake provided by the Law Firm)
  • Applicant information sheet (intake provided by the Law Firm)
  • Host Company Business License (please check your expiration date)
  • Host Company’s active workers compensation policy (please check your expiration date)
  • Visa applicant’s passport (bio page that displays his/her picture, birth date, etc.)
  • Visa applicant’s bachelor’s or master’s degree diploma and school transcripts (please attach English translation, if applicable)
  • Visa applicant’s Financial Proof (e.g. foreign bank statement) to prove he/she has additional funds to assist upon their arrival and throughout your program. Please attach an English translation, if applicable. Around $2,000 to $2,500 USD bank balance is above the minim requirement.
  • Visa applicant’s previous U.S. visa(s), if applicable
  • Visa applicant’s signed motivational letter (sample letter provided by the Law Firm)

The Designated Sponsor may require additional documentation, if needed. The entire J-1 process usually takes 6-8 weeks. Below is an itemized list explaining each step in detail.


The J-1 Process Occurs In 7 Steps

Step 1 Initial Documentation:

Gathering and submission of all Initial Documentation from Participant and Host Company. Please see Initial Documentation Checklist above. The Designated Sponsor will review the documentation received and will let the Participant and Host Company know if additional documents are required.

Step 2 J-1 Training Plan Creation/ Skype Interview

Training Plan Creation:

The Law Firm will work closely with the Host Company and Designated Sponsor representative to create at Training Plan (Form DS-7002) that will fit the Employer’s needs and comply with U.S. State Department criteria. The Designated Sponsor will choose a J-1 program start date. The Participant and Host Company must BOTH agree on the J-1 program start date prior signing Form DS-7002.

Skype Interview:

Once the Training Plan has been created, the Designated Sponsor officer with schedule a video Skype interview with the Participant. The Participant will be required to demonstrate proficiency in English. The Attorney will provide the Participant guidance prior to the Skype interview. We encourage the Participant to study Training Plan (DS-7002) to prepare for the Skype interview. *Designated Sponsor may request to conduct a phone interview with the Host Company supervisor/contact but this requirement is not common. Each case is at the officer’s discretion.

Step 3 Sponsorship Decision

After the interview process is complete and all required documentation is finalized and signed by the Host Company contact and Designated Sponsor, a Sponsorship decision will be made. You will be notified via email immediately.

Step 4 DS-2019 Issuance / U.S. Embassy online interview scheduling

Once a decision is made, the Designated Sponsor will issue the DS-2019 “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor J-1 Status” and this document will be shipped abroad to the visa applicant’s home address. The Participant must schedule his/her visa interview online as soon as the DS-2019 Certificate is received because depending on the time of year, U.S. Embassy visa interview availability varies. The Participant must submit their DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application online before scheduling their visa interview. The Law Firm will assist the Participant with DS-160 Application preparation, if needed. Participant must schedule his/her visa interview approximately 10-15 days prior to the J-1 program start date found on the DS-2019 Certificate.

Step 5 U.S. Embassy visa interview preparation

The Participant will schedule one last phone meeting with the Law Firm to prepare for the interview. The Law Firm will inform the Participant of the documentation required at the visa interview. It is best that the Participant brings substantial proof of his/her ties to her home country. Proof of ties home include, but are not limited to: evidence of property ownership, ties to family (such as a spouse and children), and evidence of employment in his/her home country.

Step 6 U.S. Embassy visa interview

The Participant must have his/her original DS-2019 Certificate and Training Plan (DS-7002) at the U.S. Embassy interview as well as other required documentation. It is recommended that the Participant asks the U.S. Embassy interview officer for the current estimated wait time for visa issuance.

Step 7 Visa Issuance

The Participant must arrive in the U.S. to begin the J-1 training program by the start date indicated on the DS-2019. The Designated Sponsor will request a copy of the Participant’s flight ticket to confirm timely arrival in the United States.

 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING THE VISA APPLICANT’S TRAVEL PLANS:

*Please do not make any travel plans till the Participant has received the ORIGINAL DS-2019 certificate in the mail and after the visa is issued by the U.S. Embassy.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick will guide the Participant and Host Company through each step during the process. If the company has a need for a foreign worker to fill a particular position, our attorneys will work with you through each step and will help your company to comply with the applicable J-1 regulations.

For further information, feel free to call our office for a free consultation with an attorney or J-1 expert.  We have many years of experience and will ease you through this process.


Checklist to Become a J-1 Program Sponsor

  • Resume of the proposed Responsible Officer (usually the CEO of the company)
  • Evidence showing at least one year of experience in international exchange: detailed information on experience in the selection screening, orientation, placement, and oversight of foreign nationals in exchange activities.  Also specify the different types of visas used to carry out the international exchange.
  • Current audit with audit notes prepared by an independent Certified Public Accounting firm.

Newly formed organizations (less than one year) must present a compilation (i.e., balance sheet, statement of cash flows, and all disclosures, revenues, expenditures, and notes to financial statements prepared by an independent Certified Public Accounting Firm demonstrating that the organization has been capitalized with sufficient funds to cover general operating expenses as well as sufficient funds to cover the costs associated with an exchange program.

  • A copy of the medical insurance policy being offered to program participants.
  • An organizational chart and a list of the staff to be assigned to administer the exchange program, giving the full name, title, and function of each.
  • Sample copies of all pre-arrival and arrival orientation information to be distributed to program participants.
  • A copy of the application to be completed by a participant.
  • Copies of all agreements or contracts to be signed by program participants or third-party organizations.
  • In addition, as applicable:
  1. Articles of Incorporation (True Copy)
  2. By-Laws (True Copy)
  3. State Charter (True Copy)
  4. Current Certificate of Good Standing or Certificate of Existence
  5. Copies of appropriate licenses required by Federal and State Government
  6. Evidence of tax-exempt status (Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code)
  7. Evidence of Accreditation, if a post-secondary educational institution
  • Supporting documentation regarding the method of selection and arrangements for financial support while in the United States. The following information should be included, if applicable:
  1. Selection of Exchange Visitors—describe the screening process for each category requested
  2. Program Costs/Fees and Deposits/Refunds—provide all costs/fees charged to the participants
  3. Program Funding/Financial Support
  4. Orientation
  5. Consortium Information
  • Credit Card Authorization Form filled.

 

J-1 Questionnaire for Employer

EMPLOYER INFORMATION

1. Company Name:

2. Company Address:

3. Number of Employees:

4. Number of Years in Business:

5. Dunn and Bradstreet Number:

6. Employer ID Number (EIN):

7. Workman’s Compensation Insurance Policy Number:

8. Have you supervised international trainees/interns before?

9. Do you currently have other trainees/interns?                If so, how many?

10. Have you employed international work/travel students in the past?

11. Are you open for business 12 months of the year?

12. Gross revenue of business:  □ Less than $3 million      □ Greater than $3 million

13. Nature of Company’s Activity (services, products, etc.):

14. Type of Training (management, marketing, accounting, etc.)

15. Do you have multiple locations where the trainee/intern might be sent?  If so, how many and where?

16. Is there anything else about your company that you would specifically like a candidate to be aware of?

17. Supervisor’s Name; Supervisor’s Title; Phone; Fax; E-mail; Website.

18. Stipend amount: