How to Apply – Prospective International Visitors

Thank you for your interest in visiting the Forest Service or participating in programs sponsored by the Forest Service, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and our official partners.

The International Visitor Program (IVP) provides services to USDA units that host international visitors.  After host units select participants for their programs, the IVP team provides guidance and assistance with visas and other services.  Visitors receiving official invitations will be advised to apply for either a B-1 or J-1 visa depending on the nature of their particular visit or program. International students holding F-1 visas should contact IVP staff directly to discuss training options.

Individuals interested in participating in a J-1 Exchange Program for research, observation or technical visits should explore the Forest Service and the Agricultural Research Service websites to identify areas and offices of interest. Contact these units directly to discuss individual project and program proposals.  Remember to send your resume and a cover letter with a summary of your interests, objectives, proposed activities and dates.  If a unit wishes to invite you to participate in a program, you and your host will work with an IVP Specialist to discuss the program, determine the appropriate visa classification, and complete the application process.

Trainee, Intern and Volunteer Applicants who have not identified a host unit can send a resume, summary of interest, and proposed program dates to the IVP Specialist responsible for Forest Service outreach. There is no guarantee of a placement, but your resume will be forwarded to prospective host units.

If you have been invited to participate in a program sponsored by the Forest Service, USDA or an official partner organization, please review the information provided on this website and complete the following steps:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply for a visa in a country where I do not have legal permanent residence?

  • One may also apply for a visa in another consular jurisdiction where you are “physically present”, but only if that country has agreed to process visa applications for “third country nationals” (TCNs). The majority of consular officers do accept applications from TCNs; nevertheless, it may be more difficult or time consuming than applying from your home country.  If a visitor is already in the US with a visa classification other than J-1, the person wishing to hold a J-1 visa must apply for a change of status, or consider departing the country and re-entering. See the section on “Change of Status” for more information.

Do I have to pay a SEVIS fee?

  • J-1 Exchange Visitors sponsored by the US Forest Service International Programs are exempt from paying a SEVIS fee as they are applying for a government sponsored program. This is indicated by the program number, which begins with G-3. This is further clarified on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website

How long do security checks take?

  • Prior to issuing a DS-2019, the US Forest Service submits exchange visitor information for a required security clearance.  Upon applying for a visa at a US Consulate abroad, the applicant may be subject to additional security checks. Please note that security and name checks can significantly delay the visa approval process anywhere from 4-12 weeks. This varies from country to country. More information can be found on U.S. Embassy and Consulate websites.

We look forward to your visit!