Applying for Your Visa

A valid J-1 visa is required for entry to the United States on the Exchange Visitor Program. Visa procedures vary slightly from one U.S. embassy or consulate to another. Before you apply for your visa, check with the U.S. embassy or consulate where you plan to apply to learn about their specific procedures and policies regarding J-1 visa applications as well as to determine exactly what supporting documentation is required. For information on processing times and procedures, visit the U.S. Department of State at

NOTE: A personal interview is required, which needs to be arranged in advance, so you will need to schedule your appointment as soon as possible. Be aware that there could also be substantial delays due to security checks, so please plan your travel arrangements accordingly.

Steps to apply for a J-1 visa:

  1. Read your DS-2019 carefully to ensure the information is correct.
  2. Obtain a passport if you do not have one. Make sure it is valid 6 months into the future after the date of your arrival.
  3. Pay SEVIS fee ($220) with Form I-901.
  4. Apply for the J-1 visa with the nearest U.S. Consulate/Embassy.
  5. Review the health insurance requirements for you and dependents that are traveling to the U.S

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 may apply for J-2 visas to accompany J-1 scholars to the U.S. All requests for J-2 visa sponsorship for dependents must come from your sponsoring department. If you have already requested J-2 visa sponsorship for a dependent, then her/his DS-2019 form is included with your packet. You must be able to show an additional funds of $625/month plus health insurance (or funds for it) for a spouse and $375/month plus health insurance (or funds for it) for a child. Once in the U.S., eligible individuals in J-2 status are permitted to apply for work permission from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Work permission takes approximately 2-3 months to obtain, and it requires a fee to USCIS.

TOURIST VISA (B-2) OR VISA WAIVER PROGRAM FOR FAMILY MEMBERS - The B-2 visa currently allows a visit of up to 6 months. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP allows a maximum visit of 90 days. If your dependent has no plans to work, the B-2 or the Visa Waiver Program is a fine option for visiting you in the U.S. (To determine eligibility for the VWP, visit


The following is generally required by the consular for J-1/J-2 visa application:

  • Signed DS-2019(s) -- A separate DS-2019 form is required for each visa applicant. Each J visa applicant should sign his/her own DS-2019, with the exception of children under age 14 (the J-1parent should sign in this instance). The DS-2019(s) will be returned to you to present at the U.S. port of entry. Check your documents; make sure you check the form DS-2019 carefully to ensure the information is correct. If you believe there is an error, please contact OIA directly (

  • Receipt showing payment of the $220 SEVIS fee (J-1 only). Make sure to print the confirmation of payment of this fee; you will need this for your visa application. For more information and how to pay, please visit: The fee is non-refundable, even if the visa application is denied. Important: if you do not pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, then the U.S. Department of State will deny your visa application.

  • Payment of the visa application fee, and appropriate visa application forms (see for each visa applicant. Family members (J-2 status) will have to apply for their own visa and pay applicable visa fees. They do not have to pay the SEVIS fee as your fee covers the entire family. Passport(s) valid for at least 6 months into the future, for each visa applicant.

  • Proof of ties to your home country --Consult the website of your local U.S. Consulate/Embassy for suggestions.

  • Proof of financial support - You must be able to verify the total funds indicated on the DS-2019 with a personal bank statement and/or a sponsor’s official statement of support. If you are receiving payment from KSU, you may request a letter from the inviting department that specifies your position and salary.

  • Two U.S. Passport-size Photos (often required -- check with U.S. Consulate), for each visa applicant.

  • J-1 Invitation letter from the sponsoring department at Kentucky State University (recommended).

  • Evidence of J-2 relationship to the J-1 applicant (e.g. marriage or birth certificate).

If your visa is granted, the consular officer will place a visa stamp in your passport. If you receive a multiple entry visa, you may use it to re-enter the United States as often as you like up to the date of its expiration as long as you have a valid DS-2019 Form.

Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) FEE.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a U.S. government database designed to monitor the arrival, continuing status, and departure of F, J, and M visa holders. All U.S. educational institutions sponsoring international students and scholars are required by law to be enrolled in SEVIS. The database contains records of all J-1 scholars and J-2 family members. SEVIS is available to the Department of Homeland Security as well as to U.S. embassies and consular posts worldwide, and is used to determine a J-1 or J-2 Exchange Visitor’s eligibility to enter the U.S. or to obtain immigration benefits such as work permission, extensions, and transfers, while in the U.S. The current fee for exchange visitors (J-1) is $220.

  1. Students & Scholars seeking an F-1 or J-1 visa from a U.S. consulate abroad for initial attendance at a U.S. school.
  2. Students seeking a J-1 visa from a U.S. consulate abroad to commence participation in a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.
  3. Persons applying for a change of status to F-1 or J-1.
  4. Canadian nationals are exempt from the J-1 Visa requirement. However, they must pay the $220 SEVIS fee before going to the U.S. port of entry. The fee CANNOT be paid at the port of entry.
  5. J-1 students applying for a change of program category within the U.S.
  6. J-1 students transferring from fee-exempt Federal Government sponsored programs (such as Fulbright) to other J-1 programs.
  7. J-1 students transferring from reduced-fee J-1 programs to full-fee J-1 programs.
  8. J-1 students applying for reinstatement
  1. J-2 dependents
  2. J-1 students and J-1 scholars who are seeking an extension or transfer
  3. J-1 students and J-1 scholars who have previously paid the fee and are applying for a visa to return to the U.S. as continuing students in the same course of study
  4. J-1 students and J-1 scholars who have paid the fee but have been denied a visa who are reapplying for the same visa within 12 months
  5. Persons who have paid the SEVIS fee but have been denied a change of status to J-1 and who are reapplying for the same status within 12 months after being granted a motion to reopen the case
  6. J-1 participants in fee-exempt Federal Government-sponsored programs (such as Fulbright)

You must have a DHS fee receipt before applying for a visa or change of status. Third parties may pay the fee on behalf of the student or scholar.

To Pay Online:
  • Complete form I-901 online at Be sure to write your name and other information exactly as it appears on your DS-2019 form.
  • Pay the fee using Visa, MasterCard or American Express.
  • Print a copy of the online receipt. You cannot return to the screen that asks you if you would like to print a receipt so it is important to print the receipt as soon as possible.
  • Make a copy of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents, including the second receipt of the I-901 that you will receive in the mail.

To insure that your record in SEVIS is accurate and up to date please be sure to:

  • Report with Office of International Affairs (OIA) within 10 days of arrival.
  • Provide a local U.S. address and phone number, even if only temporary (J-1 federal regulations require OIA to report the arrival of exchange visitors in SEVIS within 30 days of the begin date on the DS-2019 form).
  • Notify OIA of any local address change within 10 days of moving;
  • Inform OIA of your departure from Frankfort should you leave earlier than 30 days from the end date of your DS-2019 form.