VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 3 POSTED ON: 9/2/2011
U.S. Embassy Minsk J Visas: Summer Work and Travel (SWT) Program 2008 The program in 2008 will build upon the framework put in place over the past several years. Providers will be able to start submitting applications on February 22 with interviews running from February 29 until June 10. This should provide sufficient flexibility to individual applicants and program providers. Important Information for Providers Applicant Screening: It is crucial to the success of the program that all providers continue vigorous prescreening of applicants to ensure that each student is able to demonstrate his or her eligibility for the non-immigrant J1 visa. All applicants must understand that eligibility for a U.S. non-immigrant J-1 visa is not automatic; each applicant must demonstrate his or her eligibility to the Consular Officer. Final-Year Students: Due to a recent change in regulations, applicants who are full-time students at the time of their visa applications are eligible to participate in SWT. This means that final-year students are eligible. However, providers should be aware that it will particularly difficult for final- year students to show strong enough ties to Belarus to overcome 214(b) and qualify for a non- immigrant visa. Therefore, final year students should be prepared to demonstrate especially compelling evidence that they will return home after the program. Complete Packages: It is the responsibility of providers to ensure that students’ application materials are in order upon submission. Providers will lose interview slots on a given day in the event that materials are incomplete. General Information Each provider will have blocks of interview appointments assigned at the discretion of the Consular Section; It is the responsibility of the program provider to inform students about their interview times; The Embassy will interview all J-1 visa applicants; Adjustments to these guidelines will be made solely at the discretion of the Embassy. Application Package Submission Procedures Program providers will submit students’ application packages to the Consular Section in the morning one week prior to the appointment block. NO SUBSTITUTIONS WILL BE ALLOWED ONCE A PROVIDER HAS SUBMITTED ITS WEEKLY APPLICATION PACKAGE. Interview Procedures Providers will pay the non-refundable visa application fees ($131 per application) in a lump sum at the time they drop off the packets for each block of interview appointments. Providers may present individual prepared receipts for each student that the Consular Officer will sign and stamp. This will be the individual receipt for the applicant; Applicants must appear for their interviews on the date and in accordance with the number received from the Program Provider or the Embassy (in the case of students applying independently); Applicants with cell phones, bags, or other items requiring additional security screening will not be interviewed and will lose their interview slots; Students failing to qualify for J-1 visas will receive their passports and supplemental application materials immediately following the interview; Qualifying applicants’ passports will be delivered to program providers one week later when new application packages are delivered to the Embassy; Visa Refusals A refusal decision by the Consular Officer is final. No appeals will be processed; Applicants refused visas under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act may make a new application. However, the Consular Section recommends that applicants denied visas for the 2008 SWT program do not reapply within the same six month period unless they can show further evidence of their ties or how their circumstances have changed since the time of the original application. Applicants will be charged a nonrefundable application fee each time they apply for a visa, regardless of whether a visa is issued. Applicants who wish to reapply should contact their Program Provider to request an interview. A limited number of appointments for reapplications will be available once all other applicants have been processed. Missed Appointment or Incomplete Application Policy Missed interviews and incomplete packages will be refused under Section 221(g), and the applicant can interview in another time slot, but the missed time slot will be forfeited; In case of a missed appointment or incomplete application package, it is up to the provider (not the Embassy) to submit the student’s name in a subsequent applicant batch. Resubmissions decrease the number of free slots a program provider can use for new applications. However, it is ultimately the provider’s decision. Application Package Details The application package must include: DS-156 visa application completed in English on-line at https://evisaforms.state.gov/ds156.asp (NOTE: The computer printout is three pages and includes a 2-D barcode on the third page. This barcode MUST be submitted as well or the application will be rejected as incomplete); DS-158 (supplemental information form required of all J visa applicants). DS-157 (for male applicants only). A passport valid at least 6 months beyond the applicant's intended date of departure from the United States; DS-2019 (acceptance to a designated exchange visitor program); Student grade book (zachotka); Student identification card (studencheski bilet); Any other documents that might illustrate ties to Belarus. (these documents are not compulsory and will be viewed by the Embassy as additional information.) All U.S. Government Application Forms should be completed in English except as noted. You can find the DS-157 and DS-158 on-line at http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/forms/forms_1342.html Job Offer Letters Applicants are not required to present job offers at the time of their visa applications. However, the Embassy strongly encourages all SWT participants to arrange job offers before they travel to the U.S. to begin the SWT exchange program. The Embassy is aware of cases in which participants arrived in the U.S. and were not able to find jobs in a timely manner, causing financial difficulties. Job offers contribute to the applicant’s safety and security upon arrival in the U.S. In addition, in the current political context, it is important to the future of the SWT program in Belarus that problems encountered in the past due to the lack of job offers not be repeated. Applicants There is no list of requirements that would guarantee receipt of a visa. However, the formula for success includes: -telling the truth, -demonstrating commitment to one's studies, -having a good level of English, -being able to explain why participation in SWT makes sense in their individual case First-year students and final-year students are eligible to participate in SWT. However, due to their transitional status, these students may have more difficulty proving sufficient ties to Belarus. These individuals will need to present particularly convincing evidence of ties and future plans. Repeat participants are eligible, though such applicants will need to convince the consular officer of the cultural importance of a second or third trip; Although there are no formal age restrictions for participants, applicants who are not of normal student age may receive greater scrutiny. Important Notices For Providers: Failure to adhere to the above guidelines, or applicable U.S. law, could result in penalties including a temporary or even permanent suspension of a program provider’s submission privileges. The Embassy can only process applications efficiently if program providers and students assist us by closely following these guidelines. Without such assistance it will be difficult for the Embassy to process the considerable number of J-1 program applicants in a timely fashion. It is in everyone’s interest to work together and to follow these guidelines. Section 212(a) (6)(C)(I) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act law applies serious penalties to efforts to defraud or misrepresent material facts to the U.S. government. This bars aliens who seek to procure, have sought to procure or have procured a visa or other documentation; admission to the U.S.; or other benefit by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a fact. If you have knowledge of this activity, please telephone the U.S. Embassy in Minsk: 210-1283. A finding of misrepresentation may render the applicant permanently ineligible to immigrate or travel to the United States. Section 212(a)(6)(E) of the INA provides for the ineligibility for visa issuance of “any alien” who has “at any time”...”knowingly”... “encouraged, assisted, abetted or aided”...”any other alien”...”to enter or to try to enter the United States” in violation of law.
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