J-1 Teacher Exchange

Help bring the world to US students

We’re so glad you are considering the BridgeUSA J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. We at Northwest International Student Exchange (NISE) are confident that you will benefit immensely from a K-12 teaching experience in the United States both professionally and personally.

Exchange teachers expand their professional skills and participate in cross-cultural activities in schools and communities, and they return to their home school after the exchange to share their experiences and increased knowledge of the United States and the US educational system.  

NISE is committed to providing you with a satisfying experience from the time you prepare for your arrival to the US to the day you return home. Throughout this process, it is important that you keep an open mind to the new experiences ahead and any expectations you may have about the US and its diverse communities. You will have challenging days and wonderful days, but we believe that the overall time you spend in the US will be one of the most positive and memorable times of your life.

Per US Department of State program regulations, teacher candidates must, at minimum, meet the following criteria:

  • Be of good reputation and character.
  • Possess, at minimum, a degree equivalent to a 4-year US bachelor’s degree in either education or the academic subject field in which they intend to teach.
  • Satisfy the teaching eligibility standards of the US state in which they will teach, to include any required criminal background or other checks.
  • Applicants must be working as a teacher in their home country at the time of application, with at least two years of full-time teaching experience and meet the qualifications for teaching at the primary, including pre-kindergarten, or secondary levels in schools in their home country OR if applicant is not working as a teacher in their home country at the time of application, they must have had at least two years of full-time teaching experience within the past 8 years AND will have completed an advanced degree within 12 months of application submission. In addition, they meet the qualifications for teaching at the primary, including pre-K, or secondary levels in schools in their home country.
  • Possess sufficient proficiency in the English language (see FAQ tab).

NISE teacher candidates are required to complete the program application and submit all required documents to be considered for program participation. A completed program application includes the following:

  • Signed NISE Term of Agreement & Responsibilities
  • $250 application fee
  • A successful English proficiency interview
  • TOEFL iBT scores
  • Copy of passport
  • Bank statement showing at least $1,000 USD in emergency funds for arrival period
  • Proof of teaching certification, indicating qualification to teach at primary or secondary levels in schools in the applicant’s home country.
  • Two reference letters written within the last 12 months. One of the references must be provided by a current or former supervisor, attesting to that teacher’s good reputation, character, and teaching skills.
  • Proof of a degree equivalent to a 4-year US bachelor’s degree in either education or the academic subject field in which the applicant intends to teach.
  • A Foreign Credential Evaluation that confirms a degree earned in a country outside of the US meets the standards of a 4-year US bachelor’s degree
  • An updated, cleanly formatted resume in English that encapsulates your relevant teaching experience.

While each US state has different licensing procedures, most boards of education require a Foreign Credential Evaluation (FCE) which is the teacher applicant’s responsibility to procure and pay for directly.

NISE recommends using members of National Association Of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). The initial application must be accompanied by a Foreign Credential Evaluation (FCE) issued by an independent US agency. Unless otherwise indicated, the application for renewal is often required for each year that the teacher returns, up to the total allowable annual limit.

Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement

When you participate in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, you will be subject to the two-year home-country foreign residency requirement if your exchange program meets any of the following criteria:

  • The program is funded directly or indirectly by either your government or the US government.
  • The program involves specialized knowledge or skills deemed necessary by your home country (as determined by the Exchange Visitor Skills List).

Your DS-1029 form will be checked either “Not subject to the two-year residence requirement” or “Subject to two-year residence requirement” on the bottom left side. In addition, your J-1 visa stamp will also be noted either “Bearer is not subject to section 212 (E)” or “Bearer is subject to section 212 (E).”

If subject to the foreign residency requirement, you must return to your home country for a cumulative period of two years after the end of your program. You are not prohibited from traveling to the US during this period, but you will not qualify for certain employment and family-based visas until the foreign residency requirement is satisfied.

NISE is designated by the US Department of State to act as a sponsor for international teachers who wish to teach in the US. The program fees vary and depend upon program type, length, and recruitment path. There are several non-refundable fees associated with each step of the application process and other fees that are specific to each applicant. See below for the full list of program pricing and services provided.

General Program Sponsor FeesFee
First Year Registration$1,950
*Foreign or Domestic Third Party or Partner$0
Program Renewal (Years 2–3)$1,500/year
Year 4/5 Program Extension Application$1,500/year
Transfer Fee$500
First Year J-2 Dependent Application$500/dependent
J-2 Dependent Program Renewal$350/dependent

*Sending Organization and Third-Party Referral or Processing Fee:

NISE only accepts no-cost referrals from third party Sending Organizations. NISE does not pay any Sending Organization and/or Third Party a referral fee, processing fee and/or commission. Furthermore, NISE will not accept any applicant that has been required by a Sending Organization and/or Third Party to pay any referral fee, processing fee and/or commission. NISE handles all vetting, screening, and training directly with each teacher applicant.

Non-Refundable Processing FeesFee
Visa Interview$185
4–5 Year US DOS Extension Fee$500
Criminal Background Checks$50–165
Additional Program FeesFee
Foreign Credential Evaluation
(Fee varies depending on number of diplomas & transcripts being evaluated)
Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL)$185
State Teaching License/Licensure Exams$100-200
NISE Insurance Plan$80-150/month
Cancellation TimeframeFee
Cancellation request received at least 30 days before DS-2019 start date.$500
Cancellation request received 29–1 day(s) before DS-2019 start date.$1,000
Cancellation request received on or after DS-2019 start date.$1,950

All cancellation requests must be made in writing to NISE’s Responsible Officer.

Monthly Expenses*Expense
Rental Insurance$50–100
Utilities (electricity, natural gas, water, garbage/recycling)$90–200
Cell Phone$50–100
Car (monthly lease, fuel, maintenance, insurance)$600–900
Public Transportation$80–120
Travel, Entertainment, Eating Out$200-400
Personal Expenses$100–200


Payroll Taxes & Deductions per Paycheck*Percentage
Federal Payroll Tax10–15% (will vary by how much you earn)
FICA (Social Security/Medicare)7.65%
State Payroll Tax 0–13% (will vary depending on location)
401K (Retirement)0–15%
Union Dues1–3%
Subsidized School Health Insurance$50–150



Invoicing & Payment Policy

NISE invoices teacher candidates or their sending companies for the full program fee immediately following their confirmed placement with a host school. Upon receipt of the invoice, the candidate or their sending company has 30 days to submit full payment to NISE.

NISE does not issue DS-2019 forms until invoice payment has been paid. NISE accepts various methods of payment; ACH, wire, and/or credit card using NISE’s online store, Shopify. Generally, all forms of payment listed take 3-5 business days to settle.

NISE’s refund policy is determined by the nature and timing of the program cancellation. Refunds due to program cancellation are subject to cancellation fees. Refund requests must be made directly to NISE. Refunds will be processed by the same means by which payment was rendered.

The J-1 Visa is a special non-immigrant visa type which enables foreign nationals the opportunity to participate in the US Department of State’s BridgeUSA Exchange Visitor Program (EVP). The EVP provides opportunities for around 300,000 foreign visitors per year to experience US society and culture and engage with Americans. There are fifteen different categories under the J-1 BridgeUSA Exchange Visitor Program, besides the teacher category. Most individuals choosing to come to the US on a J-1 BridgeUSA Exchange Visitor Program are funded privately. These J-1 exchanges include a cultural component that gives participants the opportunity to engage more broadly with Americans and share their own cultures with their US host school/communities. They return home eager to stay connected, to expand their networks, and to explore future exchange opportunities as “citizen ambassadors.”

NISE is a sponsor for the J-1 BridgeUSA Exchange Visitor Program, Teacher Category, designated by the US Department of State. Only designated sponsors are authorized to issue the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (the DS-2019) which is the basic document to support an application for the J-1 Visa.

The Form DS-2019 or Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status is the basic document used in the administration of the Exchange Visitor Program. This form permits a prospective exchange visitor to seek an interview at a US embassy or consulate to obtain a J Visa to enter the United States. The Form DS-2019 identifies the exchange visitor and their designated sponsor and provides a brief description of the exchange visitor’s program, including the start and end date, category of exchange, and an estimate of the cost of the exchange program.

NISE is the participant’s sponsor throughout his or her time in the United States, up to the end date listed on the DS-2019. NISE is available to exchange teachers throughout their programs to help with general questions about life and procedures in the United Sates, or about their program. In case of emergency, NISE offers an emergency contact line which is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. NISE also collects periodic evaluations from participants and their host schools to ensure that the experience is positive and that outlined objectives of the program are being met.

To obtain your J-1 Visa, you must engage in a full application and review process with NISE. NISE will assess your application, supporting documents, and intended host school for eligibility and compliance with the Exchange Visitor Program. If your application is approved, NISE will issue your DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility and provide further instruction on how you will then apply for a J-1 Visa appointment at your home country’s US embassy or consulate. Issuance of the J-1 Visa, like all non-immigrant visas, is at the discretion of Consular Officers viewing visa applications at US embassies and consulates. This means that even if you are accepted to an Exchange Visitor Program and have received your DS-2019, the Consular Officers decide if you receive the J-1 Visa.

As part of the NISE teacher candidate registration, you will be required to submit your Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Internet-based test (iBT) score. NISE will only accept teacher candidates that have scores that fall within the Advanced range for each of the four test categories. See the chart below for reference.


ReadingAdvanced (24–30)
High-Intermediate (18–23)
Low-Intermediate (4–17)
Below Low-Intermediate (0–3)
ListeningAdvanced (22–30)
High-Intermediate (17–21)
Low-Intermediate (9–16)
Below Low-Intermediate (0–8)
SpeakingAdvanced (25–30)
High-Intermediate (20–24)
Low-Intermediate (16–19)
Basic (10–15)
Below Basic (0–9)
WritingAdvanced (24–30)
High-Intermediate (17–23)
Low-Intermediate (13–16)
Basic (7–12)
Below Basic (0–6)

Some J-1 Exchange Visitors* may be subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement which requires you to return to your home country for at least two years at the end of your exchange visitor program. This is also known as the foreign residence requirement under US law, Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(e). As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, US law requires a two-year period of home residency before an individual applies for non-immigrant visas, (i.e., B-1 and B-2) as temporary workers (i.e., H-1B), or for permanent residency in the United States (i.e., EB-2). This requirement does not prevent you from reentry into the United States within the two-year period to attend conferences, tourism, or for further study nor does this requirement prevent you from going to a third country after leaving the US. The US Department of State reserves the right to make final determination regarding 212(e).

*Note, if the J-1 is subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, their accompanying J-2 Dependents are also automatically subject.

Interested in J-1 teacher exchange?

Complete the form and NISE will follow up with more information on the teacher exchange program and application process.