Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage
Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses. Please reference the specific guidance on the visa category for which you are applying for more details on documentation required for derivative spouses.
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Exchange visitor (J-1) visas are nonimmigrant visas for individuals approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States.
Exchange visitor categories include:
Exchange Visitor Pilot Programs:
Exchange Visitors cannot travel on the Visa Waiver Program or with Visitor Visas – Exchange visitors who are citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) participating countries are not permitted to travel without a visa on the VWP, if their purpose of travel is to participate in an exchange visitor program, as explained below. For more information on the VWP, see Visa Waiver Program. Exchange visitors are not permitted to travel on business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas if their purpose is to participate in an exchange visitor program. All exchange visitors must travel to the United States with exchange visitor (J-1) visas.
Acceptance in Exchange Visitor Program – Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a J-1 visa, you must first apply for and be accepted into an exchange visitor program through a designated sponsoring organization. Visit the Department of State J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program website to learn about program requirements, regulations, and more.
When you are accepted into the exchange visitor program you plan to participate in, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Most J-1 Exchange Visitors must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.