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F-1 and J-1 US Student Visa Process guide

 F-1 and J-1 US Student Visa Process guide

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Confused between the various types of US student visas? Well, learn all the details about the F1 and J1 student visa for studying in the United States of America and how they are different so that you can identify which one applies to you

Aishwarya Bhatt
Updated on:  05 Sep 2023  | Reviewed By: 
| 9.06K | 8  min read

Every year, the USA receives over 90,000 applications for student visa (both F1 and J1) from students all over India. For an Indian student to gain entry into the US, they need to fulfil all the criteria for application, the most important of which is the documentation submission.

Latest Update: Students applying for US visas will have to pay $185 instead of $160 starting May 30, 2023, according to the latest announcement by the US Department of State.

There are 3 categories of student visa basically: F1, J1, and M1 visa. But in this article, we're gonna look into the details of the procuring processes of the former two only. 

  1. list items F1 Visa: The first one, and the most sought after is the F1 visa. This is for all students wishing to pursue either of the two- undergraduate or post-graduate studies in the USA. (These students tend to require more than eighteen hrs of education in one week. ) 
  2. list items J1 Visa: On the other hand, the second visa - J1 is aptly designed for education seekers who would be traveling to the USA for an exchange program. Whereas the third kind of student visa has been designed for students planning to attend skill-specific training or industrial schools, which are quite the same as F1 visa, but these visas are constrained to a limited time period only.

Read more about: US Visa Types and Its Importance 

Read on to find the detailed processes for applying for F1 and J1 visas.

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What is the Process of Getting an F1 Visa?

1. Enrolling into the SEVP List

Just an admit to any university, won't make you eligible to enter the USA. It is mandatory that the University you are admitted into should be under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) list. This SEVP list is the list of all institutions, which are recognized and authorized under the govt of the USA and only these institutes can provide all the necessary documents that are absolutely required for the Student Visa process.

And when you're finally accepted by any of these institutes, you are onboard the Sevis System and you will receive the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students), also called as the I-20 form. Here is where your next step begins!

2. Clearing your  SEVIS I-901 Dues 

The fee for the SEVIS I-901 form is $200. It is mandatory that you input all your required details exactly as they are present on your Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students. 

3. Fill the DS-160 Visa Form 

Right after you've been acknowledged for the SEVIS I-901 form (you'll receive a receipt), and then you are eligible to fill up the DS-160 form. The DS-160 is actually an online F1 visa application form. It is highly recommended that you start out with this application right away without wasting any time.

Don't leave it to the last minute. Although the visa will most probably be issued at max 120 days precedent for your arriving date to the US, you cannot make an entry till at least 30 days precedent to when your course commences... This process is fairly simple, and you just have to go through the instructions very carefully. Just remember to jot down the application's identity number, which is essential if you leave the process of filling midway.

Include the below-given facts in the DS-160 form:

  1. list items Your name as per the birth certificate and your DOB.
  2. list items Permanent residential address and valid phone number.
  3. list items Correct passport details.
  4. list items Valid photograph fulfilling all necessary requirements.
  5. list items All relevant facts about your travel journey plans, and the travel buddies accompanying you.
  6. list items All true facts of previous US travel, if any at all. 
  7. list items The person that can be contacted or linked with you, residing in the US. 
  8. list items Factual and exhaustive compilation of your Family, work and academic background.  
  9. list items All correct, valid, up-to-date collateral, backing and medical reports.
  10. list items In the rare case that you are unable to upload your photo onto the site, you can always take a hardcopy of it along with you on your student visa the day of the interview.

4. Clearing your MRV Dues

MRV fee needs to be now cleared by you in order to move ahead. The amount is about 185 USD.

5. Finalize Your Day of Interview & Biometric Appointment

When you finally arrive on the day of your interview, make sure all the above steps have been cross-checked by you successfully. All fee dues should be cleared, documents should be ready and verified, xerox copies, photographs should be at your immediate disposal, and everything has to be doubly checked off your list. Go through the common interview questions and patterns and make sure you're prepped up accordingly. Be organized and reach early that day to exude that extra confidence!

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What is the Process of Getting a J-1 Visa?

J-1 visa status is supposedly useful for students in very precise educational exchange programs such as the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Fulbright, LASPAU, DAAD, AmidEast, amongst other programs. It can very well be utilized by the University for their students pursuing some degree programs. 

Also, another important thing for a student's eligibility for the J1 visa is that they must be receiving a major portion of their monetary support from sources other than personal funds. Thus we see, money is a huge difference between J1 and F1. Read carefully about all the benefits and restrictions of the J-1 student status (as specified by the Government). Apart from these points, specialised health insurance coverage is also a must for students for the J1 visa. 


The Eligibility of a Student for J1 Visa Depends on the following Criteria as Given Below 

  • list items They must necessarily have an adequate amount of monetary support in totality for all of their school and living expenses, including additional financial support for any dependents that are in your company throughout your stay. 
  • list items Another significant point here is that an aggregate of a whopping 51% of your entire financial support must be directed from an institutional or government sponsor in the form of scholarships, fellowships, assistantships, stipend with you being the intern, tuition waiver, or other direct support provided specifically for the educational program. Individual/ family funds and borrowed loans or support from family or friends will not qualify under this point.

Steps Involved

  1. list items STEP: Get a Sponsor: Keeping in mind the financial aspects of this visa that have been understood as above, if you are applying for J1 visa, you must definitely need to get yourself a sponsor first.
  2. list items STEP: Apply for the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchanger Visitor J1 status also referred to as the DS-2019: This form gives you a detailed analysis of things like your term period of the exchange program you are going to attend as well as the monetary compensation you might have to produce.
  3. list items STEP: Clear the Dues:  The SEVIS 1-901 fee is to be cleared by you at this stage and make sure you have the receipt of the payment. Also pay the Visa Services fee, which is approximately $185.
  4. list items STEP: The Interview: You need to arrive with all the documents ( DS-2019 Form, DS-7002 form, Form DS-160, a valid passport, photograph) to the US Embassy and be prepared to ace the interview. Go through all the common questions and be confident.

What are the Common Tips to Keep in Mind for both F1 and J1 Visa interviews?

  1. list items Be up-to-date with your preparation.
  2. list items Crosscheck and verify whether all documents are with you.
  3. list items Dress impeccably. First impressions are important.
  4. list items Try to calm your nervousness as it can be seen as a sign of weakness or dishonesty.
  5. list items Pay heed to your body language and personality.
  6. list items Be as thorough and compulsive as possible, avoid callousness. 
  7. list items Do not provide for any documents that are not required for.
  8. list items Do not enter the venue of interview even a minute late. It shows great carelessness.

How Can GyanDhan Help You With a Visa?

If you are looking for assistance in getting a study visa, contact us right away! We provide visa counselling services at the most minimal rates to students who wish to study in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Singapore, Canada, Germany,etc., for their higher education.

If you are particularly looking for a visa for the USA, we have an amazing deal for you. We can offer you help in preparing you for the visa interview process through ex-US visa counsellors. Once you get in touch with us, we can arrange a 30-minute call for you with the consultants who have worked in US visa counsels and embassies around the world and have taken thousands of real visa interviews themselves. They will address all your doubts you have regarding the US study visa and will also let you know your shortcomings and expert tips & tricks.

Fill this form now, and we will get back to you in just a few seconds!

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F1 & J1 FAQ Guide:

Are dependents of F-1 Visa holders eligible for employment?


Who is funding the student's education in the US for F-1 Visa holders?

For a person to qualify for F1 visa, the academic funding has to necessarily come from personal sources, organizational sources, or a combination of both these sources. 

Is the student with F-1 Visa eligible for on-campus employment?

Yes, part-time jobs are allowed while the academic period ensues. Even when it's a break, for instance, a recess in the education year, the student may work full time.

Is the student with F-1 Visa eligible for off-campus employment?

Yes, they are eligible for Optional Practical Training. The time period for this is 12 months. 

Who is funding the student's education in the US for J-1 visa holders? 

The majority of academic funding here has to flow via outside sources like the university itself, or government, for e.g. in case of scholarships, exchange programs, etc.

Is the student with a J-1 visa eligible for on-campus employment?

Yes, part-time jobs are allowed while the academic period ensues. However, in the case of recess in the academic study period, the student has to acquire permission from their OISS advisor. 

Is the student with a J-1 visa eligible for off-campus employment?

Yes, they are eligible but only when it is directly related to their field of study, not otherwise. The term period here is up to 36 months. 

Is the 12-month bar applicable for J-1 visa holders?

Yes. J1 students can be barred from entering the country of the USA for a whole year in case they study on a J1 visa basis, for more than a time period of 6 months. 

What is the 2-year requirement for J-1 visa holders? Is this applicable here?

J1 visa students who are going to receive academic funding from their own country government or the US government have to establish a “home country physical presence residence requirement” for a minimum of two years in order to be eligible. 

Apart from this, these dos and dont's will ensure that you get your desired visa, definitely.

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