Participants who have a good experience in the U.S. often want to extend their programs. As long as participants are not currently pursuing the maximum number of months permitted for their program, they may apply to extend their program up to the maximum number (12-month maximum for interns and hospitality trainees; 18 months for all other trainee programs). For example, if a trainee’s original program is six months long, he or she may extend the program for 12 more months to get up to the full 18 months.
Participants should apply directly to InterExchange for an extension no earlier than 60 days and no later than 30 days prior to the original program end date. There is an additional program fee for extensions that must be submitted with the application.
If the extension is approved, InterExchange issues an updated DS-2019, which covers the extension period. This new form should be kept with the original DS-2019, J-1 Visa, and I-94 printout or card. Please note, though, that although a participant’s program is extended, his or her visa expires on the date indicated on the visa itself. If participants leave the country after the visa’s expiration date, they cannot return to the U.S. without re-applying for a visa, even though they have been granted a program extension. The date on the DS-2019 is the date through which the participant is eligible to intern or train, but only a valid visa will permit a participant to enter the U.S.
Participants are only permitted to intern or train between the program begin and end dates indicated on their DS-2019 Form or Extension DS-2019 Form. In addition, all participants may remain in the U.S. for up to 30 days past their program end date (unless otherwise specified on the arrival stamp in the participant’s passport). Many participants use this time to travel within the U.S. or to prepare to travel home. Participants may not continue their internships/training programs during this period and should not travel beyond U.S. borders other than for non-return trips. Once the grace period is in effect, the visa will, in most cases, have expired and participants will not be able to re-enter the U.S.
Once participants return home, we encourage them to share their experiences with other students and young professionals, since one of the best methods of continued program success and advertising is through word of mouth. Some International Cooperators ask past participants to serve as program ambassadors. Past participants could provide quotes or testimonials that you could use in your recruitment materials, or they could speak about their experience at fairs or presentations. Further, sharing one’s experience with others also helps to further the goals of cultural exchange programs, as others can now benefit from the knowledge and experience gained by the participants.
We hope that all of your participants have an enjoyable, educational, and professionally valuable experience in the U.S. As we continue to work together to promote cultural exchange, we look forward to learning more from you and your participants’ experiences. Please feel free to contact InterExchange at any time with questions and concerns or to let us know how we can make your job as an International Cooperator more effective. The U.S. government sees regulations as the foundation to ensure good programs, but looks to sponsors to implement best practices. Although there are many rules and regulations placed on the program by the federal government, InterExchange defines its own application process. Suggestions from you will always be appreciated - you are experiencing this program from a different perspective, so please feel free to share any feedback you feel would benefit you, your fellow International Cooperators, and especially the participants.
As always, we look forward to working with you and your participants.
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