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Need to know / Summer camp

What to expect at your J1 visa appointment

What it's actually like to go to the US Embassy for your J-1 visa from someone who has been five times.

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Hey I’m Victoria, a Summer Camp enthusiast who is about to spend her fifth summer at a camp in Pennsylvania.

I have been through the visa process many times (it’s never not stressful), and I’m here to share that with you as well as some been-there-done-that pointers on what to expect and how to make that US embassy appointment run smoothly. Let’s do this…

Applying for your visa

When you’re at the stage of applying for your visa, you will be sent a visa pack via email from your agency, aka JENZA for some of you. This pack includes all the info you need to know on how to fill out your application, how to actually book the embassy appointment, along with a checklist of things to make sure you take with you. Things got digital with our visa papers meaning you can print them off at home instead of waiting for them to come in the post which helps speed things along.

Step one: DS forms

The first thing you need to do when you receive your visa pack, is to fill in your DS-160, as I mentioned all the instructions and guidance will be given to you so don’t worry if it looks a little daunting. It is quite a lengthy application so make sure you put aside some time to do it. You can save it as you go along, but the website can be a little funny at saving your info sometimes, so I’d recommend getting it done in one go if you can.

Step two: Booking that embassy appointment

Once you’ve completed your DS-160 you’ll be redirected to book in for your embassy appointment (yay!). You’ll need to pay the visa fee when booking but again, all this info will get sent to you by JENZA so you can cross-reference each stage with the visa pack provided or with your designated Camp Expert on the team.

*TOP TIP - When it comes to booking your embassy appointment, try and go as early as possible. The embassy can get super busy and the later you go, the longer the wait times. One year I was in the embassy for 4 hours (not ideal) so try and plan around that and get an appointment early doors.

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Victoria smiles in a grassy field at camp

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victoria Whitehouse

Originally from Birmingham in the UK, Victoria got the travel bug good after spending her first summer at camp in Pennsylvania back in 2018. Since then she’s travelled a whole lot, lived abroad in Australia and Bali, gone to summer camp again (many, many times) and is really living her best life. Where you’ll find her: at the beach for sunrise.

"The process might seem complex and a little confusing but as long as you follow the guidance given to you by JENZA it should be a piece of cake."

Step three: The US Embassy appointment

I remember when I went to my first embassy appointment I was absolutely terrified, and honestly there is nothing to worry about at all. Make sure you follow the checklist and you triple check you’ve got everything that you need with you, and you’ll be good to go.

What to wear to your embassy appointment?

I get a lot of people asking me what they should wear to their embassy appointment and I always say smart casual. I usually go in jeans and a T-shirt/jumper with trainers. First year I dressed up as if I was going to a job interview not knowing what to expect - it was much more relaxed than I thought it would be.

What happens when you get to the embassy appointment?

I have been to both the London Embassy and the Consulate in Sydney for my visa appointments and the procedure has been fairly similar. I’d get called up to one desk first and would provide my documents, usually give my fingerprints here and then I’d be given back my documents in a little pack and told to sit down again.

You’ll then get called back up for the interview part of the appointment where I was asked about my job role at summer camp, if I had been to America before and just some general questions about my camp. This is based on my experience and you might get asked different, but you’ll be able to answer them easy enough I’m sure.

Step four: That’s a wrap

That's it, you can now head off on your day and wait for that exciting email that tells you your visa has been approved. The embassy will keep your passport while your visa is being processed, so just bear that in mind for any international holidays during this time as they're not going to happen minus a passport. I usually receive an email a couple of weeks later that my passport is ready for collection (you can opt to pay extra to have your passport delivered back to you).

Visa locked in, you can start getting hyped for your Summer Camp USA experience! The process might seem complex and a little confusing but as long as you follow the guidance given to you by JENZA it should be a piece of cake. If you've got any more questions on your Summer Camp visa process or how to apply - the JENZA Support Squad are all ears. Drop us an email or give us a call to chat.

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Victoria smiles in a grassy field at camp

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victoria Whitehouse

Originally from Birmingham in the UK, Victoria got the travel bug good after spending her first summer at camp in Pennsylvania back in 2018. Since then she’s travelled a whole lot, lived abroad in Australia and Bali, gone to summer camp again (many, many times) and is really living her best life. Where you’ll find her: at the beach for sunrise.

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