In this article, I’ll be explaining how you can apply for the popular USA Student Visa – J-1 Exchange Visa – in Nigeria.
How can I apply for a J-1 Visa?
Get a sponsor first. The official J-1 visa website has a list of designated sponsors. You can sort the sponsors by visa category. Each sponsor has a unique screening method.
Following approval by a sponsor, you can enroll for the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Your sponsor can also assist you apply for a visa. Fill out and submit Form DS-160, the US online nonimmigrant visa application form.
To finish the form, just fill in the blanks and submit your passport photo. The form will inform you about your sponsor and program. It will also state the program’s start and conclusion dates, as well as the cost.
Trainee applicants must complete Form DS-7002. The form outlines your training or internship duties. Online form DS-7002 When finished, print the confirmation paper. Then you must pay your fees.
How much is a USA student visa in Nigeria?
Your J-1 Student visa application will not be processed until your payments are paid. Fees include:
- SEVIS Fee: $180
- Form DS-160 Filing Fee: $160
If the US embassy grants your visa, you may be charged a cost. It depends on where you live. Your sponsor can sometimes cover your SEVIS cost. It’s vital to confirm so you don’t pay twice. If so, ask for a payment receipt.
You won’t pay the J-1 visa application fee if your program is financed by the US Government, State Department, or USAID. No issuing costs either.
What are the required documents for a US student visa?
The following documents are required for your J-1 visa interview:
- Passport valid for at least six months beyond your stay
- Form DS-160 confirmation
- Payment receipt DS-160
- Passport photographs
- SEVIS DS-7002 confirmation page for Trainee applicants
- Financial proof. This shows you or someone else can handle your US financial obligations.
- Proof you’ll depart the US after your program ends. It could be familial ties, investments, or property you can’t leave behind.
- Proof of your trip purpose
- Proof of previous work
The consulate official may ask for more documentation. Consult the US embassy for the required documentation for your J-1 visa category.
US Student Visa Interview
The interview will be held at the US embassy where you apply. Soon after scheduling your interview, you’ll be notified.
A consulate officer will interrogate you about your student visa program, your intent, and plans. Most of this data is already in your forms. So you must submit responses that match your forms.
During your interview, you may be asked to provide biometric data. In some circumstances, administrative processing is required. This is useful if your application needs data from external sources. Your situation will decide the administrative processing time.
If the consulate authorizes your visa, you can pay the visa fee. You’ll also get a medical checkup and vaccinations as needed.
How long does a US student visa application take?
The processing period for your student visa varies. In Nigeria, it can take from 14 days to a year. These wait times fluctuate greatly. The embassy’s workload and staffing affect wait times.
A student visa application is best made early. Also, schedule an appointment with an embassy in a big city like Lagos. Application processing can be accelerated in some instances. Notable exceptions include school or program start dates. You must produce proof.
J-1 Student Visa Physical Presence Requirement for 2 Years
Some J-1 visa categories require two years of residence in the home country. Among them:
- Category of graduate medical education
- Knowledge or skill category
- Government-sponsored exchange program
This condition requires you to return home for two years. You may not be able to alter your status to another nonimmigrant work visa, such as an H-1B or L-1. You will also be denied permanent residency.
The two-year visit time need not be consecutive; it might be cumulative. That is, you can visit your native nation for 24 months (2 years) at different times. The two year home visit requirement may be dropped in several cases.
Any current endeavor in the US that may be hampered if you return home may be eligible for a waiver. If the DHS approves your waiver, your restrictions will be lifted.
In the following cases, the home residence criterion can be waived:
- A letter from your home country’s government saying that you have been granted permission to remain in the US.
- If you can show that your presence in the US is essential to support a US citizen or legal permanent residence.
- Persecuted in your home country because of your ethnicity or religious beliefs.
What if I want to extend my stay?
Depending on your category, you can extend your student visa. You have to fill up and submit a new Form DS-190. This new application draws a $367 charge. Furthermore, you must also offer proof why the extension is necessary.
If your student visa expires, you can still stay in the US for 30 days before departure; The Grace Period. Because you are no longer on a student visa, you cannot participate in the program you came for. The grace period allows you to organize and finalize any last-minute details.
Can student visa holders work in America?
If your program allows it, you can work in the US with a student visa. Each J-1 exchange program category has its own criteria, and you can only do what the program allows.
How long is a student visa valid?
You can stay as long as your visa allows, which varies per program. After the initial J-1 status expires, certain visa holders may request for an extension. After the maximum duration, you have only 30 days to leave the US. Failure to depart within the stipulated time frame will result in out-of-status status, which may result in deportation and future immigration benefits.