All you need to know about the J-1 Visa and all the possibilities to experience life in the United States of America.
How many of you have dreamed of going to the United States to live an experience like you see in the movies? How many of you would like to take a break from the routine of normal life and try a new adventure in the land of stars and stripes?
I’m sure everybody has daydreamed at least once to be in the warm California sun walking along the Walk of Fame in Hollywood or experiencing the nightlife in one of the greatest cities in the world, New York. And you know what? Now you can really see all these things because there are some programs which allow you to discover this wonderful country.
Before starting to speak about them, you need to know that to come to the U.S.A. you need permission to stay for the duration of the program of your choice. This permit is summarised in the word: J-1 Visa. It allows people (students) to explore the United States through a cultural exchange program for a maximum of one year. There are 15 different programs to get this Visa and travel in America: here is the link with the list of all 15 programs.
The most famous ones are Au Pair program, internship programs, study programs and Summer Work Travel programs. Each of them has its own requirements to meet so please check if you are eligible or not.
Regarding my personal point of view and experience, the majority of people, included me, are in the United States doing the Au pair program. Why? The reason is simple: you feel like you are at home. You will be hosted by a host family with a room and full board included plus weekly pocket money to use as you please in exchange for taking care of the children and to be integrated as part of the family.
Despite this little hill to climb, to get the J-1 Visa you will need first a sponsor which can be an agency, a school or an employer/organisation.
When you choose one, you will have to submit an application online and provide a series of documents as a proof of your eligibility.
If you are accepted, the organisation will send you the documentation by courier/mail (not e-mail because it has to be the original copy) for you to show at the Embassy of your country during the interview. Remember you have to show your proficiency in English to the organisation (normally by Skype or by phone) and to the Embassy as well. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a native speaker or very fluent; you just have to show you can have a normal conversation.
Once you are done with the interview, in a couple of days you will receive the Visa and from that moment the distance to fulfil your dream will be just a matter of days.
You can start to book your flights (sometimes it is the organisation that buys it for you). It could seem like a boring and long process but it’s not if you already have all the documents ready and the right determination.