General Program Information
What does InterExchange Career Training USA do?
InterExchange Career Training USA helps U.S. businesses benefit from participating in international internships and training programs. InterExchange is designated by the U.S. Department of State to provide J-1 Visa sponsorship to interns and trainees who meet our program requirements.
Why should I hire an international intern or trainee?
International interns and trainees bring an international perspective, foreign language skills and a variety of other talents and experiences. Additionally, trainees can be part of your company longer than most American interns—up to 18 months—and can begin their program at any time during the year. Learn more about the benefits of international internships and trainee programs.
What is a J-1 Visa?
The J-1 Visa is a non-immigrant, cultural exchange visa issued through the Exchange Visitor Program. Entry into the U.S. as a participant in the Exchange Visitor Program is granted with the understanding that participants will complete the objectives of their program category. The program categories offered through Career Training USA are "intern" and "trainee."
I would like to host an intern or trainee. How do I know whether he or she is eligible?
Review participant eligibility requirements on our website.
Is my industry eligible?
InterExchange is designated to sponsor programs in a wide range of fields that fall under the following categories:
- Arts & Culture
- Information Media and Communications
- Management, Business, Commerce and Finance
- Public Administration and Law
- The Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics and Industrial Occupations
- Hospitality and Tourism
Review our full list of fields. Please note that we cannot sponsor programs in fields such as agriculture, education or any other field not listed. If you are unsure whether the internship or training program you are offering falls under our list of fields, please contact InterExchange.
What types of training are prohibited?
Not all employers are permitted to host through InterExchange. We cannot approve participants for sponsorship at the following locations:
- Bridal companies
- Camps (Consider our Camp USA program for camp positions)
- Candy stores, mall kiosks, boardwalk booths, and stands
- Convenience and grocery stores or superettes/mini-markets (consider our Work & Travel USA program for seasonal positions)
- Call center, customer service, or phone operators, including tech and help desk support
- Fast food or quick service restaurants or bakeries (consider our Work & Travel USA program for seasonal positions)
- Fitness studios, gyms, pools, dance studios, personal training, or coaching
- Gardens or parks
- Gas stations or toll plazas
- Landscaping companies
- Pool management companies
- Retail stores or locations and boutiques
- Schools and other instructional facilities
- Spas, salons, or dog grooming companies
- Staffing agencies
If you require staff at one of the locations mentioned above or would like seasonal staff to assist with tasks that are not appropriate for Career Training USA participants, our Work & Travel USA program may be able to help meet your needs.
In addition, we are not able to sponsor programs in which interns or trainees would participate in: animal care, child care, elder care, clinical work that involves any patient care or contact, sports or physical therapy, psychological counseling, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, social work, speech therapy or early childhood education.
Are there special requirements for hospitality hosts?
Yes, the following requirements apply to hotel/hospitality management, hotel food and beverage management, restaurant management and culinary arts.
- InterExchange does not permit business-only (finance, accounting, human resources, etc.) programs in hotels, resorts, inns, or restaurants.
- Interns and Trainees wishing to work in hospitality or restaurant management positions must have hospitality or restaurant management education (interns) or work experience (trainees) in order to be able to rotate through various departments.
- At least three rotations for programs six months or longer is required by the regulations. No rotation may be more than three or four months long, and each department must have sufficient, qualified staff to offer adequate training.
- All Hospitality Management, Restaurant Management and Culinary programs are limited to 12 months regardless of whether the individual is an Intern or Trainee.
- Hospitality Interns and Trainees may not return to properties at which they have previously worked on a Work and Travel program or other work visa.
- Education or work experience only in Tourism Management does not qualify Interns or Trainees for programs in Hospitality Management, as those fields are not interchangeable.
|Should be rated 3-Diamond or higher by AAA, or rated 4-Star and above by Forbes.||Must be high-end, fine dining, sit-down restaurants OR full-service banquet halls.|
|All unrated properties will be considered on a case-by-case basis.||All properties will be considered on a case-by-case basis.|
|Motels||National chains, casual dining restaurants, pubs, pizza parlors|
|Hostels||Fast food, delivery/takeout restaurants, bakeries|
|Hotels that do not meet the above requirements||Kiosks, stands, food trucks|
Acceptable Types of Training
Remember that participants must rotate through departments and roles. Therefore, they may train in any given category for only one phase.
|Hotel/Hospitality Management||Restaurant/Food and Beverage Management||Culinary Arts|
|Front Desk||Restaurant/Food and Beverage Management||Kitchen equipment and food-handling safety training|
|Concierge||Restaurant Inventory or Management/Buying||Recipe development|
|Hotel or Restaurant Inventory/Buying||Catering/Event Planning||Inventory/food sourcing|
|Back Office/Business Management||Staff Training and Development||Different stations/food styles|
|Food and Beverage Management||Restaurant Business Areas||Menu planning|
For questions about other types of tasks, please contact InterExchange.
Prohibited training tasks or positions
|Hotel/Hospitality Management||All Areas|
|Bussing Tables||Running Food|
|Night audit or any training that occurs in the overnight hours|
As part of an overall management training, participants may briefly train in hosting, waiting tables, food preparation, etc. to learn basic skills needed to pursue management-level training within a department. However, the combination of such basic tasks may NOT exceed 20% of the entire training program. For culinary participants, food preparation may constitute a larger percentage of their program but only for high-skill tasks contributing to their training.
Host employers who require wait staff, housekeepers, bellhops, short order cooks, etc., are encouraged to learn more about our InterExchange Work & Travel USA program.
Won’t it be expensive to hire an international intern or trainee?
The program is very affordable. There are no program, visa, or placement fees for employers to host an international intern or trainee. If you are an employer with fewer than 25 employees and less than three million dollars in annual revenue, we are required by program regulations to perform a site visit at your organization prior to approving you as an employer. There is a one-time fee of $250 to perform a site visit. If your company is approved and you successfully host an intern/trainee through the program, no additional visits or fees will be required.
How do I know if my company is eligible to participate in the program?
Read the host employer requirements on our website.
Does InterExchange Career Training USA specialize in certain industries?
Yes. We sponsor interns and trainees in a variety of fields that fall under the following categories: Arts & Culture; Information Media and Communications; Management, Business, Commerce and Finance; Public Administration and Law; The Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics and Industrial Occupations; Hospitality and Tourism. Please review our full list of sponsored fields for more details.
What is required for the Training/Internship Placement Plan (DS-7002)?
The plan should include a detailed outline of exactly what the internship/training program involves, including specific departmental rotations and/or program phases. There should be a rotation or phase for every 3-4 months of training, and a new page should be included in the training plan for each rotation/phase. Please see our Guide to Developing a Successful Training Program.
What is the purpose of the program?
The primary objectives of InterExchange Career Training USA are to enhance the skills and expertise of exchange visitors in their academic or occupational fields through structured and guided programs that improve participants’ knowledge of American techniques, methodologies, and technology. Participation in our Career Training USA program must not be used as a substitute for ordinary employment or work purposes nor may it be used to displace American workers. Internship programs are work-based learning opportunities in an intern’s or recent graduate’s academic field that enable the intern to develop practical skills that will enhance his or her future career and bridge the gap between formal education and practical work experience. Trainee programs include bona-fide training and are not simply additional work experience.
The program increases international participants’ understanding of American culture, while also enhancing Americans’ knowledge of foreign cultures, customs and practices. Through this program, the U.S. Government builds partnerships, promotes mutual understanding, and develops relationships and extended networks that will last through generations as participants move into leadership roles in a broad range of occupational fields in their home countries.
About Interns & Trainees
What’s the difference between an intern and a trainee?
The main difference between interns and trainees is their education and experience. Interns must be current students or recent graduates of a post-secondary academic institution outside the U.S. that grants degrees or professional certificates. If they’ve completed their studies, they must start the internship program within one year of graduating. Interns are permitted to intern in the U.S. for up to 12 months, and their field of training must be related to their field of study.
Trainees must have earned a degree or professional certificate from an overseas post-secondary academic institution and have at least one year of related professional experience acquired outside the U.S. Alternatively, if they do not have a degree or certificate, they must have at least five years of related professional experience acquired outside the U.S. Trainees are permitted to train in the US for up to 18 months, unless they are participating in a Hospitality/Tourism program, which cannot exceed 12 months. Their field of training must be related their professional experience but not necessarily to their degree.
When can interns and trainees start their programs?
Interns and trainees may begin any day of the year.
How long can they stay at my company?
Interns can stay for up to 12 months. Trainees can stay for up to 18 months, except for Hospitality and Tourism Trainees, who may only stay for a maximum of 12 months.
From which countries can I recruit interns and trainees?
We can provide visa sponsorship for applicants from any country in the world, provided the candidate meets program requirements.
I need to hire permanent staff. Can I hire an intern or trainee?
If you are looking to fill a permanent position within your company, InterExchange Career Training USA cannot assist with that process. We are designated to issue the Intern/Trainee J-1 Visa, which is a temporary exchange visitor visa designated for the purposes of training—not for regular employment. For more information regarding work visas, please visit www.uscis.gov.
Can interns and trainees have more than one job?
No, per the J-1 Visa regulations, interns and trainees are not allowed to have second jobs. If hired by you, they will only be permitted to intern or train for you.
Compensation & Taxes
Should I pay my intern or trainee?
Trainees must be paid at least minimum wage. Interns must be paid minimum wage if their program will be longer than 6 months, or if it does not meet the Department of Labor’s six criteria for an unpaid internship (for programs of any length). Salary should be determined with each participant prior to his or her arrival in the U.S. Please note that an intern or trainee is required to train full time and is not permitted to have a second job, so the position in your company will be the person's only sole source of income.
Do interns and trainees have Social Security numbers?
If interns or trainees have previously participated in the J-1 Work & Travel, Camp, or H-2B programs, they will have a Social Security number and card already. If this is their first time working in the U.S., they must apply at your local office for a card. They will receive a receipt that shows that they have applied for a Social Security card, which should arrive within 6 weeks.
Am I required to provide housing for my intern or trainee?
No. Interns and trainees are responsible for locating and paying for their own housing, though providing recommendations for affordable neighborhoods, helpful websites or newspapers will be appreciated by your intern or trainee. You may provide housing, though, if you are able to do so. Positions that provide housing are often more attractive to a wider range of candidates.
Am I required to pay transportation costs?
No. Interns and trainees are able to arrange their own transportation independently, though you may offer assistance if you wish.
Do I have to provide health insurance?
Interns and trainees receive accident and sickness insurance as part of their program fee. You may add them to your health insurance plan so they can seek general care in addition to emergency care, but they must retain their approved accident and sickness insurance as well, as it provides some required benefits mandated by the U.S. State Department that normal health insurance plans do not.
Are interns and trainees required to pay taxes?
Participants on a J-1 Visa are considered non-resident aliens. They should not have Social Security (FICA), Medicare or federal unemployment (FUTA) taxes withheld. Please consult a tax professional to find out if participants are exempt from state unemployment taxes in your state. For more detailed tax information, please review these resources from the IRS or on our website.
Support During the Program
What level of support does InterExchange Career Training USA offer throughout the program?
What if I want to hire additional interns and trainees for my company?
What do I do if I am not satisfied with my intern or trainee?
If you feel that an intern or trainee is not meeting your expectations, we ask that you first talk to the intern and make your expectations known. We have found that a frank discussion about performance often solves the problem. Career Training USA is also available to talk to the intern or trainee. If the situation does not improve and you need to terminate the intern or trainee, please call InterExchange Career Training USA at 1.888.621.1202 so that we can assist the intern or trainee with any questions regarding his or her status. Please refer to our Employer Handbook as an additional resource for any questions you may have.