It is very important to enter the United States with the proper visa. You must apply for an entry J-1 visa stamp in your passport so that you can enter the U.S. in J status. J entry visas can only be obtained outside of the United States at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
How to Apply
Obtain a DS-7002 and DS-2019
Ask your UMN hosting department to begin the process by following the steps explained on our Inviting a J-1 Student-Intern page. The first two steps involve completing and submitting application materials to ISSS (to be submitted no later than two months before you expect to start your program at UMN). ISSS will then process both the DS-7002 and the DS-2019 for you. If you have dependents eligible for J-2 status (spouse and/or children), you must inform your UMN hosting department and include your dependents’ information in the application materials.
Your UMN hosting department will then mail the final, signed DS-7002, DS-2019, and supplemental materials to you.
Pay the SEVIS Fee
Once you obtain your DS-7002 and DS-2019, you must pay the required SEVIS I-901 fee. Student-Interns must pay the SEVIS fee before applying for their initial entry visa and entering the U.S. Typically, this fee is paid online. You will need the receipt of payment for your U.S. consul interview. Note that your J-1 visa application fee is in addition to the SEVIS fee.
Schedule Your Visa Interview
We recommend that you apply for your J visa from a U.S. consulate/embassy in your home country.
Follow your local U.S. embassy or consulate’s specific instructions for scheduling an appointment and applying for a J visa. Keep in mind that waiting times for an appointment can be lengthy (up to several weeks or longer), especially during the busy summer months. Schedule your appointment as soon as possible after receiving your DS-7002 and DS-2019.
Prepare Your Documents
All student-intern J-1 visa applicants must provide the following documents to the U.S. embassy or consulate at the time of the interview:
- Valid passport
- DS-7002 (can be a copy, but must be signed)
- DS-2019 (original document signed in blue-ink by ISSS officer, not a copy)
- Documented proof of financial support
- Receipt of SEVIS I-901 fee payment
- Visa application forms (available from the U.S. embassy/consulate)
- Any other documents requested by your embassy/consulate
Practice for Your Visa Interview
When applying for your non-immigrant J visa, the U.S. Consular Officer interviewing you will assume that you plan to immigrate permanently to the U.S unless you prove otherwise. During the interview you will need to prove that you will only participate in your program temporarily in the U.S. and will return home after your J program is complete. Answer all questions truthfully but only provide information related to the questions asked. Be prepared to answer confidently and clearly in English. You may need to discuss the following:
- Your major in college and your UMN internship goals
- Your reason for wanting to come to the U.S.
- Proof of sufficient funds and how your funds are able to cover all of your expenses during your J program
- Your reasons for returning home after you complete your J program. You must be able to provide documentary evidence where possible of the strong ties you have to your country. It could include having all of your family in your country, having a job offer waiting you when you return, or proof of property ownership. Other facts to emphasize are specific future educational, employment, or career goals that will be carried out in your home country. Do not emphasize relatives who live or study in the U.S.
We recommend practicing for your visa interview with a family member or friend.
Wait for Visa to be Issued and Request Date Amendment if Needed
Visa processing varies greatly from consulate to consulate. Regardless of the visa processing, do not let your DS-7002 or DS-2019 expire! You must arrive in the U.S. and complete your Student-Intern Check-In no later than 25 days after the begin date on your DS-7002 and DS-2019. If you cannot arrive by the given time period, you must communicate your delay to your UMN hosting department and request an amended DS-2019 and DS-7002.
Importance of Name Consistency
To avoid problems or delays in obtaining your visa and entering the US, ensure that all of your immigration documents reflect the same name, exactly as it appears in your passport.
Security Clearance Checks
Many visa applicants are subject to additional security clearance checks or “administrative processing” that can delay the issuance of your visa by several more weeks or months. Most applicants who are subject to clearance checks will eventually receive the visa. You cannot prevent a security clearance, nor can ISSS or your department intervene to expedite the process.
Video of the Visa Application Process
The U.S. Embassy in London has made a video showing part of the inner workings of the visa application/waiting room process.
Please keep in mind that both the process and processing time for a visa application vary depending on the U.S. consulate and the country where you will be applying for a visa. However, this video may offer you a brief overview of what that process might look like when you apply.
If you are currently in the U.S. as a J scholar at another institution and plan to transfer to the UMN to continue your program, follow the Transfer Procedures. Make note of special arrangements needed if you plan to travel out of the U.S. during the transfer process.
Canadian citizens are eligible to enter the U.S. without obtaining an entry visa in their passport from a U.S. consulate/embassy. However, Canadian citizens must obtain a DS-2019 and pay the SEVIS fee before entering the U.S. Upon entry, they must present to immigration their passport, DS-2019, proof of financial support for the length of their J program, and proof of SEVIS fee payment. Regardless of nationality, all J-1 scholars are held to the same arrival reporting requirements; they are expected to request an amended DS-2019 if they are unable to arrive within the allowed grace period.
Canadian Landed Immigrants: You are required to obtain a visa. Refer to guidelines above regarding applying for a visa at a consulate/embassy.
Spouses and children under the age of 21 are eligible to accompany you to the U.S. with a J-2 visa. DS-2019s for dependents may be requested at the same time as the your initial DS-2019, or after you have arrived in the U.S.