Internships may either be paid or unpaid. Unpaid programs may not exceed six months in program length, and shorter programs will only be considered on a case-by-case basis. For any unpaid programs, please ensure that the internship/training program you are offering meets the Department of Labor’s six criteria for unpaid internships. Trainees must always be paid at least minimum wage.
The stipend you listed on the training plan (DS-7002) is the amount you must guarantee your intern/trainee during his or her program. It is strongly recommended that any amount paid is equal to or more than the minimum or prevailing wage in your area. If you have been approved to participate in our program but do not meet the Department of Labor criteria for hosting an unpaid internship, you must pay at least the minimum wage. You may also offer to cover housing, transportation and/or meals as part of the participant’s overall compensation package. Any benefits such as these that cannot be documented on the DS-7002 Form should be put into a written agreement with the participant to eliminate any miscommunication. Deductions from compensation must be made in accordance with labor laws.
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.
If the participant is unable to support him or herself financially throughout the program, you may wish to offer additional compensation or the participant will need to withdraw from the program.
Important: 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.
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. 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 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.
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