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

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Yocket Editorial Team

Updated on Oct 7, 2021

Student VISA | 7 min read
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Pursuing higher education in the US is a dream for many but maneuvering through the complicated process of visa applications, meeting eligibility criteria, and taking charge of finances can seem daunting and even worse, intimidating.

If you are wondering what the difference is between a J-1 visa and F-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.

What is a J-1 visa?

A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States 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.

What is a F-1 visa?

A F-1 visa is also a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States 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 program, private elementary school or any other academic institution in the US. All applicants must meet eligibility criteria, and English language requirements.

What Are Some Important Points to Remember About the J-1 Visa?

  1. 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.

  1. Application Procedure:

The procedure to apply for a J1 visa is similar to that of an F1 visa.

  1. Declaration of Finances:

Finances need to be shown to the university/organization allowing you to stay during that time period.

  1. Visa Application Fee:

The US State Department charges a Visa application fee for every applicant. Currently, the fee is $160, 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.

  1. 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.

What Are Some Important Points to Remember About the F-1 Visa?

  1. 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.

  1. Application Procedure:

To apply for a F-1 visa upon receiving an acceptance letter from your University of choice, you will need to do the following:

  1. Fill the I-20 form issued to you by the University.

  2. Approach the US Embassy or Consulate in your home country for application of a student visa.

  3. Pay the Non-Refundable Application Fee while applying for the visa.

  4. Fill Form DS-160, an online form to be submitted while applying.

  5. Copy of Passport valid upto six months beyond your duration of visit.

  6. Required number of photos.

  7. Declaration of Finances:

Finances need to be shown to the university/organization allowing you to stay during that time period.

  1.  Visa Application Fee:

The US State Department charges a Visa Application fee for every applicant. Currently, the fee is $160, 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.

  1.  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.

Key Differences for J-1 vs F-1 Visa

  1. Funding:

The difference between an F1 and a J1 student visa in terms of funding is that a J1 visa requires a large or “substantive” portion of the funding to come from an outside source, such as a university or the government. 50% of the financial support needs to come from outside family/personal savings.

  1. Ability to Work:

One of the major differences between J1 and F1 visas regarding work status is that in J1 visa most institutions allow students to work only inside the campus and only some allow to work off-campus too. Whereas, with an F1 visa you can work outside campus too but only after your 1st year of studies.

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, the J-1 and F-1 visa is not very difficult to get approved. There are two key points that determine your chances of approval:

  1. Finances

 If your finances are sorted and they don’t find any discrepancies in your documentation, you are good to go.

  1. Clarity in the Profile:

Everything in your profile should be crystal clear to the US Consulate Officer for your J-1 visa to be approved.

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

For J-1 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 United States.

For an F-1 Visa:

You may not arrive in the United States 30 days before the start of the program and upon completion, you have a grace period of 60 days.

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 enroll at an academic institution and become a student full-time. Things to remember here are:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Change of Status Application:

Once you are accepted into a university of your choice, you will be issued a I-20 form to fill. Upon its fulfillment, you can apply for an F-1 visa by submitting an I-539 Application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Finally, once you have considered all of the above-mentioned details regarding the two most essential visa permits, you can make an informed decision regarding which one suits your situation best.

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