J-1 Visa: How Can Interns or Trainees Come to the US to Work and Receive Training?

The J-1 is a very popular visa that is administered by the State Department, not USCIS.

How does it work and who qualifies for the J-1 Cultural Exchange Visa?

The J-1 visa allows individuals such as students and trainees to come to the United States to receive practical training or participate in an internship program, to gain experience in a particular field of study, and take that experience and skill set back to the country of origin. The practical training or internship program should be one that is not available in the individual’s country of origin. The J-1 cultural exchange visa program allows the foreign national to obtain experience that they would not have otherwise obtained in their home country.

The J-1 visa requires a third-party sponsor that controls and supervises the J-1 program that the foreign national will participate in, while the State Department administers the filing process of the J-1 visa. The third-party sponsor also ensures that the foreign national will return to their country of origin at the conclusion of the cultural exchange program.

What types of training programs can foreign nationals participate in with this visa type?

Foreign nationals may participate in the J-1 cultural exchange visa program as au pairs, scholars, researchers, trainees, and professionals.

The J-1 Summer Work and Travel Program

  • 90-day program where you receive J-1 designation to work and travel to the United States
  • Allowed to find an employer after receiving the J-1 approval

Trainee J-1: Practical Training Program

  • Trainees must be under the age of thirty-five
  • Requires that the foreign national find an employer
  • Third Party Sponsor/Agency issues a training program showing what the foreign national will be doing for a one-year to eighteen-month period with that potential employer
  • Once approved, the applicant will apply for the J-1 visa at the embassy in their home country
  • At the conclusion of the program, the trainee must return to their country of origin

For more information about the J-1 visa please visit our website.

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