What Are The Applying Steps Of a J-1 Visa For Teachers?
Updated: Jun 6
The J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program is a great opportunity for non-US teachers and other professionals to enter the US and seek a temporary stay. It is designed to promote the interchange of skills and knowledge in the field of arts, education, and sciences. Whether you want to teach, research, train, or study in the US, you need to obtain a J-1 visa to achieve your goals.
Before we dig deep into the applying process for a J-1 visa, let’s answer a few basic but frequently asked questions. For instance, you may want to know who can apply for the J1 exchange program. Here is the answer:
Professors who want to teach or conduct research
Teachers of primary, secondary schools
Trainee in the medical field
Students of all academic levels
If you’re a teacher, you need to apply for a J-1 visa for teachers. However, you must do some homework before starting the process. It’s important to know the eligibility criteria, what documents you need, and what are the applying steps. To make things easier for you, we’ve come up with this post that will briefly enlist and explain all the steps you have to go through to obtain your J-1 visa.
First, let’s take a quick look at the eligibility criteria to make sure you meet all the eligibility requirements.
Step#1. Determine your eligibility for a J-1 visa
Starting with the basics, you need to get the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. The U.S. Department of State has designated the Teachers Council to issue the certificate, which is called the DS-2019. It is one of the basic documents you need to support your application for the J-1 visa.
The prime role of the Teachers Council is to screen the applications from prospective exchange visitors based on pre-defined criteria. They assess your application and all the supporting documents. The Council also assesses the host school for eligibility and compliance with the Exchange Visitor Program. So, the first step to obtaining a J-1 visa is to get your application reviewed with the Teachers Council.
Once approved, you will get your DS-2019 and further guidance on how to apply for the J-1 visa appointment at your local U.S consulate. It’s important to mention that the approval of your application is at the discretion of the Consular Officer. Even if your application is approved and you obtain your DS-2019, the Consulate Officer is the one who makes the final decision on whether or not you’ll receive the J-1 visa.
Here are some basic requirements for a J-1 visa for teachers:
You must be currently employed as a teacher in your country of nationality or legal residence.
You must be a non-U.S. citizen.
You must be 18 years of age or older.
You must have a degree equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree in a subject you intend to teach.
You must be eligible for teaching in primary and secondary schools in your home country.
You must have at least two years of teaching experience in a school.
You must not use the program to seek permanent residence or employment in the US.
Here are a couple of general requirements for J-1 visa holders:
English language proficiency
You must demonstrate that you possess sufficient English language proficiency. You can show one or more of the following certificates to establish your proficiency in the English language:
You must carry medical insurance with a certain level of coverage stated in the J-1 program guidelines. Your dependents (J-2 dependents) who want to accompany you must also meet the exact insurance requirements. Your sponsoring organization will verify that your medical insurance meets the regulatory requirements. In case you don’t have the needed coverage, your sponsor may facilitate the purchase of coverage.
So, are you eligible to apply for a J-1 visa? If yes, let’s move on to the next step.
Step#2. Find a sponsoring organization
Once you have determined your eligibility, the next crucial step is to find a sponsoring organization. It can be a private or public entity approved by the Department of State (DOS). Check out the list of approved organizations offering J-1 visa programs for teachers. Choose the one that offers your intended program.
J1 Teachers is the best platform to find a teaching position in the US without paying thousands of dollars to a recruiter for placement. It helps both schools and teachers to find each other without any involvement of a third party.
You must find an organization that accepts you into their program. Your sponsor will thoroughly examine your application before admitting it. You’re asked to choose between the “self-placement program” and the “placement program” in the initial eligibility programs.
Self-placed simply means you have already found a teaching position with a US host school. The placement program means you want the Teacher Council to find you a position.
Step#3. Complete the DS-2019
After finding a sponsoring organization, the next step is to obtain and complete your DS-2019 form. Officials who issue a DS-2019 form are called Responsible Officers (ROs) or Alternate Responsible Officers (AROs). You have to work closely with your RO because you need guidance from them throughout the application process.
RO will tell you what documents you need to submit with a complete DS-2019 form. You can also ask them for assistance on how to fill your application following the rules.
You might be thinking, why do you need to submit a DS-2019. The primary objective of the DS-2019 form is to schedule a visa interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy in your country. It comes with a unique identifier known as a “SEVIS” number. The form identifies you and your sponsor. It also includes a brief description of the J-1 program and a breakdown of the estimated financial support you will receive during your stay.
The DS-2019 is your record in Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You’ll be assigned a unique SEVIS ID. Before signing DS-2019, make sure all the information you provided is correct.
Step#4: Complete online nonimmigrant visa application (DS-160)
Completing the DS-160 form is for foreign nationals applying for a temporary visa: J-1 is no exception. This form will allow you to submit an online request for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. All visa applicants, including their dependent spouses and children, have to complete their D-160. You need to print out and keep the receipt that you will produce during the interview.
Step#5: Make an appointment at a US Consulate
The next step is to make an appointment at a US embassy or consulate in your country. The waiting time can vary depending on where you are located. However, it's important to schedule early to make sure you enter the US before your program starts. You also have to schedule an appointment for your family members to accompany you to the US.
Step#6: Prepare for the interview
The interview is probably the most crucial part of your J-1 visa application process. Therefore, you need to ensure that you have all the documents ready before the interview. Here is what you will produce at the time of the interview:
A passport valid for at least six months
Letter of Invitation from intended school
An electronically completed visa application (DS-160)
Receipts for the visa application and SEVIS fee
One photograph in prescribed format
Evidence that you have sufficient funds to support travel and your stay
Any information that shows your intention to return to your country after completing the program. It could include proof of ties to your family or community or proof of property.
Be sure to check with your consulate or embassy to confirm the documents you need when applying for a J-1 visa. The applying steps may be different based on your situation. So, perform all the steps before your interview.
Step#7: Attend the interview
The embassy will determine the interview’s date, time, and location and send you a message. Be sure you show up at the interview on the date and time scheduled. Missing your interview could delay the process.
Via application approval or rejection will be based on your performance assessed by the immigration officer during the J-1 visa interview. So, prepare well and answer all the interview questions truthfully. Any misleading information could lead to visa denial. Many embassies conduct ink-free, digital fingerprint scans during the interview.
The purpose of the interview is to determine your eligibility for the program and to make sure you’re not involved in any questionable activities. After the interview, you will be informed whether or not your visa is approved.