Having recently obtained my J1 Visa, I am soon heading out to work for 6 months in an architectural practice in Los Angeles. For me, the J1 Visa process was complicated and difficult to at times, but on reflection can be made a relatively simple process if one carefully follows throughout the process. Thus, the aim of this blog is to run through my experiences and the lessons I have learned throughout my path to obtaining a J1 Visa.
What is a J1 Visa?
The J1 Visa is an Exchange Visitor Visa that allows you to participate in a work-and study-based exchange visitor program. For me, this visa allows me to go work in the US before going back to the UK to study my masters in Architecture.
J1 Visa Requirements
This may sound obvious, but prior to starting the path to obtaining a J1 Visa and its application process, make sure that you are aware of all the requirements to successfully obtain the J-1. In particular, make sure that you can satisfy the previous experience working in your field requirement!
One of the most important lessons that I have learned throughout the process is important of time management and maintaining a time schedule thought the application process. I started my application process over 5 months ago, at the start of this I was very relaxed because I thought that I had so much time to play with. However, I found that many factors can influence and delay the application process, such as waiting on various documents from your host company, thus making it vital to stay ahead of the game and give yourself plenty of time to arrange for Embassy appointment before booking your flights and then travelling out to the US.
The importance of your Host Company
There are two programs by Architect-US that can help you in the path to obtaining a J1 Visa:
- Arrange the J-1 visa for those who have already found an internship or training position in the U.S.
- Arrange the J-1 visa and help find an internship or training in the U.S. for those who have not yet obtained a job.
When I reached out to Architect-US to help me with my J-1 visa I had already secured a Job, as such I can only comment on that avenue. Your host company has to fill out a long list of applications and documents and are integral to obtaining your visa. Although this may seem obvious, it’s vital to have a good relationship with my host company and specifically with the individual who is corresponding with your application at the company. My advice would be to be absolutely sure that your host company is fully aware of their responsibility throughout the visa process to avoid any shocks later down the application process.
Architect-US are experts in taking you through the visa process step by step. My advice would be to closely listen to their instructions throughout the application process and ask them any queries or questions that you may have, however simple or obvious they may seem!