How to Prepare for Your J-1 Embassy Interview
Your interview with the U.S. Embassy in your country is one of the last hurdles that you have to conquer before you secure your J-1 Visa and can begin your journey.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong — including not having the right paperwork, having invalid paperwork, or even simply not meeting the Embassy’s qualifications for the J-1 program.
We help hundreds of aspiring young hospitality professionals pass their interviews every year. We know exactly what will be required of you and how to set yourself up for success. Some of our best advice is included in this article, so keep reading and get prepared!
J-1 Embassy Interview: What Can You Do to Prepare
If you want to participate in the J-1, then you have to secure a J-1 Visa. The decision to award you a visa rests solely with the embassy officer. The officer will take a lot of factors into consideration and there are many things that can increase your chances of denial.
Here’s what you need to know to help you go in prepared.
You Need to Understand the Visa Qualifications
The first crucial step in preparing for your embassy interview is to make sure that you understand the qualifications.
1. You should have strong ties to your home country.
The interviewing embassy officer will want to make sure that you’re likely to return home after your J-1 program ends. This will include things such as having strong family ties, not having family in the U.S., or having plans to continue your career when you return home.
2. Be prepared to disclose previous trips to the U.S.
You must be open and honest with the embassy officer about any previous visa applications or visits to the U.S. Be clear and brief in your answers.
3. You Have Documentation that is Required for Your Interview
You will have quite a few documents that you will need to bring to your interview. We recommend that you make an extra copy of all the documents for your personal record keeping and keeping them at home.
The original documents that you will need to bring with you include:
- DS-2019 form or Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status
- DS-7002 signed training plan.
- A passport that is valid for at least 3 to 6 months beyond the end date on your DS-2019.
- DS-160 form or Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- DS-160 Embassy Application Receipt / Proof of Payment
- Two U.S.-sized passport photos — refer to your embassy website for instructions on all photos.
- SEVIS I-901 Receipt
- HPUSA Support Letter (if you’re in our applicant program)
- Sponsor Support Letter
- Proof of Address and Property Ownership (cars, land, houses, etc that are in your name or your family’s name)
- School documents that confirm current enrollment or successful graduation.
- Previous U.S. DS-2019 or U.S. Visa
- Any additional documents that may be required by your specific embassy office.
Additionally, there are some other documents that you can provide that will show strong ties to your home country and show how this training program will benefit your career.
- Bank account statements in your name or your family’s name that show your financial stability, ability to return home, and that you have sufficient funds to participate in your training program.
- Evidence of ownership of property like vehicles and real estate.
- Evidence of a family business that you may be taking over when you return.
- Ties to community organizations in your home country — such as religious organizations, non-profits that you support, or other groups that you belong to.
- A loved one, husband, boy/girlfriend that will stay behind in your home country and proof that you wouldn’t leave them behind.
If you have close relatives in the USA for any reason, if you’ve worked outside of your country for an extended amount of time, or if you’ve previously been denied for a US visa, then we suggest that you take a letter of future employment as well. This letter should be on hotel letterhead and show that you have a future career waiting for you at home.
Be Calm and Mindful of Your Phrasing
The embassy officer wants to make sure that you understand the program requirements. Try to stay calm as you answer their questions, and carefully consider the wording in your response.
Here are a few things you should keep in mind.
- The J-1 Program is not a work or immigrant visa — its purpose is for training only. When you talk about the program, refer to it as training and not work.
- Since the intent is training and acquiring new skills, you need to be prepared to convince the consulate officer that your J-1 training will allow you to acquire skills that are different from the ones that you can get in your home country.
- Be prepared to explain how the experience will benefit your career — we recommend that you talk about your desire to gain cultural experience in the U.S. and hands-on experience in the American hospitality industry.
- Be agreeable and personable — do not argue with the consulate officer, and avoid showing arrogance, disinterest, or boredom.
Use Your Training Plan for Inspiration
If you’re working with HPUSA to help you get prepared, we’ll be creating a training plan for you. This training plan will talk about the types of positions that you’ll be training in, the activities that you’ll perform, and which skills you’ll be developing.
This information will help you answer questions such as:
- What will you do during your training in the U.S.?
- Why do you want to go to the U.S. for training?
- What do you expect to get out of your training?
- Why is this training important to you?
- Do you have a training plan with you?
- Who is your sponsor organization?
- What is your host company?
Be sure to avoid vague answers like “I will do whatever my host company wants,” and one-word answers like “yes” or “no.”
Take the Time to Get Prepared
If you’ve learned one thing from this article, we hope it’s the importance of being prepared. You need to plan ahead what your answers will be to the embassy officer’s questions and bring all of the documentation that you need.
To help you get prepared, we’ve compiled a guide and checklist into one easily accessible PDF that you can download by clicking below.