How to Apply for Exchange Visitor Visa

If you are traveling to the United States of America, no doubt you will need a legal document called the Visa, which will grant you the legal rights of entering and living in the country for a stipulated amount of time. There are however various types of visas depending on the purpose of your visit to the US. One of these visa types is the J-1 Visa or Exchange Visitor Visa.

Exchange Visitor Visas are issued to travelers (nonimmigrant) traveling to the United States of America as part of an officially approved exchange program in the Arts, Education, or Sciences. Whether you are pursuing your academic studies, conducting educational research, or engaging in a cultural exchange, having an Exchange Visitor Visa will help you in achieving your dreams.

In this blog post, we will walk you through the steps of applying for an Exchange Visitor Visa, providing you with the necessary information to make your application a successful one.


Step-By-Step Guide on How to Apply for Exchange Visitor Visa

Below is a step-by-step guide o how to Apply for an exchange visitor visa


Step1:         Find a Program and Select a Sponsor

The first step in applying for an Exchange Visitor Visa is to find a program that aligns with your goals and interests. The exchange visitor visa is only available for the following kinds of programs:

  • Teacher
  • Professor
  • College/University student
  • Secondary school student
  • short term teacher
  • Specialist in a field
  • research scholar
  • Career STEM Research Initiative
  • Physician
  • Intern and Trainee
  • Government or international visitor
  • Camp counselor
  • Summer work travel
  • Au pair and Educare


Once you find the program that meets your condition, you can proceed to the next step of finding a sponsor. The Exchange Visitor program is administered by the US and participants must be sponsored by an approved Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor. These sponsors can include various organizations, schools, universities, research institutions, and cultural exchange organizations. The United States Department of State (USDS) has provided a list of approved sponsors for the program.

You should, however, know that the sponsors do screen their participants (applicants) based on their English Language proficiency. Contact the sponsors you want to apply for to learn about their eligibility requirements for the Exchange Visitor Visa program.


Step 2:        Obtain a DS-2019 Form

Once you have been accepted into an Exchange Visitor Program, your sponsor will issue you a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status Form, Form DS-2019. The form serves as proof of your participation in the program. It will include the start and end date of the program and also include the description and cost of the program. The form will give you the chance of having an interview with the US embassy or consular office.

You should ensure to fill the form accurately and honestly. You will be required to provide information such as personal details, contact information, and program details.


Step 3:        Prepare the Necessary Documents

You need to prepare certain documents prior to your attending the visa interview. These documents will be used in processing your visa and they include

  • Passport sized Photograph
  • duly completed Nonimmigrant Visa application form
  • Visa fee receipt
  • SEVIS fee receipt
  • Form DS-160 completed by your sponsor
  • Duly filled out Form DS-2019 form
  • Valid International passport((WITH SIZ MONTHS validity after your departure date)
  • Form DS-7002 (to be filled out by participants in the J-1 trainee and intern categories)
  • J-1 Visa Health Insurance


Step 4:        Schedule and Attend an Interview

After Submitting the DS-160 form, you are required to book an appointment at the US embassy or consulate in your home country. The interview must be scheduled well before the commencement date of the visitor exchange visa program. The interview date can vary due to many factors such as the number of applicants, time of the year, number of staff available, the location.

Additionally, you should be ready to explain your intention to return back to your country after the visitor exchange program concludes. Dress responsibly and arrive at the interview on time.


Step 5:        Pay the SEVIS and Visa Application Fees

You are required to pay the SEVIS fee; SEVIS is the Student Exchange Visitor Information System and is a web-based system that tracks and monitors exchange visitors during their stay in the US. The SEVIS fee will help fund the system’s operations.

You will also be required to pay the nonimmigrant Visa application processing fee on or before the day of the interview. The amount you will pay can vary depending on your home country and the type of visa. Students that are applying for the Visitor Exchange visa through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) are exempted from the nonimmigrant visa processing fee.


Step 6:        Wait for Visa Approval

If your visa is approved, the consular officer will attach your visa to your passport, allowing you to enter the United States as an exchange visitor. You should ensure to inform your work exchange visa sponsor of your visa approval and discuss any other requirements and orientation programs they may have.



The process of applying for an Exchange Visitor Visa is an important process that requires very careful planning and paying attention to detail. You should ensure to start your application early, prepare all necessary documents, and approach your visa interview early with confidence. You should, however, remember that the journey doesn’t end with the visa approval. You should embrace the opportunity that comes with the work exchange visa and be open to new experiences. Good luck with your application.