What is a J-1 Visa?

As rewarding as it is to be a J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor on the federal BridgeUSA program, the process to get here can be confusing. To better understand the world of J-1 Visas, we’ll need to introduce six related - yet distinct - entities:

  • The first is us, InterExchange
  • The U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Embassies and Consulates
  • International Cooperators
  • American host organizations
  • And you, the participant.

InterExchange provides guidance and support to participants during their programs. InterExchange is your J-1 Visa sponsor, a resource, and a point of contact if you need assistance or experience an emergency while you are in the United States.

The U.S. Department of State oversees BridgeUSA programs. The Department of State also oversees U.S. Embassies and Consulates and designates reputable J-1 Visa sponsor organizations such as InterExchange to implement these programs.

U.S. embassies and consulates do a security check and review required documents and program requirements before issuing a J-1 Visa to program participants. Officers at the embassies and consulates make the final decision on whether or not the J-1 Visa is issued.

International Cooperators are independent organizations around the world that assist InterExchange by screening BridgeUSA program participants in their home countries, assisting with application and visa guidance, and helping with pre-departure preparation. Depending on your program, you may or may not need to work with an International Cooperator in your home country.

When you get to the USA, you’ll experience American culture and gain experience with a host organization (or a host family). Hosts act as your employer and provide any compensation you receive.

Finally, there’s you, a participant. BridgeUSA program participants visit the U.S. to experience American culture first-hand, to share their own cultures, and to gain valuable professional, personal and intercultural skills that will help them in their future careers.

Find more information on the specific programs offered by InterExchange offers here

To read more about BridgeUSA programs, visit https://j1visa.state.gov/programs

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