F-1 Visa vs. J-1 Visa

F-1 Visa vs. J-1 Visa

One of the frequently asked questions that we get here at Optimus Language School is “Should I apply for an F-1 visa or a J-1 visa? What is the difference?” To answer it simply, the main difference is that F-1 visas are usually for students that want to acquire a college degree / learn English from the United States and hope to stay for work and J-1 visas are usually for students who want to attend an exchange program or even gain knowledge in a specialized area of study.


Students who wish to study in the United States and pursue their education with an F-1 visa status must be able to show proof that they are financially sufficient since they have a limited amount of opportunities for work. F1 visa students that have children and or a spouse that will be joining them in the United States must apply for an F2 visa. To apply for an F-2 visa, students will need to ask the school’s office for a new I-20 form for the dependent(s). Students will be asked to provide documentation (marriage certificate, birth certificate, notarized certification, etc.) confirming the relationship between the student and dependent. After receiving a new I-20 form, the F-2 visa application protocol is very similar to that of F-1 visa.


J-1 visas allow students to participate in exchange programs that further cultural exchange as well as to garner in specialized fields like medical training or business practice. To qualify for this visa status, the student must be sponsored by a private organization or a governmental program. Students with the J-1 visa status can only stay in the United States for the duration of their exchange program.


Published on October 9, 2017

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