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What Should You Know About J1 Visa Duration and Processing Time

Updated: May 20

J1 visa duration and processing time: Many of us wonder about the duration of stay permitted on a J1 exchange visitor visa. Once you obtain a J1 visa, the minimum stay is 3 weeks, and the maximum continuous stay in the US is 5 years.

The J1 visa has different categories, such as interns, trainees, researchers, and professors. Depending on the category you apply for, the duration of your stay in the US may vary, but it cannot exceed 5 continuous years.

The various categories of J1 exchange visitor visas are well-described by the US Department of State. You can find detailed information about these categories by following the link provided. In my case, as an academic researcher, I was granted a J1 visa / DS2019 for 5 years.

What is the typical J1 visa processing time for applicants from India?

Getting a J-1 visa usually takes 4 to 8 weeks from the time you apply to when you receive it. But remember, the time it takes for your visa interview can change the total time it takes.

What is the DS2019 form?

A SEVIS-generated Form DS2019 is a requirement for applying for the J-1 Visa. This controlled form is provided by your program sponsor and serves as documentation of your acceptance into an exchange program sponsored by a State Department-designated Exchange Visitor Program sponsor.

Who will give me DS2019?

Designated sponsors are allowed to issue you a DS2019. In my case, it was my university (University of California) who issued me DS2019.

What is the duration of DS2019?

The duration of your DS2019 depends on your employer. Typically, universities offer DS2019 forms for one year initially, with the possibility of renewal based on available funding.

If your employer is an institute with adequate funding, you may even receive a DS2019 valid for up to 5 years. In my case, I was issued a DS2019 that covered 5 years.

Is it possible to get the J1 visa extension?

Yes, it is possible to get an extension if your sponsoring agency has funding enough to renew your DS2019 or DS-7002 (in case you are an intern or trainee).

Am I allowed to work on a J1 exchange visitor visa in the US?

Yes, but you are only eligible to work for the employer mentioned in your DS2019.

Can I switch to a different visa in the US after getting a J1 visa?

Yes, you can file for a different visa if you have an employer but in many cases, J1 exchange visitors are subjected to the 2-year home residency rule. You need to obtain a J1 waiver from the Department of Homeland Security before applying for a change of visa status.

If I get the J1 visa can I come to us a few months prior?

Probably not. You can travel to the US 30 days before the start of your program.

Can I stay in the US on a J1 visa if I get fired by the employer?

The J1 visa comes with a 30-day grace period. If you get fired then you have 30 days to look for a new job otherwise your stay will be counted as out of status or illegal stay. You might have to depart before that 30-day grace period ends. Read more.

Can I transfer my J1 from one institute/university to another?

Yes, the transfer is a simple process and your university/institute should be able to help you with that. I have done it multiple times.

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