J-1 Visas: Your 5-Step Checklist

Kelli Vorndran
J-1 Visas: Your 5-Step Checklist

Figuring out the application process for a J-1 visa can be challenging, so HCC Medical Insurance Services ("HCCMIS") created this easy, five-step checklist to help you as you explore opportunities abroad.

Step 1: Make Sure the J-1 Visa is Right for You

If you are considering working and studying in the United States, the J-1 visa might be right for you. Issued by the United States to promote cultural exchange, J-1 visas are short-term, non-immigrant visas for international visitors enrolled in work-and-study-based exchange programs.

Another option is the F-1 visa, which is for those who wish to study on a longer-term basis and receive a degree from an American institution. If that describes your situation, visit our F-1 Visa page.

However, if you...

  • Want to gain work experience in the U.S.
  • Intend to learn and exchange ideas with American counterparts
  • Plan to return to your home country upon completing your work program

...then a J-1 visa is right for you.

Step 2: Choose a Program

There are 14 distinct programs. Decide which one best applies to you.

  • Au Pair
  • Camp Counselor
  • College/University Student
  • Government Visitor
  • Intern
  • International Visitor
  • Physician
  • Professor and Research Scholar
  • Secondary School Student
  • Short-Term Scholar
  • Specialist
  • Summer Work Travel
  • Teacher
  • Trainee

For descriptions of each program, visit https://j1visa.state.gov/programs. After choosing a program, your next step is to find a certified sponsor.

Step 3: Find a Sponsor

To apply for a J-1 visa, you must first be accepted by a certified exchange visitor program sponsor. Each sponsor offers slightly different services, so be sure to explore your options to find the best one for your specific program.

Your sponsor will:

  • Facilitate your J-1 visa application process
  • Be your main point of contact throughout the exchange program process
  • Monitor your welfare and progress during the length of the exchange program

All certified sponsors are listed on the government J-1 Visa page.

Once you have decided on a sponsor, begin the application process for that specific program.

Step 4: Begin the Application Process

Although every sponsor has a slightly different process, they all require you to:

  • Complete Form DS 2019: You can get this form only from a certified program sponsor
  • Interview at a U.S. embassy: Many sponsors will help you prepare for this
  • Have travel medical insurance coverage

Your travel medical coverage should include the following minimum benefits*:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with medical evacuation of the exchange visitor of his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

Your sponsor will help you with the required forms and interviews. HCCMIS can help you with travel medical insurance.

Step 5: Get travel medical insurance

HCCMIS offers travel medical insurance options that meet all J-1 visa requirements.

  • Atlas Travel Insurance: Customizable medical insurance plans for anyone traveling outside of their home country
  • StudentSecure Insurance: Comprehensive medical coverage for full-time students or full-time scholars studying outside of their home country

HCCMIS plans also include coverage for many sports activities without any additional costs. When you get travel medical insurance to meet J-1 visa requirements, you also get peace of mind knowing you will save on out-of-pocket medical expenses.

* https://j1visa.state.gov/sponsors/how-to-administer-a-program/

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