Are you a native of India planning to visit the United States to enter a prestigious university, research program, cultural exchange program, or to complete an internship? In any of these examples, you will need a J-1 visa issued to non-immigrants traveling to the United States for academic or cultural exchanges.
As a leading expert in the exchange student and study/work abroad program space, Intrax Global Internships is well-equipped to prepare you with the necessary information you need to successfully acquire your J-1 visa in India, as well as connect you to programs and companies to further your education and jumpstart your career.
From culinary food service and hospitality management to student-teaching and even virtual internships, Intrax Global Internships is your one-stop shop to gaining valuable work experience that will launch you into a world of possibilities.
What is the J-1 Visa?
The J-1 visa is categorized under the U.S. government’s non-immigrant visa programs issued to academicians, scholars, researchers, and visitors participating in cultural exchanges.
Getting a J-1 visa can be a complicated, convoluted, and confusing process. Applicants must fulfill all eligibility criteria, find a reliable sponsor, and meet the English language requirements. Finding a sponsor, a US-based university, a government exchange program, or a private-sector enterprise is also important.
The J-1 visa allows foreign nationals to visit the United States to participate in programs performing as:
- An au pair
- Camp counselor
- College or university student
- Government visitor
- International visitor
- Research scholar
- Secondary school student
- Short-term scholar
- Summer work travel
Prerequisites for Obtaining a J-1 Visa from India
Before being ready to apply for a U.S. J-1 visa from India, students must meet a number of criteria, including:
- Funding Source —at least half of your program's total funding must come from a legitimate business, and not be a gift or loan from a relative or close friend.
- Effective English Communication – J-1 visa holders must have a certain level of English proficiency to complete an internship program. We evaluate participants’ abilities to ensure they are prepared for life in the U.S.
- Adequate Insurance Coverage—you must carry health insurance that provides at least the bare minimum benefits required by your host institution.
- Pre-arrival Orientation — sponsors are obligated to supply you with information about the chosen program and to hold an orientation during which you will learn specifics about your program.
- Valid Passport—Travel to the United States for at least six months before the end of your program.
- Full-time Enrollment—be prepared to enter your program as a full-time student during the academic year, even if you plan on working during academic breaks.
- Work Limit Compliance—If you do wish to work while studying, it must not exceed 20 hours per week and must occur on campus. During semester breaks, you are free to work full-time. However, working off-campus is strictly prohibited.
- Address Kept Up-to-date—If you move, you must inform your sponsor and your school of the new location within ten days of move-in.
Before submitting an application, and in addition to the aforementioned prerequisites for the US J-1 visa in India, students must present J-1 Visa documents:
- Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (DS-2019 form)
- The DS-7002 form, also known as the Training/Internship Placement Plan (only necessary for exchange visitor trainees or intern visa applicants)
- DS-160 online nonimmigrant visa application
- Valid passport
- One 2x2 photograph
Pay particular attention to the specific instructions provided by the US Embassy or consulate in India, as you may be required to submit extra documents for review. You must obtain a receipt of payment after submitting your application to show at your in-person visa interview.
Applying for the J-1 Visa USA from India
The application process for a J-1 visa can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. There are a lot of moving parts, including linking to a reliable sponsor, providing all the correct paperwork, as well as completing the process with enough time to spare before traveling to the United States from India.
Step # 1: Finding a Designated Sponsor
As is the case with other countries, applicants cannot apply for a J-1 Visa USA from India without a J-1 visa sponsor inviting them to attend their academic or cultural program. Research scholars and cultural enthusiasts can explore programs throughout the United States to find sponsoring enterprises, organizations, and universities.
As a U.S. Department of State designated sponsor, Intrax Global Internships simplifies the legal process of getting across U.S. borders. Further, Intrax provides ongoing support for the duration of your J-1 program.
Typical sponsors include universities, research organizations, state-run cultural exchange programs, non-profit organizations, and private enterprises involved in academic and cultural activities.
Before applying for the program, carefully read each sponsoring organization's eligibility criteria and requirements. Typically, most organizations screen promising applicants based on their English proficiency, academic background, and experience. You cannot proceed with the visa application without prior acceptance from a designated sponsor.
Step # 2: Submit the DS-2019 Application
Once you have gained acceptance from the designated sponsor or relevant organization, you can start working on your DS-2019 Form.
Officially known as the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status, the DS-2019 Form is an integral part of the visa application.
The US Department of State requires this document to verify your citizenship, run a background check, and determine your eligibility to travel, and consequently stay, within the United States.
The DS-2019 Form is what ultimately determines your application status. If approved, that’s when you will proceed through to an interview with officials at the US Embassy located in India.
If you’re applying for a J-1 visa USA from India to travel with multiple family members, you must submit individual DS-2019 Forms for each person in the party.
Important Note: Applicants cannot download this form online, as the two-page DS-2019 Forms are only issued by the designated sponsors or organizations inviting them to attend a US-based program. The form will provide a detailed description of the exchange program, including the total cost, financial aid, timelines, and schedule.
Step # 3: Submit your Application Fees
Applicants are required to submit a nominal fee to process their J-1 visa application called the SEVIS-I-901 which is paid to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as part of the total cost of the application.
Sometimes, this nominal payment is included in the program costs paid to your sponsor. Just to be safe, applicants are advised to consult their sponsors on the total program costs and verify whether they have to pay the SEVIS-I-901 fee or if the organization will cover it.
If the designated sponsor offers coverage for the fee, obtaining a receipt and keeping it as confirmation will help avoid future headaches.
Applicants will also have to pay the Nonimmigrant Visa Application Processing Fee. This fee has to be paid to the US Department of State under the official price for their visa issuance services.
The following applicants are exceptions and are not obligated to pay this Nonimmigrant Visa Application Processing Fee:
- Participants of a US Government exchange program
- Participants of a US Department of State program
- Applicants under the US Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Applicants sponsored under a US Government-funded educational program
- Participants sponsored by a US Government-funded cultural exchange program
Step # 4: Interview at the US Embassy
Final approval of your J-1 visa in India must be given by a consular officer in a United States Embassy or Consulate. Appointment wait times can vary by location, so it's best to plan ahead to avoid rushing things just before the start of your program.
The interviewer at the US Embassy in India will ask several questions; it’s imperative you make it clear you want to finish the program and return home at the conclusion. Bring any paperwork that will substantiate your strong ties to India, and be prepared to demonstrate these ties to apply for a J-1 visa for the USA from India.
Some of the topics covered in the interview will likely include:
- Specifics about the program for which you are applying
- Goals and objectives you have as a result of said program
- How you plan to meet your financial obligations while stationed in the U.S.
When you apply for a J-1 visa from India, you must verify the required paperwork with the appropriate Embassy or Consulate. The process of applying for a J-1 visa in India varies depending on the specifics of your personal circumstances and the Embassy or Consulate you plan to visit. Definitely best to do your research proactively so you arrive ready for your interview!
- US Embassy India: New Delhi
- US Consulate India: Chennai
- US Consulate India: Hyderabad
- US Consulate India: Kolkata
- US Consulate India: Mumbai
Step # 5: Finally, Receive Your J-1 Visa India
Following the successful completion of your application for a J-1 visa from India, a visa foil will be affixed to your passport. Sometimes, the day of your visa interview is also the day you receive the visa foil. Other times, they will mail your passport and visa back to you via certified mail.
You may be able to file an appeal if your request for a J-1 visa is denied. You should refer to the United States Embassy or Consulate in India website for further information on J-1 Visa laws and procedures.
Step # 6: Crossing the Border
When it finally comes time to arrive in the US from India, applicants must provide their passport, visa, and completed DS-2019 form at customs in the airport to be granted permission to enter. The decision about whether or not to grant access into the country is made by an agent from the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
How to Keep Your J-1 Visa Status
Exchange program participants who currently hold active J-1 visa status must adhere to the following regulations to keep their visa status in good standing. If any of these guidelines are violated, a temporary loss of status may be imposed. It could also result in a non-refundable cost of $367.
- Extensions or program transfers must be requested before the program end date specified on your Form DS-2019
- Before you are allowed to collect payment for any permissible action, you must first obtain approval and a revised Form DS-2019
- You must keep a valid program status for more than 120 calendar days following the date on Form DS-2019
- In the case of students, it’s required to maintain a record of enrollment in courses related to your program of study, unless explicit permission from a counselor and the sponsor is received to the contrary
In the case of serious offenses, a loss of J-1 visa status that cannot be reinstated is appropriate. Examples of infractions that would result in this:
- Intentional or deliberate failure to comply with the requirements of insurance
- Prohibited forms of employment
- involuntary suspension or termination from the most recent qualifying program
- Failure to maintain a valid program status for more than 270 days
Employer Sponsoring Your J-1 Visa
Even though holders of J-1 visas are permitted to work if that is the activity specified on their Form DS-2019, they are not allowed to engage in any other kind of paid activity. Doing so risks an indefinite loss of the visa.
You are, however, permitted to look for work with a company that is not the J-1 visa sponsor, so long as the type of job you are interested in is authorized under regulations governing the category of an exchange program. In addition, you are required to get consent from the relevant officer of the program sponsor.
Making Changes to or Extending Your US J-1 Visa India
Applying for a J-1 visa from India will initially be valid for the entirety of the exchange program in which you will be participating. In some circumstances, you may be able to approach the responsible officer of your sponsor for permission to seek reinstatement or extension of your visa before returning to India.
However, you are only permitted to prolong your J-1 status up to the maximum regulation duration of your program, which the United States Department of State determines.
The following are maximum time allowances to remain in the United States on a J-1 Visa from India for varying program categories:
- Short-Term Scholar – 1 day to 6 months
- Professor & Research Scholar – 3 weeks to 5 years
- Physician – up to 7 years unless there is an exceptional need
- Intern – 3 weeks to 12 months
- Trainee – 3 weeks to 18 months (12 months if in hospitality)
- Specialist – 3 weeks to 12 months
- Secondary School Student – 1 to 2 academic semesters
- College and University Student – one entire course of study or 24 months for non-degree students or 12 months for student interns
- Camp Counselor – 4 months
- Au Pair – 12 months (with the possibility to extend up to 12 additional months)
- Teacher – up to 3 years
Processing Time and Fees for a J-1 Visa India
No one likes to wait, but particularly in the case of applying for a J-1 visa, it’s essential to give yourself plenty of lead time.
The number of weeks it will take to complete a J-1 request successfully depends on several factors, including the number of other applications waiting at the Consulate in India, the institution and host you’re seeking, and even the season in which you apply can affect the timetable of processing your visa.
J-1 Visa Fees
Check the current rate to apply for a J-1 visa in India, as it changes relatively frequently.
- The cost of processing a visa is $160
- The cost to participate in SEVIS is $220 (some sponsors and host groups reimburse for this cost)
Other costs, such as transportation, insurance, and living expenses might vary significantly from one nation to the next and even within a single country.
Ready to Earn Your Place with an Intrax Global Internship?
Successful application and awarding of a J-1 visa opens some unique education and employment doors you may not otherwise get at home.
Traveling to a new country, meeting people from across the globe, and working in the United States is an opportunity not everyone gets to experience.
Start the process of getting a J-1 visa from India by searching internships through Intrax to learn more about the wide range of possibilities that are out there.