Frequently Asked Questions About The J-1 Visitor Exchange Program
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The Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 created a formal program that encourages the United States to interact with other countries by exchanging visitors for both educational and cultural purposes. The idea is to exchange ideas and gain a better understanding on how others live their lives and the values and principals they live by. Probably the most recognized program is that of exchange students but the program isn't limited to schooling alone. Lecturers, artists, musicians, scientists as well as a wide array of other cultural and scientific professions can participate. The starting point of course is the sponsorship of an exchange program and we have listed some of the most common questions that people ask.
Q: How does an organization apply to become a Visitor Exchange Program sponsor?
A: In order to participate in this program and be able to sponsor exchange students you have to be certified through the Department of State's Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Generally speaking you have to have a minimum of five persons who will participate in the exchange program over a twelve month period, have previous experience in exchange programs and meet specific financial requirements. In order to apply for certification your organization must submit form DS-3036 and a nonrefundable application fee of $1748.00.
Q: What are the financial responsibilities of a Visitor Exchange Program sponsor?
A: Because these programs are involved with the federal government, the government wants to insure that the sponsors can financially support the exchange program as advertised. For example if the sponsor is a summer camp for international musicians the Department of State wants to make sure they have the funding for staff, insurance and other operating costs. Proof of financial capabilities may take different forms from certified financials to posting a bond and naming the Department of State as the beneficiary.
Q: Who qualifies for a J-1 Visa?
A: As mentioned earlier the visitor exchange program is open to a wide variety of professions and could include nearly anyone so long as the intent of the visit is to further the objectives of the visitor program. For example these classes of visitors will qualify for the J-1 visa: students, scholars, trainees, teachers, professors, research assistants, medical graduates, or visitors who are participating in a program of studies that is specifically established for them by the United States Department of State, through its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and these can be just about anything.
J-1 Visa Holders
Typical projects that J-1 visa holders become involved with include becoming an au pair, serving as summer camp counselors, medical students doing their internship at American hospitals or foreign professors on temporary assignment to a sponsoring educational institution. The Visitor and Exchange program is an old and established means by which America shares ideals and values with the rest of the world. It has been successfully accomplishing these objectives for over 40 years and will likely remain a part of our foreign policy for years to come. It has faced challenges in this century simply because we are extremely concerned with security but both the DHL and the DOS have created methods to protect security yet still allow a free flow of ideas and cultures.