Before entering the United States as a foreign national, you must make several applications to verify your identity and reason for the visit. Moreover, visa application procedures are essential in ensuring that you enter the country for legitimate purposes. You want to engage an experienced immigration lawyer whose expertise in preparing Visa applications and interviews is exemplary. Working with a lawyer not only improves your chances of obtaining the J visitor exchange visa, but it also helps you undergo a non-problematic process for a better overall experience.
When applying for the J exchange visa, it is advisable to correctly follow the procedural instructions, including making applications in advance for a successful outcome. However, if you decide to undertake the process alone, you may encounter more challenges than when you have a lawyer to help.
At the California Immigration Attorney, we provide high-quality services to California clients seeking to apply for J Visitor exchange visas. Additionally, you can benefit from our legal counsel that will be essential in helping you deal with more technical issues related to the J visa. For example, we are happy to guide you by changing your visa status in case of an intended extension of stay in the United States.
Defining the J Visitor Non-Immigrant Visa
Usually, foreign nationals looking to visit the United States apply for different visas, based on entry purposes. Among the various visas available is the J Visitor visa that gives visitors an exchange program entry into the country.
Thus, the J Visa gives visitors who are part of an exchange program the chance to work and live in the United States for a limited period. The visa may grant additional rights, depending on the existing provisions and the availability of modifications. For example, after completing your working agreement, you can travel to different states in the country with minimum restrictions.
It is essential to learn that the J Visitor visa typically allows you to stay in the United States for up to four months. Hence, you will have to schedule your trip so that your duration of stay does not surpass the Visa limit. Nevertheless, you will get a chance to apply for an extension of stay in some circumstances, as long as you follow the guidelines and regulations preceding your application.
Before starting the application process, your immigration lawyer will advise you to counter check several details regarding your visitor exchange program. The confirmation helps you fit into the correct visitor group for proper access to the allowance for each group’s activities.
Since exchange visitors carry out different roles, it is necessary to understand the provisions you will receive based on your category. Going over the information keeps you from running into trouble or facing delays from activities that your visa does not allow. Standard visitor exchange programs under the J visitor visa are:
Camp Counselor Program
Different organizations have links to multiple countries, meaning that the camp counselors may have to travel to the various states for events. Under the J exchange visa, you will receive a short term entry access into the United States to help you organize and participate in the camp activities.
As a camp counselor, your duties may include organizing and decorating the camp venue and preparing course instruction materials for the camp attendees. You may also be in charge of admitting the attendees upon their arrival, meaning that you will have to be at the venue beforehand.
Therefore, when filling out the visa application forms, you want to factor in all activities that require your physical presence to avoid excluding some days in your trip. We recommend consulting with the person handling your registration in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), to confirm that your details are available in the database.
The system contains essential information on every foreign national who intends to travel to the United States under the J visitor visa. As a result, you cannot receive a visa confirmation if your name is missing in the specific database. Hence, your details’ confirmation plays a significant role in avoiding delays based on inadequate information before receiving the Visa.
The Au Pair Program
Additionally, the United States has partnered with different countries to allow students to participate in the Au Pair program. Under the organized exchange visitor program, you get to visit the U.S and live with a host family for a specified period to gain a different cultural and educational experience outside your country.
The host should provide housing for the entire duration by giving you an extra room in the house or organizing for a close residential area if the house lacks sufficient space. However, situations, where you will have to live outside the host’s home are rare, as they undergo vetting beforehand to secure an adequate living area. Also, hosts should provide three meals a day to uphold essential health and nutrition.
Additionally, you will provide domestic assistance like babysitting, dropping and picking the children from school, and other simple house chores for six to seven hours per day. With the available domestic assistance positions, you can earn some wages to help with your upkeep, especially if you need to make personal purchases during your stay.
Most hosts also encourage you to save the money you earn in case of emergencies, to grant you accessible cash if they are not around for assistance. You need to note that the compensation you receive from your host should meet the set standards under the labor regulations in the United States to avoid exploitation.
Usually, your J visa will allow you to live with the host family for up to one year, as you continue earning from the domestic chores. Moreover, the Au Pair program requires you to undertake an educational course that earns you school credit for the entire duration. As a result, you may enroll in an institution that provides college-level education where you will stay.
While the standard duration of stay in the United States is twelve months, you have a chance to apply for an extension of stay. If successful, you will get an additional six, nine, or twelve months. However, you need to apply for the extension before your current J visa expires to cater for the possible delays in the renewal or extension of your stay duration.
Apart from participating in the au pair program that lets you work and study in the United States for some time, you may choose to join Educare. The program is slightly different from the Au Pair system because Educare focuses on providing training skills and guidance to exchange students, including providing short-term jobs after the training.
Many program beneficiaries can later join different programs to travel and interact with other students in the country, provided they complete the stipulated training time.
Summer Work and Travel Programs
Summer programs are also commonly available for U.S non-citizens, giving them a chance to work and travel around the country for the entire summer. The summer program is widely known to students worldwide, especially those pursuing their college or university studies.
The summer work and travel programs’ primary goal is to open up foreign nationals to different opportunities and interactions with various other students in the U.S. Moreover, since the programs include students from different countries meeting in the United States, foreign bonds arise and continue beyond the program’s conclusion.
While in the United States, you get to work in different fields, based on your initial application choices. For example, you can work as a summer camp assistant to help facilitators organize the various activities throughout the sessions.
Additionally, you may join different volunteer groups from non-profit organizations and religious holdings to work for a specific duration and travel the country upon completing your work period.
You need to note that summer work and travel programs offer a max stay of four months. Thus, your working program should run for a reasonable time to provide you sufficient room for traveling and interacting with other students who are also part of the program.
Despite this, you will have a chance to apply for a change of status in your visa to allow you an extended stay period. The process involves reaching out to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval.
Thus, we recommend consulting your immigration attorney before choosing to apply for the change of status, as he or she will guide you on how to meet the requirements and follow the correct procedures.
The Government Visitor Program
The United States is also keen on building and strengthening bonds with different countries to promote amicable relations. As a result, you may be selected to participate in a government visitor program, whereby you and other chosen people can visit the U.S under the J visitor exchange visa.
Usually, the United States government or your country's government will be in charge of sponsoring your visit, including your upkeep and travel costs. Hence, upon selection, you want to reach out to your immigration attorney, who will take you through the necessary steps to secure your visa and benefit from the government sponsorship.
Apart from that, it is necessary to remember that government visitor programs are often exclusive to distinguished individuals from other countries, including renowned professionals, exceptional students, and diplomats. Therefore, the chance to participate in the plan depends on your qualification levels, among other factors in the eligibility criteria.
Apart from the discussed types of exchange visitor programs, you may also enter the United States using a J Visa to:
- undergo professional training
- undertake internship
- conduct research or fellowship as a professor
- work as a teacher or facilitator for a short period
- provide skills as a specialist in your field
Types of J Visitor Visas Available
The J visitor exchange visa is available under different categories, depending on whether you intend to travel alone or with your loved ones. Mostly, visa applicants request for J-1 visas, as they apply to travel by themselves. For example, if you are a student participating in an exchange program, you may not have dependents like children or spouses to travel with you. Hence, the J-1 visa is sufficient for your stay.
On the other hand, if you would prefer to travel with your loved ones, they will need to apply for a J-2 visa. The application process is similar to yours, as it entails providing all essential documents and information before accessing the visa authorization. In this case, you will obtain a J-1 visa that will be different from your loved ones.
When advising your spouse, children, or assistants to apply for the J-2 visa, it is crucial to understand the access to work and travel they will receive in the United States.
Additionally, an age limit exists for your dependents, whereby dependents over the age of twenty-one years become ineligible for coverage in a J-2 visa. Consequently, you may have to seek alternative visas for the dependents over twenty-one for a complete family visit.
Usually, the parties accompanying you generally have less liberty to participate in various activities, mainly if the invitation you received only accommodates your participation.
For example, if you have arrived in the U.S to work as a teacher, your spouse or children may only have the chance to travel around the country but not work in the same field.
However, the J-2 visa holder can apply for a work permit if your stay duration is long and requires you to have financial support from your spouse for a comfortable experience.
Applying for a J Visitor Visa
The visa application process begins with filling out an online application form, where you will include your essential details. The online forms are accessible on the American embassy website for downloads.
If you find some of the questions too technical to answer alone, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your immigration lawyer. Doing so will help you access all the information you need to avoid filling in wrong information that may lead to your application’s revocation.
When filling the online application, you also need to upload a passport-sized photograph that captures the full face structure for identification. You should take a picture in a white background to satisfy the requirements set out by the immigration office.
If you wear a headscarf or headdress for religious reasons, the passport guidelines allow you to wear the headdress in the photo, provided it does not obstruct the face in a distracting way. Thus, during the photoshoot, it is advisable to state why the images allow the professional to meet all visa application standards.
Additionally, you will need to apply for a form DS-160 that serves to place you in the non-immigrant category. As a Non-Immigrant, your visa is only applicable until your duration of stay lapses.
Subsequently, you cannot become an immigrant using DS-160 as it does not include these terms. Hence, the form is important because it distinguishes you from other visa applicants seeking to immigrate to the United States.
Scheduling an Interview Appointment with the American Embassy or Consulate
After successfully filling the online form, you will receive a confirmation message that allows you to schedule a physical appointment in the American embassy in your country.
The interviews are not compulsory for children under thirteen and seniors over seventy years, as they fall under special groups of individuals. Hence, if you fall within the remaining age group category, you want to schedule an interview appointment as soon as possible.
The waiting period for an appointment with the American embassy varies based on different factors. For example, if the summer season is approaching, more applicants seek the same visa for a summer work program.
Thus, you may face significant delays because of increased activity. With your attorney's help, you can avoid the delays by scheduling a meeting in advance, as long as you have all your requirements ready.
When the embassy approves you for the meeting, you have to pay a visa fee to support your application. The standard application fee is $160 to cater to the services you will receive as the office processes the visa. The fee payment should be complete before going in for the appointment, as you will need to show your receipt when presenting the required documents.
The Documents Required During your Visa Interview
Arrival at the American embassy or consulate marks the beginning of your interview, as you prepare to present all relevant documents for analysis. The need for a smooth process should help you perform due diligence and engage your lawyer to help confirm that you have all the necessary documents. If the confirmation process reveals that you have all documents, you will undergo a smoother process overall. The critical list of requirements to use includes:
- A printed passport-sized photograph.
- A confirmation page for your DS-160 application form
- your passport that is valid for six months beyond your intended stay period
- proof of financial support throughout your stay
- explanation of your reasons for traveling
- an eligibility certificate for your exchange visitor status
- your visa application payment slip/receipt
If your application process requires you to present additional documents, your attorney can help you anticipate the demand and prepare the documents on your behalf. However, the circumstances vary from one applicant to another, meaning you may not have to present the extra papers.
Applying for a Change of Visa Status
The J visitor visa offers you a chance to change the status, especially if you would like to extend your stay in the United States. Hence, if you have already arrived in the country but need a time extension, we recommend making a prompt application to the USCIS to avoid using an expired visa.
There are different types of visas to adapt to, depending on your interests in extending your stay. For example, you may choose to change your current J visa to a B-1 visa to allow you to conduct business and stay for longer. Your immigration attorney will give you the required information to help you apply for the best status in your case for an efficient outcome.
Requirements for Applying for a Change of Visa Status
While the opportunity to adjust your visa status is available, you must meet specific eligibility criteria before proceeding with the application. The requirements exist to allow only members with good conduct and valid passports other than the stay period’s extension. The general requirements to satisfy are:
- Your passport must be valid for the extended period you intend to stay.
- You should have received legal entry into the United States under a non-immigrant Visa.
- You must have been a law-abiding person while in the United States, without a criminal record.
- You must have applied for a change of status before your current J visa expired.
Since the adjustment period may take some time before finalization, you should be ready to face a significant waiting period. However, if you have fulfilled all requirements, your application is likely to go through.
Find an Immigration Attorney Near Me
The visa application process is often long and complicated, primarily because of the numerous documentary requirements the immigration office expects you to meet. Failure to submit the information with the stipulated deadline may delay your application, as the immigration office can revoke it and ask you to submit new documents.
Subsequently, it is advisable to seek a professional immigration attorney conversant with J Visitor Non-Immigrant visas. This way, you will be more confident with the application process and face little to no interruptions. The California immigration attorney provides excellent services to foreign nationals seeking to apply for nonimmigrant visas, including a J visitor visa in California. With our years of experience in immigration law, you can count on us to deliver professional legal guidance and support until you receive your visa. To get in touch, call us today at 424-789-8809.