Before applying for your J-1 visa, you are required to pay a $180 SEVIS fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. J-2 dependents do not pay a SEVIS fee.
You can schedule an appointment for the visa interview before paying the fee. However, you must pay the fee and complete form I-901 at least three business days prior to the visa interview. Be sure to print your receipt when you pay the fee online. Not all U.S. consulates and embassies have access to the SEVIS database to verify that you paid, so it is essential that you show the receipt at the time of your visa interview.
Note: If you do not pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, then your visa application will be denied by the U.S. Department of State. Canadians and other foreign nationals who do not need J-1 visa stamps will be required to pay before going to the U.S. port of entry. The fee CANNOT be paid at the port of entry.