Resources > Section 17 > J-1 Visa Application & US Entry > Exchange visitor (J-1) visa
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After being accepted to a BridgeUSA J-1 Exchange Visitor by a designated sponsor and issued Form DS-2019 and SEVIS ID, prospective exchange visitors will apply for a J-1 visa at a US embassy or consulate (Canadians apply for J-1 status at a US port of entry).
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Commonly referred to as a “visa stamp,” a US visa is a travel document (a machine-readable visa foil placed in a passport or travel document) issued by a US embassy or consulate that permits the bearer to travel to a US port of entry to request permission to enter the US following a successful visa application.
1 Visa categories. Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa. There are two types of visa categories. An immigrant visa is issued to foreign nationals wishing to reside permanently in the US. A nonimmigrant visa is for individuals with permanent residence abroad seeking “temporary stay” to the States. the program period has ended, participants must return home during the grace period.

2 Visa types. There are more than 20 different sub-types of nonimmigrant visas. J-1 is a nonimmigrant visa for travelers admitted to a BridgeUSA (J-1 visa) EVP program by a designated sponsor. Other common nonimmigrant visas type used by foreign students are F for students attending a full-time program of study and M for students enrolled in non-academic or vocational study.

3 Nonimmigrant intent. When applying for a US visa, the consular officer must be satisfied that nonimmigrant visa applicants intend to return home following their J-1 program and do not plan to immigrate permanently to the US. The question of “intent to return home” may come up when applying for a J visa, entering/reentering the US in J status, and applying to change to J status within the States.

4 Eligibility vs admissibility. A US visa indicates that a consular officer abroad has reviewed the bearer’s eligibility to travel to a US port of entry and apply for admission to the States in a specific immigration category listed on the visa stamp. It does not guarantee entry to the US. CBP officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival.

Common questions

Should I apply for my visa at my home country or a third country?
Some US consulates and embassies allow third country nationals to apply for visas under some circumstances. However, the general rule is to apply for their visa in the applicant’s home country (or school country for foreign students). However, note that if your visa application is delayed or denied, you may be required to wait until the visa is approved or return to your home country directly to reapply for a visa there.

Should I specify my passport to be delivered to my home address or picked up?
Pick-up in person is safer than home delivery while the latter is convenient. If you select HOME DELIVERY, ensure that someone is present when the courier comes to you home.

What type of visa am I applying for?
A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the US generally must first obtain a US visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship. You will be applying for a nonimmigrant visa for J-1 internship.

Should I apply for my visa with or without an interview?
Interview waiver is permitted to some nonimmigrant visa applications while limiting the number of applicants who must appear at a consular section, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission to other applicants and consular staff. According to past experience, an in-person interview allows better control of the timeline.