In some circumstance you may be requested to send in paperwork to the US embassy via their Courier service.

This would normally be in cases where:

  • You have forgotten to take some of your required documents to embassy
  • You have been asked for additional documentation to support your application
  • You are applying to extend a present J1 Visa
  • You are planning got travel to another country soon after your embassy interview BEFORE you travel to the USA**
**We strongly advise against planning any travel to another country until you have received your passport and visa back from the US embassy. If possible you should delay your embassy interview until AFTER you have been on holiday/ travelled elsewhere.

You should allow up to 2 weeks for transport of your passport to embassy, processing of your documentation and return via courier to your local hob (or home address if you have specifically requested and paid for this via the courier).

As such you should NOT book any flights until you have received your passport and visa back from the Embassy.

If this process will delay your arrival in the USA you must let us know immediately as we may be required to amend dates and documentation fro you in US Government system.

The will be a charge for this of at least £65.

Please note: We are unable to advise or update on any processes within the embassy or courier services.

When should you book your flights?

In line with US Department of State and local embassy recommendations we advise against booking your flights until you have received your passport and visa back from the US Embassy.
We recognise that many participants choose to book flights before they have been approved but please note should you do this we can accept no responsibility for any costs incurred should you be required to change these.

US Embassy Interviews

*Please note this information relates to interviews booked at either the US Embassy in London or the US Consulate General in Belfast. If you are planning on attending an interview in a different country please refer to the local instructions for your location embassy.
You can see a full list of websites of U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions at

**Wait times for interviews can be much longer in the run up to the summer so please make sure you book your interview as soon as possible after receiving your paperwork **

Once you have received all your legal documentation from us (including your DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility ) you can go ahead and book your face to face interview at the USA Embassy.

Remember - you can't book your face to face interview until you have your DS-2019# (also known as a SEVIS ID) - and you can't get this number until you have been approved by CIEE and received your documents back.

Please note the US Embassy charges $160 US for visa interviews (approx £100).
These fees are separate to your programme fees and must be paid direct to the US Embassy at the time of booking your face to face interview

What happens to my DS-160 if I select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate where I will be applying for my visa, but end up making an interview appointment instead at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate?
The Embassy or Consulate at which you actually apply should be able to access your form using the barcode on your DS-160 confirmation page, which you must bring to the visa interview.
In order to apply at the embassy for your J1 Visa you will need to take:
  • Your DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility (this is in the pack we send you with your legal paperwork once you have been approved)
  • Your Validated DS-7002 Training Plan (also in your pack. Interns, Graduate Interns and PCT applicants only)
  • Your Passport
  • Your DS-160 Confirmation print out
  • Your I-901 SEVIS receipt print out (this is in the pack we send you)
  • Your Embassy appointment letter
  • Any other documents that may be useful to an embassy officer when assessing your Visa application

If you have lost or damaged any of your documents please let us know immediately as you must have these when you attend your face to face interview

Booking the Interview

You must have a DS-2019 with a date in the future in order to attend an interview at the US Embassy. If you have not received your DS-2019 Certificate at least 2 days before your interview you will need to contact the embassy to reschedule.
In some cases we may need to order a new DS-2019 Certificate for you. If you are scheduled to attend an interview and have not yet received your paperwork (or need new paperwork with new dates) it is VITAL you email to request this. Please note it will take at least 3 working days to receive new paperwork from the USA (sometimes more if an agreement on new dates is needed from your Host Company).
Please DO NOT CALL as our team will be unable to assist you over the phone.

Step 1: Go online and complete your DS-160. This can be found at Remember you are a J1 Exchange Visitor when choosing certain options! You will need to complete the DS-160 (see here for full info on this) and upload a digital photograph of yourself before you can move to Step 2.
*Please note we are unable to assist with completing the DS-160. Please follow the guidance below

What's my Programme number?

  • For Summer Work and Travel USA this is: P-3-04320
  • For Internship USA this is: P-3-05133
  • For Graduate Internship USA this is: P-3-05133
  • For Professional Career Training USA this is P-3-11217
  • For Summer Camp USA this is P-3-14839

Step 2: Go to or click on the button below

**PLEASE NOTE ONLY RESIDENTS OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND MAY APPLY FOR AN INTERVIEW AT THE DUBLIN EMBASSY** If you are based in the UK you must apply for either London or Belfast. If you are attending an interview in any other country or city please refer to your local embassy for guidance.

After creating your account, please follow the process and guidance for each of the steps

1. Provide your DS‐160 number (see Step 1).
2. Determine your visa type (J1)
3. Select a courier return location – read the options carefully as an additional fee may be charged
4. Pay your U.S. visa fee via debit card (Visa or Mastercard) – this is $160 US Dollars and is required for anyone booking a visa interview.
5. Schedule an appointment

Contacting the Embassy (UK Enquiries only).

For any questions or issues relating to visa interviews etc. you can use the Operator Assistance Visa Information Line - or contact them using the @USAinUKConsular Twitter Account below:

• Callers within the United Kingdom should dial 020 3608 6998
• Callers from the United States should dial 703-439-2367
The call center is open Monday through Friday, 7:00 am and 7:00 pm (local time; EST in the United States). The call center is closed on all U.K. and U.S. holidays

Common Questions

  • Is the SEVIS fee the same as the Embassy fee?

    No. They are totally separate. Even though your SEVIS fee has been paid you still need to pay the embassy fee.

  • Do I need to go for an interview?

    IN almost every case the answer is YES. The only time you will not automatically be required to go for an interview is if you extending a current J1 visa - this is where your DS-2019/ SEVIS ID number remains the same. For all new J1 visas an interview is required.

  • Can I book my interview BEFORE I have my DS-2019?

    Sorry, No.
    In order to book your interview you need to complete the DS-160 and to do this you need your DS-2019 Number.
    This number can only be generated once your application for the programme has been approved in the USA.

  • IS there a fast-track service at the embassy?

    No. The wait times are published here You may get lucky and get a quicker appointment by checking in on your account daily to see if any free up.
    There is also an option within the online booking system to request an expedited appointment - HOWEVER please note this is normally reserved for emergencies so do not expect to be successful in gaining an expedited appointment.
    You can't speed up the processing at the embassy however - this takes 3-5 working days AFTER your interview before you will get your passport (with J1 Visa printed inside) and DS-2019 Certificate returned to you.

  • Will I know on the day if I'm approved?

    Normally YES.
    In some cases however your application may be put forward for more checks and administrative processing - which can take longer.

  • Can I pick my passport up from the Embassy?

    No. You can choose to have your passport sent back to one of the pick up locations around the UK - or for an additional fee you can choose to have it delivered to an address of your choosing.
    These options are made clear when you book the interview.

    Nonimmigrant visa applicants are required to arrange for the return of their passport by courier before they schedule the appointment for the visa interview.
    Courier services are free of charge if you choose to have your documents returned to one of the collection points around the United Kingdom operated by the Embassy appointed courier service. Home Delivery is available at a cost of $30.00 per applicant; payment is by credit card. Please see for further information.
    See for full details.

  • The DS-160 asks for 2 contacts in my home country - what should I put?

    For Internship USA: We recommend putting the details of your course tutor and a family friend (not a family member!)
    For Graduate Internship USA: We recommend your university tutor (if possible) and a a family friend (not a family member!) - or employer.
    For PCT USA: We recommend a previous employer and a colleague

  • I've aready had a J1 - do I still need an interview?

    Almost always the answer is YES!
    In certain cases (such as applying for an extension to an existing J1 visa with an extended DS-2019) a participant *may* be allowed to apply via post.*
    However for all other cases you can expect to have to book and attend an interview in person at the US Embassy or consulate.

    *Please note: A Consular Officer reserves the right to request that an applicant appear in person for an interview after reviewing his or her application.

  • Can I go for an interview outside the UK?

    Yes, you can attend outside of the UK, so you should check out the website of the embassy you wish to attend and follow their instructions. Ensure you take all the documents we have sent you and if you are a UK student, we recommend that you take a letter from your university supporting your studies and your J1 application with you.

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IST Plus was formed in 2003. Since then we have worked with thousands of students and young people from all over the world to help and guide them on their international journeys.
We work with partners across the globe to provide the best service possible.


In the UK: 0207 788 7877
International: +44 (20) 7788 7877

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