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Frequently Asked Questions about Exchange Visitor Visas


Should I wait for my DS-2019 to arrive before scheduling my interview appointment?

Although you will need your DS-2019 for your interview, it is important to schedule your appointment well in advance. Select a date on which you expect to have your DS-2019.

I have not received my DS-2019 yet. What should I do?

Contact your program directly. If the program does not have the forms, it should contact the Office of Education in Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

My J-visa has been issued. However, I received a new DS-2019 of the same program name from the same program organizer. The SEVIS and program numbers are the same as the ones on my previous DS-2019, but the program dates are different. Do I need to have my new DS-2019 signed by a consular officer?

If you have no signature at the bottom of your DS-2019, the new DS-2019, your passport with issued visa, and a self addressed letterpack Plus need to be sent to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate where you originally applied for a visa. A consular officer will sign and date if it is still valid for the issued visa.

How long before program commencement can one enter the United States?

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, exchange visitor visa holders may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the commencement date on the DS-2019. This 30-day limit does not apply to those returning to continue an ongoing program; they may enter the U.S. at any time.

I plan to have language training before my J1 program starts. Do I need a different visa?

You will probably need a student visa for the language school you are planning to attend.

How long can one stay in the US with a J visa?

J visa holders may remain in the U.S. for up to 30 days after the ending date listed on the DS-2019. 

I am currently an exchange visitor. Do I need a visa to re-enter the US?

If you are making a short trip outside of the U.S., your visa has not expired, and you are still participating in the same program listed on your J visa, there is no need to obtain another visa.

If your visa has expired or you are changing programs, you will need to apply for a new visa

If my visa expires while in the US must I leave?

You may remain in the U.S. as long as you are on full-time exchange visitor status. On your next trip outside the U.S., you will need to obtain a valid exchange visitor visa to reenter the U.S.

Can one work on a J visa?

Exchange visitors are not permitted to work outside of their program.

Can family members work on a J derivative visa?

Family members are not permitted to work on derivative J-2 visas unless permission has been obtained in advance from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Study at academic institutions is possible.