Six Things to Know When Applying for a J-1 Visa

Do you have an offer to intern or complete on-the-job training in the United States, but don’t know where to begin?

Navigating the J-1 Visa process can be confusing and complicated. How do you know if the J-1 is a good fit for you? How long does the process take? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Cultural Vistas sponsored J-1 intern and trainee programs for over 4,600 students and professionals that took place in all 50 states in 2015 alone.

Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions for anyone considering applying for a J-1 intern or trainee visa.

Head this way to begin your J-1 journey!

Q: I’m really interested in gaining work experience in the United States! Can you help me find an internship or trainee program?

As you can imagine, there is a very high demand from individuals who seek internships and on-the-job training offers from U.S. host companies. While we do provide this service for select university and global partners, we unfortunately cannot assist with individual requests we receive for placements.

We do have some helpful tips to support you in this effort, however.  Using online tools or resources available through your university is always a good place to start. Once you’ve found a great internship or training placement, we are definitely here to help!


Q: I found my dream internship with my dream company and I can’t wait to arrive!  How soon can I start?

Great! Now that you’ve found a placement, start by submitting an online application request. We’ll be in touch within two business days. Our standard processing time is approximately four weeks from when you’ve submitted everything.

In addition to our processing time, you’ll need to think about appointment wait times at the U.S. consulate in your home country, where you’ll apply for the visa itself. Ideally, we recommend that you begin the sponsorship process two to three months in advance of your intended program start date. But if you’re in a rush, we have expedited processing available for an additional cost. Apply as early as possible to avoid delaying your program’s start date.


Q: I’m filling out my application now, do you really need a copy of my transcript/passport/resume?

Yes! If it’s on the checklist of documents, we really do need it. If we didn’t need it we wouldn’t ask, promise. The sooner you turn in your documents, the sooner we can move forward with your application and the sooner we can let you know if you are eligible so that you can begin preparing for your program in the United States.


Q: I’m really excited to start my program, should I go ahead and book my flight?

The enthusiasm is great, but please hold off on making your travel plans! We do everything we can to make sure the process runs smoothly, but occasionally problems and delays do come up unexpectedly. We recommend that you wait until you have received your visa from the consulate before making travel arrangements.


Q: When can I book my consulate appointment?

You can’t make your consulate appointment until after the application process is complete and your application has been approved by Cultural Vistas at the very end of the process. It is not possible to apply for a consulate appointment before your application for sponsorship has been approved.


Q: Will emailing my Cultural Vistas contact 10 times per day speed up the process?

Nice try. We’re working on processing your application as quickly as possible, promise! But flooding your Cultural Vistas contact’s inbox will delay the process for you and everyone. Of course, if you have a legitimate or urgent question or concern, please follow up directly with your contact. After all, we’re here to help.


Still have questions?  Check out more Frequently Asked Questions or reach out to


Erin Heffernan

Erin discovered her true love for both cultural exchange and gelato while living in Florence, Italy and currently supports international exchanges as a member of the Train USA Team. A true Floridian at heart, she can usually be found relaxing on the beach or wishing that she was relaxing on the beach.

View all posts by Erin Heffernan

8 thoughts on “Six Things to Know When Applying for a J-1 Visa”

  1. Do I need to apply for the J-1 visa first or for the internship.
    If I need to apply for the internship first how can I get an offer if I can’t go to the interview because I didn’t apply for the visa?

    1. Thanks for reaching out. You should apply for the internship first, as we don’t provide personalized placements for individuals. You’ll need to find an offer for an internship and then come back to us afterwards. Regarding your second question, We haven’t seen a situation where this is a problem before, as applicants often take part in Skype interviews. If you have any further concerns or questions, please contact us at

    1. Hi there, thanks for your note. You may be eligible for the trainee program if you are no longer in school. Please have a look at our Train USA page for more details on eligibility.

  2. Hi. I heard that J1 sponsors have allotments provided by the department of the state on how many people they can sponsor, thus you need to apply before the allotment is gone for that year. Is that true? If that is true, when is the allotment provided to the sponsors and when does it usually end up drying up? Thank you

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