Frequently Asked Questions

What is the J-1 Visa?

The J-1 Visa is a non-immigrant, cultural-exchange visa issued through the Exchange Visitor Program. The J-1 Intern Visa allows students and recent graduates to intern at an eligible host organization in the U.S. for one to twelve months.

Your students from past years who have gained relevant work experience may also be eligible to train in the U.S. for up to eighteen months on a Trainee visa

The J-1 Visa is different from an ESTA waiver as the J-1 program allows participants to legally intern or train with a host organization, receive payment, and apply for a social security number. ESTA holders are not permitted to participate in internships of any kind.

How can InterExchange help my students?

Per U.S. Department of State Regulations, all J-1 participants are required to obtain a J-1 Visa sponsor in order to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program. As a designated visa sponsor, InterExchange screens and selects applicants and their host organizations for participation in the Exchange Visitor Program. We also support and monitor exchange visitors throughout their stay in the United States.

Who is eligible for the J-1 Intern Visa?

The intern program is open to students who are currently enrolled full-time and actively pursuing studies at a foreign ministerially-recognized degree, or certificate-granting, post-secondary academic institution outside the U.S.

The program is also open to students who graduated from such institutions less than 12 months before the start of the internship in the U.S.

J-1 Interns must pursue an internship that is related to their academic field of study. These additional eligibility requirements also apply.

Can any other former students or alumni participate?

Yes, former students or alumni who have graduated more than one year prior to the start of their program may be eligible for the J-1 Trainee Visa if they have one year of full-time, post-graduate professional work experience outside the United States related to the field of training.

J-1 Trainees must pursue a training program that is related to their professional work experience field. These additional eligibility requirements also apply.

Are there requirements for host organizations?

Yes, all interested employers must meet the eligibility criteria.

Can InterExchange find internships for my students?

We do not offer placement services. Instead, InterExchange Career Training USA focuses on ensuring that interns will train with companies and supervisors that best meet the educational background of the intern and will provide a high-caliber training environment. Because we do not place participants, our team can critically review training plans without bias and remain impartial in rare occasions when conflicts arise between hosts and interns.

However, to assist in initiating the internship process, we offer a wide variety of internship-search resources, including tips on creating an American-style resume and applying and interviewing for internships. To better assist participants, we have also compiled a list of host employers that have successfully hosted Interns/Trainees with InterExchange in the past. We are happy to share these resources with prospective applicants.

What is included in InterExchange Career Training USA’s program fee?

Our program fees include application processing (including a thorough review of the host employer, training plan, and participant eligibility), issuance and shipping of J-1 Visa sponsorship documents such as the DS-2019 and DS-7002 Forms, pre-departure materials, and 24-hour emergency support for the duration of the program.

InterExchange’s fee also includes:

  • The $220 SEVIS Fee, paid directly to the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of all participants
  • Accident and sickness insurance for the duration of the program and 30-day grace period at end of program
  • Online orientation for living and adapting to life in the U.S.
  • Extensive U.S. cultural resources, including travel resources and guides for visiting the U.S.
  • Coordinated cultural activities (for participants in select cities)
  • Free U.S. SIM card

How long does the process take?

On average, it takes six to eight weeks to apply for sponsorship and obtain a J-1 Visa. However, processing times can vary depending on individual situations. Applicants should review the application checklist to ensure their application is complete upon initial submission. Once an application is marked complete by our team, the application enters a 10-day review period. During this time, we will carefully review the host organization and training plan. We’ll also contact the candidate to conduct a brief interview over Skype or Google Meet.

For students seeking to minimize the review period, InterExchange has an expedite option. For an additional charge, the full review can be done in just three days!

Are there program deadlines?

There is no deadline for the Career Training USA program. We accept applications on a rolling basis, year-round.

When should my students start an application?

The sooner the better! While we realize this is not always possible, we recommend that students start their application at least two to three months before their internship start date. Students can avoid many pre-departure anxieties and issues by starting the process well in advance of their intended departure.

U.S. government regulations require that all participants in the Exchange Visitor Program have a State Department-designated sponsor. In addition to screening participants, sponsors monitor participants’ health and safety, support participants who may have questions or concerns, and check in with participants regularly to ensure their internships in the U.S. are going smoothly.

There are many sponsors to choose from. What is different about InterExchange?

InterExchange prides itself on keeping costs low and reviewing applications as quickly as possible. However, we don’t sacrifice quality for review time. Our team thoroughly reviews training plans to ensure that interns will receive relevant and adequate training during their time in the United States.

InterExchange Career Training USA takes the skill-acquisition of participants seriously. We have instituted host employer requirements above the minimum standard set by the State Department. Our Participant Services Coordinator also maintains regular contact with participants throughout the program to ensure they learn as much as possible from their experience.

How can I share information about InterExchange with my students?

We know there are a lot of questions about the J-1 Visa process, and our resources might not cover every individual situation. However, we take time with each participant to answer questions before, during, and after the application review. Give us a call or send us an email if you or your students have any questions at all.

InterExchange Career Training USA can also organize a webinar or on-campus presentation for any of your students who may be interested in learning more about finding internships in the U.S. and applying for the J-1 Visa.

Please contact our team if you’d like to discuss webinars, campus visits, university or departmental-specific questions, discounts, university accounts, or anything else! We’re happy to learn more about how InterExchange Career Training USA can serve the needs of your students.

Important COVID-19 Information

Career Training USA is currently processing J-1 Intern/Trainee Visa applications. However, COVID-19 has disrupted normal J-1 Visa operations, and we encourage your students to review the following information carefully before proceeding with their application.

  • Travel Bans: Presently, travel to the U.S. is currently prohibited for those traveling from Schengen Countries, Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Participants may not travel to the U.S. if they have been in any of these countries within the 14-day window prior to their arrival in the U.S. J-1 Intern and J-1 Trainee participants do not qualify for a National Interest Exemption to this rule.

  • Visa Appointment Availability: Visa issuance may be limited or entirely unavailable in some countries due to travel bans or other unique in-country conditions. Emergency appointments are sometimes available, but students will need to contact the Embassy/Consulate directly to discuss availability and the procedure and conditions for requesting an emergency appointment. Students should consult the Department of State’s website to learn the approximate Visa wait time for Exchange Visitor Visas appointments in their country of residence.

  • U.S. Land Border: The United State has restricted non-essential travel across the U.S.-Canada land U.S.-Mexico land border. These restrictions will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 21, 2021, but may be extended. Participants traveling from Canada and Mexico should plan to arrive in the U.S. by plane.

  • Pre-Flight COVID Testing: All air travelers to the U.S. must now provide proof of a negative COVID test within 3 days of departure. Participants should factor this into their travel timeline.

  • Visa Sponsorship Documents: InterExchange Career Training USA is not yet issuing DS-2019s and SEVIS numbers for participants from areas where visa service and/or travel remains suspended. Note that if participants request paperwork despite travel bans and limited visa appointment availability, they do so at their own risk and expense. SEVIS and Visa Appointment (DS-160) fees are paid to the U.S. Government and not refundable.

  • Sponsorship Application Processing: Regardless of a country’s visa/travel restrictions, participants may submit a sponsorship application to InterExchange. We will process applications upon receipt and notify participants if their application can be approved. As the program start date must accurately reflect the participant’s plans for travel, we will issue J-1 Visa sponsorship documents when we can confirm that visa issuance in their home country has resumed and that the program dates on their paperwork is accurate.

  • Remote Training: The J-1 Intern/Trainee Visa is intended for in-person training in the U.S.; therefore, we cannot approve any programs that will be fully remote. If a host is unable to offer in-person training five days a week, please have your student contact InterExchange to discuss their program further. Refund Policy: Finally, please note that our standard refund policy remains in effect for all newly submitted applications.

  • Refund Policy: Finally, please note that our standard refund policy remains in effect for all newly submitted applications.

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Can participant apply for a J-1 Visa in another country? Would they be considered for J-1 Visa sponsorship?

We generally do not recommend that participants apply for a visa in another country. Not all countries are accepting appointments from non-residents. Also, embassy policies and restrictions are changing rapidly as COVID evolves, which means participants could potentially travel to another country only to have your appointment delayed or cancelled altogether.

Unfortunately, InterExchange has no control over visa decisions, embassy processes, or travel disruptions. Please note that we also cannot advise on border policies between a participant’s home country and where they choose to apply for a visa. If this is still a route that a student would like to pursue, please keep in mind that they will do so at their own risk.

We highly recommend that students contact the foreign embassy directly to ask the following:

  • Can I schedule an appointment as a non-resident?
  • Is the embassy processing J-1 Visas in the Intern and Trainee categories specifically? (Note that many embassies are NOT processing J-1 Intern/Trainee visas, even though they may be processing other J-1 Visa types).
  • How quickly can I get an appointment?

Additionally, please keep in mind that there is a $160 consulate fee per consulate. We also charge a $75 reprint fee should a student need to change the dates on their DS-2019 Form as a result of embassy delays or appointment cancellations.

Can I apply for my visa in a travel restricted home country and then travel to a third country for two weeks to bypass the travel ban?

Visa issuance may be limited or entirely unavailable in a country due to travel bans or other unique conditions. Emergency appointments are sometimes available, but students will need to contact the Embassy/Consulate directly to discuss availability and the procedure and conditions for requesting an emergency appointment.

Please note that some embassies have accepted appointments from participants only to place the participant’s application in administrative processing until the end of the travel ban. If an application is placed in administrative processing, InterExchange has no control over this timeline. Applicants will have to wait for a visa decision until after the travel ban has been lifted and the embassy has resumed normal operations.

Other applicants were granted a student visa from my local embassy. Isn’t the J-1 visa a student visa?

Many embassies are prioritizing visas for students beginning classes this fall. However, the J-1 Intern and J-1 Trainee Visas do not meet this qualification, as students will not be attending a university.

Do Interns and Trainees qualify for an National Interest Exemption to get a J-1 Visa?

Unfortunately, there are no exceptions for J-1 Intern or Trainee participants. Please be advised that there are 15 different categories of the J-1 Visa. Only certain J-1 categories, such as the J-1 Research Scholar or J-1 Student categories, are being considered for the NIE. Unfortunately, InterExchange does not sponsor these categories.

Do you know when the travel restrictions will be lifted?

Unfortunately, we do not know when each ban will be lifted. Please regularly check the CDC website for up-to-date information regarding the travel restrictions.

Students are free to begin working on their applications. If a student submits an application, InterExchange will review and let the participant and host know if it can be approved. However, we won’t issue visa documents until the ban has been lifted and an applicant’s local embassy resumes issuing Intern and Trainee visas. Please note that once a student submits an application, our full refund policy will apply.

Students are also welcome to wait to submit their application until we receive news on lifting of travel restrictions. If their program dates aren’t flexible, it may be best to wait to begin an application.

What if my student already started an application?

Applicants are free to continue working on their application, but please note that it is unlikely they will be able to arrive in the U.S. to start their program in the near future. If a student submits an application, InterExchange will review and let the participant and host know if it can be approved. However, we won’t issue visa documents until the ban has been lifted and an applicant’s local embassy resumes issuing Intern and Trainee visas. Please note that once a student submits an application, our full refund policy will apply.

Students are also welcome to wait to submit their application until we receive news on lifting of travel restrictions. If their program dates aren’t flexible, we can cancel their application prior to their submission.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation