Eligibility

Trainee

  • The applicant has a foreign degree from a 4-year or 2-year university or college and has at least 1 year of full-time work experience (or 2 years if part-time) outside of the U.S. in similar occupational field; or
  • The applicant has at least 5 years of full-time work experience outside of the U.S. and will receive training in similar occupational field.

Intern

  • The applicant has graduated from a foreign university or graduate school no more than 12 months prior to the intended start date of the internship.
  • The internship must be related to the applicant’s major.

Training Environment

  • Training must take place in an English environment.
  • For host companies that have never applied for J-1 and have fewer than 25 employees or less than $3 million in annual revenue, the sponsor organization may conduct a site visit. The organization will verify that the company provides an English training environment during the site visit.
  • The sponsor organization will conduct an English phone or Skype interview with the applicant to verify that he or she is able to carry out everyday conversations in English. If the interviewer determines that the applicant’s English ability is not sufficient, the application may be denied.
  • The sponsor organization will also conduct an English phone or Skype interview with the supervisor at the host company. The supervisor must therefore also have sufficient English abilities.

Additional Notes

  • The trainee may not take the place of a local employee. If an audit determines that the J-1 trainee is engaged in unauthorized employment, the host company may face difficulties obtaining future J-1 visas as well as other visas for violating the terms of the visa sponsorship.
  • Since February 2014, the United States Department of State (DOS) has begun conducting unannounced J-1 audits. Companies are selected at random.

Validity Period

  • Trainee: maximum of 18 months *Training in the occupation field of hospitality or tourism is limited to a maximum of 12 months
    • Exception: training in the hospitality occupation field may be allowed a period of up to 18 months if the training is in management (e.g. hotel management)
  • Intern: maximum of 12 months

Procedure Overview

To obtain a J-1 visa, a sponsor organization must first approve the host company’s training/internship program and issue a DS-2019. The applicant may then apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. After the issuance of the visa, the applicant must enter the U.S. within the 30-day window before or after the start date of the program indicated on the DS-2019. The applicant may begin training/intern upon reporting the start of the program to the sponsor organization.

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