SEVIS Fee: The U.S. government now requires a fee of $180 for all new J-1 visa applicants which must be paid prior to applying for your J-1 visa or, if you do not require a visa (i.e., Canadians), before entering the U.S. Payment of the fee will need to be verified at the time of the visa interview at the U.S. Consulate or upon entering the U.S. at the airport or border crossing. Information about the SEVIS fee which is paid using a Form I-901 is available here.
Visa Application: If you are outside of the United States and require a visa to enter, you will need to apply for a J1 visa at the American consulate or embassy nearest to you. If you indicated that your immediate family members (spouse and minor children) will accompany you to the U.S., they should apply for a J-2 visa at the same time. Family members will require their own DS-2019 form from our office in order to apply for the J-2 visa and enter the U.S. As part of the visa application requirements, you will need to present a valid passport, the DS–2019 form, and the documentation of financial support, plus payment of the SEVIS fee. It is a good idea to apply for your visa as soon as possible. You should contact the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy to inquire about the details of their J-1 visa application procedures: appointment procedures, how long will it take, what documents are required, what is the visa application fee? If the application is approved, you will be issued a visa stamp in your passport with the classification “J-1” (or “J-2” for dependents). The DS-2019 and other documents should be returned to you by the Consular Officer. You will need to present these documents along with your new visa to the immigration officer when you arrive in the U.S.
NOTE: If you are a Canadian citizen, you do not require a visa to enter the U.S. You should present the DS-2019 form along with your passport to the Immigration Officer at the port of entry when you arrive in the U.S. You should also be prepared to present the documentation of your financial support and SEVIS fee payment if requested by the officer.
U.S. Immigration Inspection: When you arrive to the U.S. you will go immigration inspection at the airport or border crossing – if traveling by land from Canada or Mexico. You will be required to present your passport, J-1 visa stamp (if applicable), DS-2019 form and financial documentation. The officer will also process what is called an I-94 form, referred to as the Admission/Departure Record. This form was probably given to you on the airplane to complete. The officer will process the I-94 form by placing the admission stamp on it with the notations “J-1” and “D/S”. “J-1” of course refers to the status you are being admitted into the U.S. “D/S” indicates that you are being admitted into the U.S. until the “duration of your status”, or the duration of your J-1 program. The officer will then give you the bottom section of this form which will be a white card approximately 4 inches by 4 inches – some I-94 forms will look different. This is an important document. Upon leaving the immigration inspection area, you should be in possession of your DS–2019 form and the I-94 form (card). The I-94 form should include an admission stamp with the notation ‘J-1’ and ‘D/S’.