Student VISA

J1 vs F1 Visa: Find Out the Difference between J1 and F1 Visa

Yocket Editorial Team

Pursuing higher education in the US is a dream for many but manoeuvring through the complicated process of visa applications, meeting eligibility criteria, and taking charge of finances can seem daunting and even worse, intimidating. The US student visa is easy to get hold of, provided you have each and every document asked for. Choosing between an F-1 and J-1 visa can be a task, if you have limited information on both. 

If you are wondering what the difference is between a F-1 and J-1 visa, and which one is the best for you, we have created a detailed step-by-step guide that takes you through the whole process. So, let's dive in right away and help clear all your doubts on J1 vs F1 visa! 

  Table of Contents 

What is a J-1 visa?

A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the US to research scholars, professors and exchange visitors/students participating in programs that promote cultural exchange & training within the United States. All applicants must meet eligibility criteria, English language requirements, and be sponsored either by a university, private sector or government program to get hold of the J-1 visa to study in the US. 

Check Out: Sponsors for US Student Visa 

What is an F-1 visa?

An F-1 visa is also a non-immigrant visa issued by the US to those wishing to pursue full-time education within the United States. Therefore, applicants of the F-1 visa are those who wish to attend University, seminary, language training programs, private elementary school or any other academic institution in the US. All applicants must meet eligibility criteria, and English language requirements, in order to possess the F-1 US student visa. 

Suggested: Step by Step Process for F1 Visa Interview 

Important Things to Know about the J-1 Visa

Let us now enlighten you on some of the most important things that you ought to know about the J-1 visa. These major parameters will help you clarify the basic F-1 and J-1 difference. 

These factors given below will help you understand the whole F-1 visa vs J-1 visa concept:

Validity Period

The J-1 visa has a validity period equivalent to the duration of the training/visit. A grace period of 30 days is allowed post the end of the program, to ensure that you end your US visit smoothly. 

Application Procedure

The application procedure to apply for a J1 visa is similar to that of an F1 visa, and is relatively similar. To ensure a smooth application process for the US student visa, it is essential that you have each and every document, and piece of information asked for. 

Declaration of Finances

Finances need to be shown to the university/organisation allowing you to stay during that time period. Declaration of finances for both F-1 and J-1 visa ensure the American government that you, as an international student are backed up financially. A J-1 visa also requires your 51% finances to be covered through another source other than personal/family or friends. 

Visa Application Fee

The US State Department charges a Visa application fee for every applicant. Currently, the fee is 160 USD, however, the fee is subject to change and applicants are advised to check on the US Embassy website prior to their embassy interview for the most up-to-date fee.

Re-Application of J-1 Visa

You can apply for a J1 visa again but there should be a gap of 2 years between the start of your new training period and the end of your old one.

Important Things to Know about the F-1 Visa

The J-1 vs F-1 visa debate is never ending, and therefore it becomes crucial for us to make you aware about some of the key differentiators for the F-1 visa as well. Some major factors which may help us ease the J-1 visa vs F-1 visa discussion have been talked about below: 

Validity Period

The F-1 visa has a validity period equivalent to the duration of the educational program. A grace period of sixty days is allowed post the end of the program, or to let you continue with your optional practical training. 

Application Procedure

To apply for a F-1 visa upon receiving an acceptance letter from your university of choice, you will need to follow the process given below: 

  1. Fill the I-20 form issued to you by the university
    Approach the US Embassy or Consulate in your home country for application of a student visa
  2. Pay the Non-Refundable Application Fee 
  3. Fill Form DS-160, an online form to be submitted while applying
  4. Ensure that the copy of your Passport is submitted and should be valid upto six months beyond your duration of visit
  5. Submit the required number of passport size photographs

Declaration of Finances

F-1 and J-1 visa differ quite a lot under the declaration of finances tab. Unlike the J-1 visa, the F-1 visa can have a source of financial support as personal/family funding entirely. The funds can also be a combination of both personal, and external funding such as a scholarship, or a grant. 

Suggested: How much Funds Should You Show for F1 US Visa 

Visa Application Fee

The US State Department charges a Visa Application fee for every applicant willig to apply for a US student visa. The application fee for an F-1 visa is also 160 USD. 

Re-Application of F-1 Visa

You can apply for a F-1 visa again and there is no such rule about when you should apply.

Related Discussion: Is a Chartered Accountant statement required for F1 Visa process?

Key Differences between J-1 and F-1 Visa

The F-1 J-1 student visa difference can be assessed through various factors and parameters including source of funding, grace period, health insurance, etc. F1 visa, J1 visa, each have their own perks and requirements to be fulfilled. 

Let us move forward to know in detail the major difference between J-1 and F-1 visa through this table given below: 


J-1 Visa 

F-1 Visa 

Source of Funding 

J-1 Visa requires at least 51% of the funding to be external in the form of a scholarship or grant. The rest can be personal or through family 

F-1 visa is flexible with any kind of funding, or a combination of both personal and external funding

Spouses and Children

Spouses and children can apply for a work permit, and can even study full-time or part-time 

Spouses and children in the F-1 visa status are required to change their visa status in order to be eligible for working and full-time studying

On-campus Employment

Limited to 20 hours, and requires prior authorisation

Limited to 20 hours, but requires no prior authorisation 

Off-campus Employment

J-1 applicants can apply for an Academic Training, without any fee, upto 18-36 months 

F-1 applicants can apply for an Optional Practical Training, with a fee, only upto 12 months

Grace Period 

30-days grace period 

60-days grace period 

Health Insurance 

Required for a minimum amount 

Optional but recommended 

How Difficult is it to Get a J-1 and F-1 Visa Approved?

Almost everyone who faces a US consulate officer is curious as to how the interview is going to turn out and will it be enough to clear the bar or will it. Generally, both J-1 and F-1 visas are not very difficult to get approved. There are two key points that determine your chances of approval for J-1 visa vs F-1 visa:

  • Finances: If your finances are sorted and the consulate does not find any discrepancies in your documentation, you are good to go.
  • Profile: Everything in your profile should be crystal clear to the US Consulate Officer for your F1 vs J-1 visa to be approved.

Suggested: Steps to Follow for a F-1 US Student Visa 

How Long Can I Stay in The United States After My Program Ends?

Let us now move on to understand the length of stay for J1 vs F1 visa. For both F1 and J1 visa, you may not arrive more than 30 days before the program start date shown on your DS-2019. Upon completion of your exchange program, you have a grace period of 30 days to depart the US with a J-1 visa.

If you have a visa pertaining to F-1, you have a grace period of 60 days upon completion of your program or course.

Can I Change My Visa Status from J-1 to F-1?

You can change your visa status from J-1 to F-1 if you intend to enrol at an academic institution and become a student full-time. Things to remember here are:

  • Financial Eligibility: As an F-1 visa holder, you will need to show your liquid assets and proof of financial eligibility to pursue an education in the US.
  • Non-immigrant Intention: As an F-1 visa holder, you will need to show proof of your intention to return to your home country upon the completion of your academic course.
  • Change of Status Application: Once you are accepted into a university of your choice, you will be issued an I-20 form to fill. Upon its fulfilment, you can apply for an F-1 visa by submitting an I-539 Application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Long Term Impact of J-1 Visa 

One key F-1 and J-1 visa difference is that the J-1 visa requires a two-year Home Country Residency Requirement if: 

  • Applicants receive funding from the US government or Indian government.
  • The field of study chosen by the applicant is included in the Exchange Visitor’s Skills List under the US government. 

According to this, J-1 visa applicants are required to prove their home country residency or last country of legal permanent residency with a 2 year residence proof.

The J-1 12-Month Bar 

Another F1 and J1 visa difference is that under the J-1 visa status, applicants with a tenure more than 6 months do not qualify for a J-1 Research Scholar Visa until 12 months after the J-1 visa status expires.

Finally, once you have considered all of the above-mentioned details regarding the two most essential visa permits, and understood the F1 vs J1 difference, you can make an informed decision regarding which one suits your situation best. You can even connect with our Yocket Counsellors to know all about the F1 visa vs J1 visa.

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