Compensation should be discussed with your participant upon their acceptance of your internship offer, and all compensation should be documented within the InterExchange application. The minimum pay requirements for both interns and trainees are listed below.
- Internships may either be paid or unpaid.
- InterExchange does not permit unpaid programs that *exceed 6-months in program length.
- Shorter programs must meet the Department of Labor’s test for unpaid internships.
- If the program you will be offering does not meet this Department of Labor test, participants must be paid at least the amount required for similar employees under federal, state, and local minimum wage laws.
- Regardless of program length, InterExchange requires that all trainees must be paid at least minimum wage according to federal, state, and local laws.
If minimum wages rise during the participant’s program, they must receive at least the new minimum wage amount as soon as new laws go into effect.
The compensation you indicated on the training plan (DS-7002) is the amount you must guarantee your intern/trainee during the program. If you are paying your J-1 participants minimum wage and the minimum wage rises during their program, they must receive at least the new minimum wage amount as soon as new laws go into effect.
You may also provide non-monetary compensation such as housing, transportation and/or meals as part of the participant’s overall compensation package. The value of any benefits such as these should be calculated on a monthly basis and documented within the participant’s application and DS-7002 Form.
If you will be asking the participant to pay a portion of provided housing or transportation, these charges should be billed to the participant rather than deducted from the participant’s paycheck.
Any deductions from compensation that are withheld must be made in accordance with labor laws, and participants must be notified at the time of internship/training program offer and indicate that they agree to accept the deductions. Please also inform InterExchange of any planned deductions.
If you are unable to offer housing but wish to offer some assistance to your intern/trainee, please review our housing guide. We generally recommend that participants secure temporary housing in a hostel or hotel so that they can look for permanent housing after they have arrived in the U.S. Any recommendations or assistance you can provide to help facilitate this process will allow the participant to acclimate to life in the U.S. much more quickly.
- All J-1 Interns/Trainees are required to train a minimum of 32 hours per week, and they should train no more than 45 hours per week.
- It is expected that on a general basis participants should be training the number of hours listed on their training plan. However, if a participant does occasionally do overtime hours, they should be compensated appropriately according to federal, state, and local laws for overtime pay.
IMPORTANT: Please remember that this is a cultural exchange program. Participants should not be doing regular overtime as this indicates they are being used for regular employment and does not align with the purpose of the program. Misuse of the program in such a way is considered visa fraud.
Under no circumstances are participants permitted to seek additional employment while in the U.S.
Please do not encourage the participant to seek a second job to supplement his or her income. Working anywhere else besides your organization is strictly prohibited and is a very serious violation of the terms of the visa. The participant’s program will be terminated and he or she may not be allowed to return to the U.S. in the future if he or she violates this rule.
If the participant is having difficulty supporting him or herself financially throughout the program, you may wish to offer additional compensation. Otherwise the participant may need to withdraw from the program.
In some cases, you may wish to offer the participant a raise or provide them with more advanced training if you feel that he or she has exceeded expectations. This is up to you to decide, but any changes must be in line with the original program goals and objectives.
- In the event that you would like to add new responsibilities to the internship or training plan, InterExchange must first approve these responsibilities and the DS-7002 Form (Training Plan) will need to be updated.
The participant must also agree to the changes. Remember, though, this is a training program and should not be used as a substitute for ordinary employment. Any advanced training offered should be for the benefit of the intern/trainee because they have demonstrated an ability to meet their tasks and objectives sooner than anticipated—it should not be offered to enable you to fill a labor need or serve as ordinary work.
Before the participant arrives, you should discuss issues such as overtime, vacation time, sick time, and paid holidays so that the participant will understand how these things may affect his or her pay, if applicable. This type of information isn’t included on the DS-7002 Form, so it is highly recommended that you discuss this in advance and put this information in an official offer letter.
Please keep in mind, though, that this is first and foremost a cultural exchange program. It is important to be fair to the participant with regard to offering vacation and sick time so that he or she will have some time to experience life in the U.S. without having to worry about being penalized financially. Some paid vacation time, even if you are paying the participant hourly, should be offered to the participant so that the cultural exchange objectives of the program can be met both inside and outside the workplace.
NOTE: It is not necessary for employers to offer participants health insurance, as all InterExchange participants receive accident and sickness insurance that exceeds U.S. Department of State requirements. If you wish to offer more comprehensive health coverage, you are welcome to do so, but the participant may not decline the coverage already provided through InterExchange as included in the program fee.