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Preparing for your J1 Visa Interview

If you are planning to get a J1 visa to come to the US, you will need to schedule a j1 visa interview with a consulate officer at the US embassy or consulate. Interviews are generally required for anyone between the ages of 14 and 79, while those who fall outside this age bracket are not required to conduct a J1 visa interview. With that said, however, that makes up a large portion of individuals who want to come to the US under a J1 visa.

It’s important to learn about the process, prepare your documents, and be informed about what J1 visa interview questions might be asked. This article will provide you with an overview of that very process so that you can prepare for your J1 visa interview.

Schedule Your J1 Visa Interview

The first step in preparing for your J1 visa interview is scheduling it with the US embassy or consulate. It is much easier to schedule an appointment in your place of permanent residence. While it is not impossible to schedule it in another country, it can prove to be quite difficult. Wait times can vary by location, visa type, and time of year, so schedule early so that you have adequate time prior to the start date of your program. It is best to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will conduct your interview to obtain all the instructions on what documents to prepare for the day of your interview.

Pay Your Application Fee In Advance

Prior to your interview, you will need to pay your non-refundable visa application fee to the Department of State. This fee is based on the type of visa you are applying for, and the current fee for a J visa is $160 USD. Individuals and their family members who are participating in a program through the Department of State, Agency for International Development (USAID), or a Federally funded educational or cultural exchange program are exempt from this fee. Make sure to print out a copy for your receipt as you will be required to show this documentation at the time of your J1 visa interview.

Collect & Prepare Your Documents

There is nothing worse than waiting for your scheduled interview, showing up, and finding out that you were denied because you didn’t bring the correct paperwork. Use this check-list to prevent this from happening and to help you prepare for your J1 visa interview:

  • Passport - Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months upon departing the US upon completion of your J program. If any family members will be traveling with you, they will need to bring their passport with the same minimum validity period.
  • Form DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application - This form is submitted right online and is for those individuals traveling to the US temporarily. You will need to bring the confirmation page with the barcode for the interview.
  • Non-refundable visa application fee receipt
  • Photo – Your photo is required to be uploaded when completing your Form DS-160, however if it fails to upload you will be required to bring the photograph with you to the interview.
  • Form DS-2019: Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status - Your program sponsor will give you and any family members traveling with you a SEVIS-generated Form 2019 that you will be required to bring with you for the J1 visa interview.
  • Form DS-7002: Training/Internship Placement Plan, if applicable - If you will be participating in the J-1 trainee and intern category, you will be required to bring this form with you as well.
  • Original interview appointment letter along with a copy
  • Original Bachelor degree transcripts or high school diploma with grades from institution
  • Evidence of employment and/or family ties - At your interview, the Officer will want to see that you have ties to your home country and that you intend to return home upon completion of your program. While the documentation will vary based on the individual, you will need to show the purpose of your travel and intent to depart the US after the program finishes.
  • Financial ability to pay - Another document that you may be required to show is that you have sufficient funds to cover all of the costs for your travel. Bank records (such as bank statements, pass book, bank books, etc.), pay slips, employment letters, accountant statements, scholarship paperwork, and/or tax returns from the past three years should be brought with you. If you have a parent or family member who Is going to help finance your studies, be sure to bring relevant documentation for this as well. Many consulates and embassies discourage bringing property deeds or certified copies of financial documents.

This is an outline of the frequently requested documents however every consulate has their own procedure so make sure to double check prior to your interview date.

J1 Visa Interview

On the day of your J1 visa interview, be sure to arrive prepared with your documents in hand. A consular officer will be talking with you and reviewing your paperwork to make the final decision as to whether you qualify for the J1 visa. It’s important that during your interview you are honest and stress that you plan to return back to your home country upon completion of the program.
Here are some common J1 visa interview questions:

  • Why do you want to go to the US?
  • What are your qualifications?
  • What are you currently doing?
  • Which university are you enrolled at (or, have you graduated from?)?
  • What program are you applying to?
  • When did you apply for your program?
  • How much was your placement fee?
  • Who is going to pay for your expenses? How much do you/they make?
  • Tell me about your housing.
  • What will you be doing in the US?

Typically done during your interview, you can also expect to get a digital fingerprint scan as part of your application. If your visa is approved, you may also need to pay an additional visa issuance fee depending on your nationality. At that time they will process your passport that will either be returned by picking it up at the consular/embassy or delivered by the courier.

Congrats, you have successfully prepared for your J1 visa interview!

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