Sponsor: to pay for or give money to an event, a television or radio program, a website etc as a way to advertise your products or services.
This is the definition the Macmillan dictionary gives. However, in popular culture the word sponsor has several definitions in the USA.
For the purpose of J-1 students the word sponsor is mainly used in regards to your J-1 visa Sponsor.
WHAT IS A J-1 VISA SPONSOR?
Once your Hotel placement is secured; your agent, yourself or the hotel must speak with a authorized J-1 Visa Sponsor.
Visa Sponsors are responsible for confirming that selected participants are eligible for the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, as well as supporting and monitoring them during their entire program stay. Program Sponsors charges make up the majority of the final J-1 Program fees, they are typically $1500-$2500 depending on the length of your program.
Visa Sponsors are also responsible for signing off your DS forms. DS forms are the forms you need to apply for the J-1 visa at the U.S. embassy. They send these DS forms to you by FedEx from the USA.
VISA SPONSOR FEES
Visa sponsors will charge program fees for their services. You as an applicant have to make sure that the sponsor fees are included in the total program fees your agency/school charges. Always make sure you have a full overview of all the costs before you apply for a J-1 Program. This way you can make a fair comparison between several agencies.
...SPONSOR AND THE U.S. EMBASSY
When you visit the U.S. Embassy in your home country to apply for your J-1 visa the officer at the embassy asks you questions. They might ask you who your sponsor is. Because the words have different meanings you might need to clarify the question?
Do you mean my J-1 Visa Sponsor sir/madam, or do you mean the person who supports me financially in the USA?
If the officer at the embassy answers by saying they mean the J-1 Visa Sponsor you can now answer this question, because you know the visa sponsor is the organization on your DS form! If it is the latter, then explain who is helping to finance your trip (parent, guardian or family member).