The J-1 visa program allows individuals to become a trainee or intern and gain professional experience in order to expand their options for long-term careers in their native countries. For some people, taking part in a J-1 exchange program would be the best option.
Tucker, Nong and Associates can help anyone who has questions about how to become involved in a J-1 intern or trainee program. We can help you if you are interested in becoming an intern or trainee or you are part of a company that is interested in sponsoring an individual for a J-1 visa.
The Basics of the J-1 Visa Program
The US Department of State is the major force in charge of the J-1 exchange visitor program. Essentially, the purpose of the program is to give foreign nationals opportunities the chance to learn and perform certain skills, and in the process encourage international exchange and development. Whether the foreign national wants to study, work, teach, or engage in some other acceptable activity, there are multiple categories in the J-1 program in which he or she can take part.
Fields included in the J-1 Program
There are seven fields in which the US is typically able to provide J-1 programs for potential foreign trainees and interns. These fields include:
- information media and technology
- law and public administration
- arts and culture
- social sciences/social services/library science/non-clinical counseling science/mathematics/engineering/architecture
Authorization of Sponsors
In order for a foreign national to participate in a J-1 program, he or she will need a sponsor. This is a host company that the US Department of State has approved. The company is capable of administering J-1 programs. It is the host that will generate the forms that one needs to complete in order to obtain the J-1 visa. The majority of the time, the sponsor will also be the employer or host to the individual, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, the sponsor will simply oversee the progress in the program and will collaborate with the US Department of State on the matter. The Department of State website provides a comprehensive listing of sponsors that have been authorized.
Requirements for J-1 Trainees
J-1 trainees can stay in the US for a maximum of 18 months. They need to have degrees or certificates from their native countries, as well as a minimum of a year of relevant experience. Once the trainee finishes the program, he or she will be required to leave the United States. Returning to the country to take part in a different J-1 program will not be possible for at least two years. It should be noted that this inability to reside in the US for that two year period is not the same rule as the two-year home residency requirement that is applicable to J-1 trainees under some specific circumstances.
Requirements for J-1 Interns
J-1 interns can stay in the US for a maximum of 12 months. It is required that the intern be currently enrolled in a program to obtain a degree or certificate, or have graduated within the past 12 months, at a foreign post-graduate academic institution. Unlike trainees, interns are able to finish one J-1 program and then immediately begin another, as long as he or she continues to meet the required conditions. A J-1 intern can also become a J-1 trainee, but only after he or she leaves the country for a minimum of two years.
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