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Basic Requirements To Become An International Teacher In The USA?

30 Oct 2023By Team J1X

Becoming an international teacher in the US is surely a great way to take your teaching career to the next level. If you’re a non-US citizen and want to teach in the United States, you can use the J-1 teacher visa program that allows you to come to the US and pursue your career as a teacher or educator. 

The J-1 visa is a common US exchange program that allows teachers, professors, students, and other professionals to visit the US and perform their duties. Since we’re talking about teacher visas, it’s essential to determine whether or not qualified to serve in the US as a teacher. 

In this article, we’ll try to cover everything you need to know about international teacher visa, it’s processes, and major requirements. Let’s get started with defining what a teacher visa is and how it allows you to get a teaching job in the country. 

What is a J-1 Teacher Visa? 

The J-1 teacher visa is a nonimmigrant cultural exchange allotted to teachers who meet a certain set of requirements. If you’re serving as a teacher in your country and have the qualification to do so, you probably have the opportunity to apply for the J-1 teacher program. You can teach in accredited primary and secondary schools in the US for up to 3 years with the possibility of a one or two years extension. 

At the end of your program, you return to your country with newly developed skills and a deep understanding of the US hosting communities. Your teaching experience at a US-based school will help you bring about positive changes to your country’s educational landscape. You may be eligible to repeat the program provided you have resided outside the US for 2 years and met other requirements. 

Let’s take a comprehensive look at things that qualify you to get a teacher visa. 

Basic Requirements for a J-1 International Teacher Visa 

Determining your eligibility is probably the first thing you need to figure out before applying for a visa. To be eligible for a J-1 teacher visa, you have to meet the following requirements: 

  • First of all, you have met the qualifications for teaching in primary or secondary school in your country. 
  • You must possess sufficient English language proficiency, so you communicate with US students without any language-related barriers. 
  • You’re a non-US citizen. 
  • You must work as a teacher in your legal residence or home country at the time you want to submit the visa application. If you’re not working as a teacher currently, you need to complete an advanced degree or have at least 2 years of full-time teaching experience in the past eight years. 
  • You must have a degree equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree in the subject you want to teach. 
  • Your professional teaching experience must meet the standards of the US state in which you want to serve a school. 
  • You must not be involved in any criminal activities or anything that makes your reputation and character questionable. 
  • You must enter the US for the sole purpose of teaching full-time at a primary or secondary school. 

So, do you meet all of these requirements? If yes, it’s time to move forward and learn more about the teacher visa.

Related: Top Challenges Faced by J-1 Teacher Visa Holders And Aspirants

Key Documents Required For J-1 Teacher Visa 

Before we talk about the application steps for a J-1 visa, let’s see what forms and documents you need to submit during the application process. DS-2019 is the main form you need to submit to apply for a teacher visa along with the sponsorship letter, which verifies your ability before the US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

Before submitting the D-2019 form and sponsorship letters, you need an employment offer from an accredited US primary or secondary school. The J-1 visa for teachers only covers the school that you mentioned on your DS-2019. You can’t work for or earn from any other teaching job. Let’s enlist the documents you need to produce or process during the application process: 

  • DS-2019 
  • Sponsorship letters 
  • Offer letter from a listed school
  • DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application
  • Valid passport 
  • Recent photographs 

Benefits Of Teaching in the US 

Working in the US has been a dream for millions of people around the globe. International teachers come to the US and gain highly valuable teaching experience. You not only develop new teaching skills but also understand the dynamics of working in a different culture. Teaching diverse groups of students certainly enriches your teaching experience. 

As a teacher, you must consider this an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the US teaching methods. The US students also get a chance to promote cultural exchange develop a broader perspective and work with new ideas and ways of learning. 

So, one of the leading benefits you get from a teaching job in the US is career development and personal experience. Not to mention the opportunity to meet new people and visit new places. 

Application Process 

If a teacher exchange program has sponsored you, you can qualify for the J-1 visa for teachers under the Teacher Exchange Program. The Department of State designates the public and private institutes to act as exchange sponsors. A J-1 Visa Sponsor is supposed to screen and select qualified foreign teachers and supervise their stay in the country to make sure they do the intended job. 

When you apply for the visa, your sponsor will be the main point of contact throughout the application process. This means you can reach out to your sponsoring entity if you need help. Educational institutes sponsor directly in case of J-1 visa for professors and research scholars. 

Applying for a US visa involves a considerably lengthy process. When applying for a teacher visa in the US, you have to go through the following steps: 

Find a sponsor 

As mentioned earlier, the first step is to locate a sponsor for your visa. In other words, get accepted by a J-1 sponsoring organization in the US. The sponsor will determine your basic eligibility and confirm your English language skills. 

Submit DS-2019 

DS-2019 form is also called the “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. You need to submit a completed DS-2019 in order to schedule an interview with a US consulate or embassy in your home country. Your sponsor will provide you with a DS-2019 form. All you have to do is fill it out to the best of your knowledge. 

Pay fees 

You have to pay the application fees along with your DS-2019 submission. These fees include SEVIS 1-901 ($180) and the Nonimmigrant Visa Application Processing fee ($160). Some applicants participating through US government-funded exchange programs are exempted from the Nonimmigrant Visa Application processing fee. 

Schedule and attend the interview 

The final step is to get approved and interviewed by an immigration officer at a U embassy or consulate in your country. Your interview is one of the crucial parts of your application process. The interviewee may ask questions about the program, your teaching experience, and your personal background. 

Make sure to gather all the required documents before appearing for the interview. Remember, J-1 is a nonimmigrant visa for teachers. You have to show evidence that you will return to your home country after you complete your visit.

Related: Popular J-1 Visa Interview Questions: How To Answer Them

Final Thoughts 

For international teachers dreaming of making a positive impact in American classrooms, the journey may seem challenging. However, this is where J1 Visa Exchanges can make things easier for you. As an approved J1visa sponsor, we understand the unique challenges and opportunities that international educators face. 

With our expertise in J-1 Visa programs and our commitment to your success, we simplify the path to teaching in the United States. From navigating visa requirements to connecting you with schools that match your qualifications, we’re here to support your teaching adventure and help you create a brighter future for your students. Feel free to contact us and let us make your dream of teaching in the U.S. a reality. Your classroom is waiting, and so are we.

Team J1X

Team J1X

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