J1 vs F1 Visa

Table of Contents

Having made up your mind about studying in the USA and moving forward to the US student visa application process, you are now wondering which visa status suits your study requirements the best. This could be a crucial choice as it can impact factors like the duration of your stay, work permits, and more. So, choosing with limited information is never an appropriate option. Here, we will help you dive deeper into the F-1 and J-1 visa comparison so you can make an informed decision and clear all your doubts about the difference between f1 and j1 visas.

What is the J-1 Status Visa? 

Let us first try and understand both of these visa statuses individually. The J-1 visa status best suits those who wish to visit the USA as part of a specific educational exchange program, a cultural exchange program, or some training program. The US government issues the J-1 visa as a non-immigrant visa to research scholars, exchange visitors/students, and professors.

Important Things to Know About the J-1 Visa

Let us now understand a few important aspects of the J- Visa. This shall help clarify the whole F-1 and J-1 difference concept as well. 

Funding Source 

To be eligible for the J-1 visa status, you must source more than 50% of your funding for education in the USA from a source besides personal funds. This could include sponsorship from your employer, a government program, or the private sector. Common examples of such sources include scholarships, fellowships, research funding, the corporate sector, grants, assistantships, or funding from the government. This point is a major difference in the F-1 visa vs J-1 visa concept. 

J-1 Status Visa Validity Period

The validity of the J-1 visa is the same as the duration of the student’s training/visit. However, a grace period of 30 days is granted to the student so he can end his US visit smoothly. 

J-1 Visa Application Procedure

The application procedure for the J-1 visa is not very difficult and only demands that the student has every document readily available. This ensures a smooth application for every US student visa, including F-1 and J-1 visa. 

J-1 Visa Application Fee

J-1 visa application fee is $185. However, for students participating in official US government-sponsored cultural exchange programs, this fee is NIL. Both these numbers are subject to change and a student is advised to check the US Embassy website for up-to-date information. 

Re-application of J-1 Visa

A student is allowed to apply for a J-1 visa again on one condition. There needs to be a gap of 2 years between the student’s old training program’s end date and the new training program’s start date. 

What is the F-1 Visa Status?

While the US government also issues the F-1 visa as a non-immigrant visa, it is much simpler compared to the J-1 visa and its requirements. Anyone who wishes to pursue full-time education in the USA can be granted F-1 visa status. Hence, the F-1 US student visa status is issued to those who attend university, private elementary school, language training program, or seminary in the USA.

Important Things to Know About the F-1 Visa

To understand the concept of J-1 vs F-1 visa, it is essential that you understand both J-1 and F-1 visa in detail. Now, we are going to understand a few important aspects of the F-1 visa, which might prove to be a significant contribution to the J-1 visa vs F-1 visa discussion. 

Funding Source 

The F-1 and J-1 visa are quite different when compared for this particular aspect. The F-1 Visa can be issued to a student with funding from any source whatsoever in any proportion, unlike the funding source requirements of the J-1 Visa.

F-1 Visa Validity Period 

F-1 Visa validity period is the same as the duration of the student’s educational program. However, in the case of an F-1 visa, a grace period of 60 days is allowed since significant life in the USA comes to an end for students.

F-1 Visa Application Procedure 

The application procedure for F-1 and J-1 visa is quite the same and easy. You need to follow a few steps that include filling the I-20 form issued by the university, paying the application fee of $185 (subject to change), filling the DS-160 form, submitting the copy of your passport, and submitting the passport size photographs. The application process here is the same for the J-1 visa too. 

F-1 Visa Application Fee 

As mentioned above, the F-1 visa application fee as per the official sources is $180. However, one must always refer to the official website to confirm the same for any US student visa. 

Re-application of F-1 Visa 

There is no specific rule for the waiting period before one reapplies for the F-1 visa.  

Major Difference Between F1 and J1 Visa 

Now that we have discussed both the F-1 and J-1 Visa individually in detail, let us try and understand the F-1 J-1 student visa difference through multiple factors and parameters listed below. 

Let us get to discussing the key differences between J-1 and F-1 visa now: 

ParameterJ-1 Visa F-1 Visa
Funding SourceAt least 51% funding for the J-1 visa applicant must be external and not from personal funds. For F-1 visa, student can source funding from any source. 
FamilyIn case the J-1 visa applicant is in the USA, the spouse and children can apply for both work permit and even full-time education In the case of an F-1 visa applicant, the spouse and children must change their visa status to work or study in the USA. 
On-Campus and Off-Campus Employment On-campus employment for a J-1 status visa applicant is limited to 20 hours and requires prior approval. However, J-1 visa applicants can not apply for off-campus employment but off-campus academic training up to 18-36 months. 

F-1 visa applicants are also allowed on-campus employment up to 20 hours, requiring no authorization. However, to avail practical training off-campus for up to 12 months, F-1 visa applicants must pay a fee. 

Grace Period 

Upon completing their program, J-1 visa applicants receive a grace period of 30 days.

Comparatively, F-1 visa applicants receive more time, specifically a 60-day grace period after completing their full-time program.
Health Insurance J-1 visa applicants must necessarily avail health insurance for a minimum amount as stated by the US government.F-1 visa applicants, on the other hand, do not require health insurance but can get one, if needed.  

Is it Difficult to Get an F-1 and J-1 Visa Approval? 

A major step to getting your J-1 and F-1 Visa approval is to face the US consulate officer for your visa interview. People often wonder if this interview is enough to get them the J1 status visa or an F1 visa. Generally, authorities approve both these visas quite easily. However, there are two main aspects that can significantly impact the chances of your J-1 and F-1 visa approval: 

  • Finances: If the consulate believes your funding and finances are sorted along with the documentation, you will be good to go. 
  • Profile: One thing very important for your F1 vs J1 visa approval is the clarity of your profile. You should not confuse the consulate about any point in your profile.

How Long Am I Allowed to Stay in the USA After My Program? 

This is to give you a clear understanding of the length of stay for J1 vs F1 visa. Please remember that you shall not arrive in the USA any earlier than 30 days before the start of your program as stated by the date in the DS-2019. This is applicable to both the F1 and J1 visa. 

In case you have a J1 status visa, you can not be in the USA for more than 30 days upon the completion of your program. For an F1 visa, the period extends up to 60 days.

Can I Change My Visa from J1 Status to F1? 

Yes, it is possible to shift from J1 to F1 in case you are planning to study full-time. Remember the following in this case: 

  • Non-immigrant Intention- For a change, you will have to provide relevant proof of intention to return home upon the completion of your F1 visa study program. 
  • Financial Eligibility- Every F1 visa holder must provide sufficient proof of liquid assets and financial eligibility to study in the USA. 
  • Change of Visa Status Application- When your desired university approves your application, you will receive an I-20 form from them. After the government approves your submission, you can apply for an F1 visa, submitting an I-539 to the USCIS.

The Bottom Line 

We have finally gone through all the necessary pointers of the difference between f1 and j1 Visa. You can now make an informed choice between the F1 or J1 visa based on their suitability to your profile. For more details, contact the VIS counselors to understand F1 and J1 visas further.

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