How Much Does a J-1 Visa Cost?

All the J-1 visa fees detailed: mandatory, optional fees.

As you may already know, the J-1 visa is one of the cheapest to obtain; however, there are still a certain number of fees that you are required to pay. It’s very important that you know about them from the beginning so you can make informed choices regarding your J-1 sponsor, successfully negotiate with your hosting company, and avoid ending up with a nasty, financial surprise!

The majority of fees are payable when you first file your J-1 petition. Do not forget to then budget your own expenses for your arrival in the United States and for your time in the program.

This article will help you detailing how much a J1 visa will cost to you or your company so that you may better prepare your budget.

Who Pays the J-1 Visa Fees?

Either you or your hosting company will have to pay your J-1 visa fees to the sponsor company handling your case. If you don’t know what a sponsor is, where to find one, and which one to choose, read this.

Most of the time, your host company will pay for the majority of fees for your visa, but some companies may ask you to pitch in. It is up to you to negotiate with them: explain clearly from the beginning what you will have to pay (this article will help you with the math) and remind them they will receive some tax benefits by hiring you with a J-1 visa.

How Much are the Visa Fees Specifically?

The Sponsor Fees

The fees you will have depend on the J-1 sponsor you choose as not all have the same price. Check our price comparison here.

In many cases, services included in the sponsor prices are:

  • The constitution of your case: the establishment of the DS-7002 in contact with your host company, and treatment of your DS-2019 application.
  • The creation and express shipping of your DS-2019 form (express shipping is always an extra cost).
  • Health insurance for the entire J-1 program duration. Your sponsor can offer you several insurances to choose from, or they will just give you one, giving you no other option than to pick it. You will have to pay the entire amount for your insurance when you prepare your file. So if you enroll in a 12-month program, you have to pay upfront the price for 12 months of health insurance. Be careful if you have an 18-month program. Since you can only pay for 12 months at a time, you will have to pay for the additional 6 months later in your program. Usually, your sponsor sends you a reminder one month before the one-year contract expires. Be prepared and have the 6-month insurance amount saved.
  • The support available anytime during your J-1 program in case you need help or have any issues.

You always have to make sure what services are included in your sponsor price! Each sponsor offers different services.

Mandatory Additional Services Fees (Possibly Included in the Sponsor Fees)

These additional fees may or not be included in your sponsor price, but keep in mind that you or your company will have to pay them regardless if they are or are not included! You won’t be able to get the J-1 visa and work in the United States without paying Mandatory Additional Services Fees in one form or another.

The fees are:

  • The Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fees paid to the US government, which was $220 USD in 2019.
  • The appointment fees at the embassy. You will need to make an appointment with the closest American embassy to claim your J-1 visa  – $160 USD.

If more services are included in the J-1 sponsor price, means you will have to pay less on the side.

If your host company is a small company and has never hired a J-1 holder:

  • There will be an on-site visit. An agent from your sponsor organization will come and visit your future work environment to make sure it is appropriate to host you. This often costs between $180 – $350 USD.

If you are followed by your spouse and children:

  • You will need to pay Visa J-2 fees (health insurance extension). Your spouse and children can also benefit from a J-2 visa in combination with your J-1 visa and be covered. The estimation is $600 USD per person for the first month + $100 USD for each additional month.

Mandatory Additional Costs (Services Not Offered By Your Sponsor)

These additional costs are mandatory for your visa obtention and are not covered by your sponsor organization. But it’s always nice to know about these so that you can budget for them. We provide you with details about everything! If you see that we forgot something in this post, please share it in the comments below and we will be happy to add it in the article. 🙂

Costs are:

  • The paperwork preparation on your end – you will have to print a lot of papers for your appointment to the embassy.

If you live far away from the closest US embassy:

  • Budget your gas, train, or plane ticket costs to get to the embassy, as well as your losses from your days off of work, hotels, and food.

Once you obtain your J1 visa, keep in mind you will have to pay:

  • Your return plane ticket.
  • The daily fees you will have in the United States, such as accommodations, food, transportation, phone, etc.

Optional Additional Services Fees (Possibly Included in the Sponsor Fees)

These additional fees are completely optional and may or may not be included in your sponsor price. It’s up to you if you want to make your experience more convenient, and if you need extra service in case of emergencies.

Services and fees include:

  • The online tracking of your DS-2019 application. This can be convenient, allowing you to not stress too much while managing the entire J-1 application process. This fee is only available if your sponsor offers this service; otherwise, I don’t know if it is possible to track the application (if you know, post a comment in this post below).
  • Advice on how to prepare for your departure to the United States.

If you are in a hurry to get your J-1 visa:

  • you can ask your sponsor for an urgent process, which expedites the processing of the DS2019 to 3 to 4 business days instead of 10 or more. Some of them offer this service for an extra cost – between $200 USD to $1,500 USD – the price varying depending on your sponsor.

You have to decide if you want to save some money and have a longer processing period or to pay more to finish the entire process quickly. For example, you can spend hundreds of dollars more to have the DS formulary processed faster, and then another extra fifty or sixty dollars to receive it sooner by mail (you will receive everything via the mail). Check with your sponsor to see what they can do!

If you don’t want to spend too much time on your job search, or if you are having a hard time finding a host company:

  • some sponsors (or partners of those sponsors) offer to find a host company for you. This service does involve placement fees, which are estimated to be between $1,200 USD and $1,400 USD.

As an alternative, you can use USponsor Me, which contains job openings with guaranteed J-1 visa sponsorship or a great visa score (a percentage detailing the chance of being sponsored for the J-1 visa for the concerned company). You can also subscribe to our subscription that will allow you to craft a great American resume, adapt it for each listed job, and obtain the contact info of people inside the concerned companies, etc.

Did this post help you calculate your budget? Share your comments below!

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Sarah Papasodaro

Expat in the USA, CEO & co-founder of USponsor Me. My goal is to help you achieving your American Dream: living and working in the USA. :)