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To enter the United States from a foreign country and remain here for any extended period of time, you will need to obtain an appropriate visa signifying the duration of your visit and your reason for coming. If your intention is to participate in a visitor exchange program, you will almost certainly need to apply for and receive a J-1 nonimmigrant visa before your arrival.

There are many requirements that prospective J-1 visitors must meet well in advance of their intended arrival date, some of which can be difficult to manage without help from an experienced visa attorney. A Naperville J-1 visa lawyer could help both foreign nationals seeking this type of visa and their U.S.-based sponsors understand their obligations under federal immigration law.

Qualifying Programs and Visitor Categories

To be eligible for a J-1 visa, an individual must have already applied and been accepted to one of the many exchange programs that federal regulations designated as J-1 programs. These programs, which can operate out of the private sector, the public sector, or academia, are sorted into J-1 categories, which include but are not limited to:

  • Intern
  • Teacher
  • Trainee
  • Au pair
  • College/University Student
  • Professor and Research Scholar
  • Government Visitor
  • International Visitor

The State Department establishes additional requirements under 22 CFR §62.10  for both prospective J-1 visa recipients and their sponsors, all of which a nearby attorney could explain in further detail. Visiting visa recipients must apply for a program that suits their needs, skills, and life experience, and they must be proficient enough in English to effectively participate in that program.

Sponsors are expected to provide information to visitors before their arrival about traveling to the United States, housing, healthcare, expected fees and costs, and other aspects of the program in which they will participate. Once a J-1 visitor arrives, their sponsor must offer thorough orientation on local customs, resources, and emergency services, and they must monitor the visitor’s participation in their program and their general welfare for the duration of their stay.

The J-1 Visa Application Process

After being accepted into a qualifying program, a prospective J-1 visitor must complete both the DS-2019 form their sponsor sends to them and the Non-Immigrant Visa Application DS-16, which is available online through the U.S. Immigration & Citizenship Services (USCIS) website. They must also pay a $160 visa application fee, as well as an I-901 processing fee.

If a prospective visitor is between the ages of 14 and 79, they will almost certainly need to schedule a visa interview at their nearest U.S. consulate or embassy. At this interview, they will need to present confirmation that they completed the aforementioned forms and paid required fees, as well as a valid passport and potentially additional documentation depending on their chosen program. A lawyer in the area could provide additional guidance about this process and help an applicant prepare for the J-1 visa interview.

A Naperville J-1 Visa Attorney May Be Able to Help

Anyone who intends to come to the United States to participate in an exchange program must have a J-1 visa to be allowed into the U.S. at a port of entry. The application process for this type of visa can often take months, and it should begin before the program is scheduled to start.

If you need help applying for this type of visa or would like guidance regarding your obligations as a sponsor, a Naperville J-1 visa lawyer could assist you. Call today to discuss your unique situation and start the application process.

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