Are you looking for United States visa?

Student exchange to USA: tips for joining a program

by Juan José Herranz | March 4, 2021
Girl on a Student Exchange in the United States

The USA is one of the top countries in the world for student exchange programs. As a pioneer in high-quality education that exposes students to a plethora of employment opportunities, the USA attracts a large number of students every year through its student exchange programs. For many, it’s not only a massive leap in their educational path but also an important milestone in their life.

What is a Student Exchange Program?

A student exchange program is an opportunity for secondary school or college students to continue their studies in a foreign country for a predefined period. The student travels abroad to study in a foreign university usually affiliated with the local educational institution they are part of and attends classes/courses to continue the academic activities they were pursuing in their own country.

A student exchange to USA is enabled to foreign visitors via a special non-immigrant visa. Students who go through this program usually stay with a host family or at a private accommodation of their choice during the program.  

For many, a student exchange program in one of the reputed universities in the USA can be a life-changing experience. In addition to the educational value, you get exposed to the American culture and have an opportunity of getting to know its people as well.

However, applying for a student exchange program USA in 2021 and arranging necessary documents can be a complicated and tedious task if you don’t know the right procedure. Here’s a guide to help you with it!

library United States universities

Research about joining a student exchange to USA

The first step is to find out a suitable student exchange to USA that aligns with your academic interests. One of the prerequisites for student exchange programs is that you should be a student or graduate pursuing studies at one of the educational institutions in your country.

Sometimes, your local school or university would be affiliated with a US educational institute providing exchange programs for qualified students. Otherwise, you can also look for US student exchange programs funded by your local government.

There are also scholarships provided by government or non-governmental institutions for foreign students to come and study in the USA. If you qualify for such a student exchange program, all or part of the cost will be covered.

Apply for the university you pick for the student exchange to USA

Once you have figured out the field of study, time period of the program and the universities, you can begin to apply there. If you are going through your local educational institution, they will help you with the process. Otherwise, you would have to contact the university or visit their website and learn about the criteria for student exchange programs and determine if you qualify. Then, submit an application for each university you have selected.

Other requirements to qualify for a student exchange to USA

In addition to being eligible for the university’s standards and requirements, you also have to fulfill their English language and insurance requirements. Non-native English speakers might have to prove their proficiency in the language through a test recognized by the university such as TOEFL or show another approved certification.

You would also have to bear the cost of health insurance during the period of stay. Your health insurance coverage is mandatory, and it’s possible to sign up for the health plan provided by the university or get it from a private service provider.

Mount Rushmore in South Dakota United States

Apply for a visa for the student exchange to USA

Once you have received the acceptance letter from the university you picked for the student exchange to USA, it’s time to pay attention to the entry requirements for USA. The university will provide you the DS-2019 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor J-1 Status), specifying that you have been accepted. 

Afterward, you have to apply for a visa USA. The specific visa offered to exchange students is known as J-1. You have to obtain it by filling the DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application) form and paying the relevant fee for it. Make sure you have hard copies of the form and receipt of payment.

Face the interview successfully

Once applied, you will have to attend an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in your country. You have to pay a SEVIS fee before the interview as well.

It’s important to take all the relevant documents that will help you face the interview successfully. This includes:

  • The printed copy of the DS-2019 form provided by the relevant US university.
  • A printed photograph of you (if requested).
  • The printed copy of DS-160, along with the receipt of payment.
  • A passport that’s valid to travel to the USA.
  • The receipt of the SEVIS fee.

Optional documents that state the following may also be necessary:

  • Your ability to cover the travel cost.
  • Your ability to cover the expenses in the USA.
  • The purpose of the visit and the intention to depart from the USA once the program is over.

If the interview is successful and the officer is satisfied, you will be able to obtain your J-1 visa and begin your student exchange program in USA as soon as possible!

Student exchange to USA in New York

Other details about doing a student exchange to USA

  • It is best not to make any travel arrangements or buy tickets until you receive the visa as there’s a chance for it to be rejected.
  • If you are hoping to work while studying in the USA, it’s important to remember a few things. You can be employed in a part-time job with the permission of the university. Generally, exchange students must be employed on the campus’s site but can be granted special provisions to work outside under different circumstances.
  • You can arrive a month ahead of the program initiation date and stay a month after it ends with your J-1 visa.
  • If you receive an employment opportunity, you can change your travel status and extend your stay.
  • Even if your passport expires, you can still stay with your valid US visa.

We can help you!

As a pioneer in visa processing, Visagov can help you obtain a visa for your student exchange program. Our expert team will guide you throughout the process, educating you on the necessary documents, information, and prerequisites necessary to qualify for student exchange programs.

Even if you are completely new to this area, but interested in studying abroad, you can contact us for further details and clarifications.