Skip to content

Jamaican: Let's Travel

Home » Teach in the US on a J1 Visa

Teach in the US on a J1 Visa

This post is the first a series on teaching in the US with a J1 visa.

photo showing a list of J1 visa categories one of which is to teach in the usHave you ever wondered about teaching in the US school system? One legal way of doing so as a non-US citizen is with the J1 teacher exchange visitor visa. The J1 program issues non-immigrant visas for teachers, camp counselors and college students among other categories. This visa allows participants to live in the US for the duration of their program. For teachers, the initial visa is 3 years, and you can extend for 2 additional years.  It is an excellent way to gain experience working in the US education system and it is what I used to enhance my resume for other international teaching positions.  

Steps to the J1 Visa for Teaching in the US

Your first step is to find a sponsor company from the designated sponsor list the US State Department provides. Different companies have the authorization to operate in different states, so think about this when selecting a company.  Also some companies will solely recruit for certain roles, for example elementary roles or the sciences. I used Educational Partners International (EPI), which sponsors teachers for school districts in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and recently Florida. This post will show the process I went through with EPI, however, it is mostly standard and will closely resemble all J1 sponsor companies. 

Requirements for Teaching in the US

To be eligible for the J1 visa, you need to:

  • Not have US citizenship or a Green card 
  • Be visiting the US solely for teaching at a primary, middle or high school school full-time
  • Have over two years teaching experience within the last eight years
  • A Bachelor’s Degree in Education or in your specific area that is equivalent to a US 4-year Bachelor’s Degree
  • Be Fluent in English

Application Process with the Sponsor Company for Teaching in the US

Subject areas ypu can teach in the US on a J1

After deciding on a sponsor company, you will fill out their application form. The company uses the application as a screener and once you meet the requirements above, you will move on to the next stage. With EPI, I filled out my:
  • Personal Information – which included my contact information, passport info and pages and profile photo.
  • Family Information – marital status, dependents (if any) information and information on any relatives you might have in the US.
  • Education History – copies of diplomas/transcripts, teaching licenses, credential evaluation. The credential evaluation happens during the process of gathering all your information, so it is not needed before completing the initial evaluation.
  • Teaching History – as the name implies you will list all relevant teaching jobs. However, you will have to show proof!! Only a letter from your school/Ministry of Education on official letterhead will do. When I applied in 2016, they also accepted pay stubs, but not any more. Contact information for two references, which of course have to be your supervisors.
  • Assets & Legal Documents – Driver’s license info, Social Security number and card (if you have one), bank statements, criminal history including your criminal record check, evidence of home ties. Finally travel history and any possible issues you had with US immigration.

Fees Associated with the J1 Sponsor Company Application

Sponsor companies are not supposed to charge you fees!!! If they do, maybe they are an agency working to supply teachers to the designated sponsor companies. There are fees associated, however, none that you will pay to a J1 company. The fees you will have to pay during the application process are:

  1. The cost of getting your criminal record.
  2. Cost to request transcripts from your university.
  3. The cost to have your degrees evaluated. Please wait to hear from your company about the type of evaluation needed before proceeding. EPI gave the names of the companies approved by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES), that they have a working relationship with. The credential evaluation can cost between U$ 150 – 260.
The Next Steps

Once approved by the sponsor company, the real work begins! It is an ongoing process that takes time, so apply with your desired start date in mind. Approval means placement in a candidate pool where schools and districts will have the opportunity to review your profile. Please note, however, that approval does not automatically mean you will have a job. You will need to be selected for an interview with the school/district. They will then contact your sponsor company if they are interested in moving forward with you. Once offered a contract, you will have additional tasks to complete. I will discuss these tasks and more in the next post in this series.

Subscribe or follow me on social media for notifications on when the next post in this series gets published. 


1 thought on “Teach in the US on a J1 Visa”

  1. Pingback: J1 Visa for Teachers: From Interview to Arrival

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *