Everything you need to know to successfully live and train in the U.S. as an intern or trainee
Important Program Information
Although we strive to make the application process as simple as possible, there are still a number of important documents that you will need to begin your internship or training program.
Applying With InterExchange
- After Your Program
- How to Leverage Your International Internship in Your Job Search
- Networking: How to Make the Most Out of Your U.S. Experience
- Using LinkedIn for Your Internship or Job Search
- References and Recommendation Letters
- Refer Your Friends
- Intern or Train Again
- Share Your Experience
- Keep in Touch
Frequently Asked Questions
The questions and answers below are designed to help you make your goal of interning in the U.S. a reality. If you have a question that’s not answered here, just call or email us.
General Program Information
What is InterExchange Career Training USA?
InterExchange Career Training USA helps students and young professionals from outside the United States enjoy internships and training programs across the U.S. The program provides participants temporary opportunities to gain international experience in order to advance their careers in their home countries. InterExchange is designated by the U.S. Department of State to provide J-1 Visa sponsorship for international interns and trainees who find their own internships and training opportunities.
What is the purpose of the program?
The primary goal of the InterExchange Career Training USA program is to enhance your skills and expertise in your academic or occupational field and to improve your knowledge of American business techniques, methodologies, and technology. Career Training USA programs cannot be used for ordinary employment or to displace American workers. Internship programs should allow you to develop practical skills in your academic field that will enhance your future career and bridge the gap between your education and practical work experience. Training programs must include bonafide training and not simply be additional work experience.
What are the eligibility requirements for the program?
To find out if you are eligible for the program, first review the participant requirements and take our eligibility quiz.
Can InterExchange Career Training USA help me find an internship? Do you offer placement services?
No. Unfortunately, we cannot find an internship for you. If you have not already found an internship, we encourage you to search for internships using our internship guide.
I found my internship! Are there any requirements my employer must meet?
Yes. Please review our summary of employer requirements.
What is the difference between an Intern and a Trainee?
Review the eligibility requirements to see the difference between Interns and Trainees.
Can I train in a field outside my academic studies or past work experience?
No. Program regulations require that interns and trainees have sufficient past education or work experience related to their proposed internship or training field in order to successfully complete their program.
How long can I stay in the U.S.?
The maximum duration is 12 months for the J-1 Intern Visa and 18 months for the J-1 Trainee Visa. Hospitality/Tourism programs are limited to 12 months for both Interns and Trainees, as per the program regulations.
Can I use ESTA instead of a J-1 Visa?
No. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is for visitors who are traveling to the U.S. for tourism purposes only under the Visa Waiver Program. Per the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, “ESTA is not a visa. It does not meet the legal requirements to serve in lieu of a U.S. visa when a visa is required.”
Even if your internship is unpaid and/or short term, such as under 90 days, you will always need to apply for a J-1 Visa with a designated U.S. sponsor organization. You may be denied entry at the border if you attempt to enter the U.S. on ESTA in order to do an internship. Aside from being a legal requirement, there are several other advantages to applying for the J-1 Intern/Trainee Visa with a visa sponsor like InterExchange.
Do I need insurance?
Yes. Accident and sickness insurance is included in your program fee and is required for all participants. This insurance meets all U.S. Department of State requirements and will cover you through your 30-day grace period at the end of your program.
Can I bring my dependents (spouse and children) to the U.S.?
Yes. Your spouse and/or dependent children may accompany you for the duration of your program on a J-2 Visa (also sponsored through InterExchange Career Training USA). Please complete the dependent information section in the application and upload the required dependent documents.
Do my dependents need insurance?
Yes. Please include the appropriate insurance payment (see the Miscellaneous Fees section) when applying. Independent insurance coverage may not be used in place of the InterExchange-arranged insurance.
How much funding do I need to provide if I bring dependents?
The J-1 Visa holder will need to consider all costs associated with bringing J-2 dependents to the U.S. Please keep in mind that there is no guarantee a J-2 dependent will receive work authorization. Therefore, the J-1 Visa holder must prove they can support all J-2 dependents independently without needing to rely on additional income from a J-2 dependent. Please contact us directly to discuss the recommended proof of funds amount for your particular situation, as it may vary based on location, number of dependents, and whether you intend to bring dependents under the age of 18.
Previous U.S. Experience
I’ve spent time in the U.S. in the past. Am I eligible for this program?
Past experience in the United States does not automatically disqualify you from program participation. However, as this is a cultural exchange program, applicants with significant recent experience working or studying in the U.S. may be ineligible. Contact us to discuss your situation directly.
I am already in the U.S. Can I apply?
No. You must return home to apply to the Intern/Trainee program. If you require a change of status from another visa to the J-1 Visa, InterExchange will not be able to assist you.
I am currently participating on another J-1 Visa program (Work & Travel, Au Pair, etc). Can I apply to be an Intern or Trainee?
You may apply to the Intern or Trainee program, but you must first return to your home country. The Intern/Trainee program may not function as an extension of your current J-1 program.
Please note that InterExchange does not generally approve applications in which participants will be returning to their Work & Travel employers. Also, in order to qualify for a trainee program, your one year of related professional work experience should be more recent than your time in the United States as an au pair. Make sure you remain eligible for the intern/trainee program by reviewing the participant requirements, and contact our office if you have any questions about whether you are eligible.
I have already done an Intern/Trainee program. Can I do the program again?
Yes. It is possible to do another internship program as long as you are still a current student or within one year of graduation. However, we require that you return to your home country to complete a semester of school before applying for another internship.
In most cases, you are not permitted to return to the same host employer. Additional internships and training programs must expose you to new skills, tasks and responsibilities, while still providing you with a training opportunity.
You may also repeat the Trainee program. However, if you have previously completed a J-1 internship or training program, you must leave the U.S. for a period of two years before you will be eligible for another Trainee program in the U.S. This is required of all participants, and it applies specifically to those applying for an additional Trainee visa – not other visa types or categories. It is also not related to the Rule 212(e), also known as the two-year home residency requirement.
I received my degree from inside the U.S. Do I qualify for the program?
To be eligible for the program, the regulations state that your degree must be earned from a post-secondary academic institution outside of the U.S. Therefore, your U.S. degree does not qualify you for the program.
If you are currently pursuing a degree at a U.S. institution, you may be able to pursue practical training after graduation as part of your current academic visa. Visit an international student advisor at your school to learn more about your options.
If you are not pursuing a degree and are only an exchange student at a U.S. institution for a semester or a year, you may qualify for the J-1 Intern or Trainee visa. Contact us to discuss your situation further before applying.
My work experience was in the U.S. Do I qualify for the trainee program?
Per the regulations for the program, only experience earned outside the U.S. is counted towards your eligibility. Therefore, you must first earn sufficient work experience outside the U.S. in order to be eligible.
J-1 Visa & Documents
What is a J-1 Visa?
The J-1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa issued through the BridgeUSA Program. There are 15 J-1 Visa categories, and InterExchange Career Training USA offers the “Intern” and “Trainee” categories.
Once approved for J-1 Visa sponsorship by InterExchange, all Career Training USA participants, except Canadian citizens, will be required to interview at a U.S. embassy/consulate in order to be granted a J-1 Visa.
What is a DS-2019 Form?
In order to apply for a J-1 Intern/Trainee Visa, an applicant must first be approved for sponsorship and issued a DS-2019 Form, which is a U.S. Government document certifying your eligibility for the J-1 Intern/Trainee visa.
Can InterExchange issue a J-1 Visa?
No. Upon approving an application, InterExchange will issue a DS-2019 Form, or Certificate of Eligibility. You will need a DS-2019 Form when you go to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate to apply for the J-1 Visa. We sponsor the visa, but we cannot issue it.
Final visa decisions on approval/denial of a J-1 Visa are made by consular officials. If approved, the U.S. Embassy/Consulate will place the J-1 Visa sticker in your passport. Your visa and your DS-2019 Form, will allow you to enter the U.S. to begin your intern/trainee program.
How do I find a visa sponsor?
InterExchange can sponsor your J-1 Visa! Make sure to also confirm that you meet our program requirements.
What is SEVIS?
SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System managed by the Department of Homeland Security. All Interns/Trainees must be registered in the SEVIS database, which InterExchange will do if you are approved for sponsorship. You will receive a SEVIS ID number in your acceptance packet, and you will also be contacted regularly throughout your Intern/Trainee program to confirm your details in SEVIS are still accurate.
What is the SEVIS fee?
All participants must pay the $220 SEVIS fee prior to your visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy. This fee is included in your program fee, and InterExchange will pay it for you. This fee goes to the Department of Homeland Security, not to InterExchange. Once approved for sponsorship, InterExchange will send directions on how to access and print your SEVIS fee payment receipt.
What is a DS-160?
Once you receive your DS-2019 Form and SEVIS ID number, you’ll need to complete a DS-160 visa application. This form must be submitted electronically to the Department of State before you are able to schedule a visa interview. U.S. Embassies and Consulates use the information entered on the DS-160, as well as an in-person interview, to determine your eligibility for a visa. Check out our guide on how to complete the DS-160 and submit your J-1 Visa application.
What is the MRV fee?
The MRV fee is the J-1 Visa application fee. This is paid directly to the Embassy/Consulate and must be paid at the time you schedule your visa appointment. The fee for J-1 Interns and Trainees is currently $160 (NOTE: This fee will increase to $185 effective May 30, 2023).
How do I make an appointment to get a visa?
After completing your DS-160, follow your Embassy or Consulate’s online instructions for making a nonimmigrant visa appointment. Be sure to check the website at the Embassy/Consulate where you will be applying, as requirements may vary from country to country.
How should I prepare for my visa appointment?
Use our tips on preparing for your embassy/consulate interview.
I am a Canadian citizen. Do I need to attend an Embassy/Consulate interview to apply for a J-1 Visa?
No. Canadian citizens are exempt from an Embassy/Consulate visit and will not need a J-1 Visa to cross the border into the U.S. The DS-2019 Form, however, must be presented and stamped at the border, along with your SEVIS fee payment receipt.
Do I need to renew my J-1 Visa?
Only if your visa expires before the end date on your DS-2019 Form and you plan to travel internationally. Typically, the end date of the DS-2019 Form and J-1 are the same, but not always. If you plan to travel internationally after your visa expires but before the end of your program, then you must apply for a new J-1 Visa. The application process for applying for a new J-1 Visa will be the same as when you originally received a J-1 Visa from the embassy/consulate
What is an I-94 record?
The I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) is used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to track your arrival in and departure from the U.S. You will receive an electronic I-94 record upon entering the U.S. by air or sea. We recommend you access and print your electronic arrival record by visiting the CBP site.
Visitors coming to the U.S. through a land border (most common with Canadian or Mexican participants) will receive a paper I-94 record from the CBP officer at the port of entry. Those receiving a paper I-94 will be asked to give the card back when they leave the U.S.
Please note the date indicated on your I-94. This is the date by which you must leave the U.S. If it is marked “D/S”, that means you may remain in the U.S. for the duration of your status (the end date of your program, plus your 30-day grace period).
The I-94 website says there is no record found for me. What should I do?
If the I-94 website says your record is not found, try these tips:
- Do not use dashes or titles
- Enter your first and last name the same way it appears on your passport
- Enter the passport number that appears on the upper right hand side of your passport
- Enter your country of citizenship (country that issued the passport, not where you currently live)
- If you entered your first and middle name and it is not found, try one name or the other. Also try entering your first and middle name in the first name box.
- If you’re still not able to locate your I-94, please contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Traveler Communications Center (TCC) by clicking on the “Ask Us A Question” tab. Select the correct topic for your issue as well as any related issues. They will attempt to respond to you within 72 hours.
I lost my I-94 card. What do I do?
If you entered the U.S. through a land border and were given a paper I-94, please hold on to it. If you have lost your I-94 card, you can apply for a new one on the CBP website. Please note that you will have to pay for a new I-94 card, so it is a good idea to staple it to one of your passport pages. Anyone who entered the U.S. by air or sea will have an electronic I-94 which can be downloaded from the CBP website.
Application Process & Participant Qualifications
How do I apply?
InterExchange strives to make the application process as simple as possible, while adhering to U.S. government requirements. Please review our application process.
When should I begin my application?
We recommend that you begin your application six to eight weeks before your intended start date. This allows sufficient time for you host employer to develop your training plan and for you to schedule a visa appointment. Please note that wait times for visa appointments can be longer than average during the summer months, so make sure to plan accordingly.
How long does the application process take?
Our review time is approximately 10 days once we receive both a complete application and full payment. We cannot review your application until all documents and payment have been submitted. If your employer requires a site visit, the review process may take longer. See the Host Employer Requirements for more information about site visits.
Please review our full application processing timeline.
Can you expedite the review of my application?
InterExchange Career Training USA offers expedited application review, which will be completed within three full business days once the application is complete and In Queue for formal review. This service is offered for an additional fee.
All other applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are not requesting expedited review, we suggest you submit your complete application to InterExchange at least eight weeks prior to your intended start date to allow sufficient time for application processing, your visa appointment, and travel.
I can’t submit all of my documents right now. Can InterExchange still approve my application?
In order to process an application, all information must be included. We cannot begin reviewing your application without all required documentation, so it is best to wait until your application is complete and submit all the materials at the same time.
What are the reasons an application might be rejected?
Each application is considered on a case-by-case basis, and we may reject any application that we feel does not meet our interpretation of the program rules and regulations.
The most common reasons for rejecting an application include the following:
- Applicant does not have the required education or experience to meet eligibility requirements.
- The proposed internship/training program is for unskilled labor. If you are intending to perform unskilled or manual labor (waiting tables, housekeeping, etc.) our Work and Travel program may be better suited for you.
- The host employer does not meet the program requirements.
- The proposed internship/training program is not related to the applicant’s field of study or occupational experience. Interns’ programs must be related to their academic field of study, and Trainees’ programs must be related to their occupational background.
- The proposed program is not in a field InterExchange is able to sponsor. Our general categories for sponsorship are as follows: Hospitality and Tourism; Information Media & Communications; Management, Business, Commerce, and Finance; Public Administration & Law; the Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics, and Industrial Occupations; and Arts & Culture. If you are unsure whether your field is eligible, please contact us.
- Applicant is currently in the U.S. or requesting a change of status to the J-1.
- Applicant has spent a considerable amount of time in the U.S., such as a recently completed degree and/or optional practical training within the U.S.
Is my employer required to pay me?
All Interns whose programs are longer than six months and all Trainees, regardless of program length, must be paid at least the local, state, or federal minimum wage, depending on which is highest.
Intern programs of six months or less may be paid or unpaid. All unpaid internships will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and must meet the Department of Labor’s test for unpaid internships. You will also need to ensure that you will have sufficient funds to support yourself in the U.S., as program regulations prohibit you from working at any location other than the host employer listed on your DS-2019 Form.
Any pay or benefits should be arranged between you and your host company during the application process and reported to InterExchange in the DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan.
My host says I’ll get tips/bonuses/free housing so my stipend will be less than minimum wage. Is this ok?
If you will be a trainee or an intern on a program longer than six months, you are required to receive at least minimum wage as part of your regular stipend, regardless of any non-monetary compensation (e.g., housing, meals, transportation, etc.), tips, or bonuses you will be receiving.
Please note that since this is a training program and not ordinary employment, any commission-based training is prohibited, as are performance-based bonuses.
I am starting university next month. Can I apply as an intern?
Not yet. You must already be pursuing studies full-time at a university outside the U.S. You will be eligible to begin an internship once you have completed at least one year of your degree program and have taken courses in your chosen academic field.
I am a part-time student. Can I apply as an intern?
No. You must be a full-time student currently pursuing studies at a university outside the U.S.
How do I prove I have the requisite work experience for the Trainee visa?
You must submit employment verification letters that show you have earned the appropriate number of years of related professional work experience. These letters must be from employers outside the U.S. and meet the criteria listed on our required documents page. View a sample employment verification letter or provide your former employer our employment verification letter template.
My documents aren’t in English. Can I submit them as they are?
No. All of your documents must be in English. If your school or bank will not issue an English-language document, then you must have the original document translated into English by an official translator. Submit both the original document and the official translation with your InterExchange application.
How much money does my proof of funds document need to show?
All of your sources of funding should amount to at least $1500 per month of your program. If you will not be paying for housing, the total should amount to at least $750 per month of your program. To ensure you have enough funds for the duration of your program, research the cost of living in your U.S. host city.
My host employer is paying me. Will you take this into account when reviewing the amount I have for proof of funds?
We do typically take stipend amounts into account when reviewing proof of funds documents. However, we still need to see that you have sufficient funds to get settled into the U.S. at the beginning of your program before you receive your first paycheck.
Online Application Troubleshotting
Why didn’t my Host Employer receive the application invitation email?
First, confirm that the email was sent to the correct email address. If it is correct, have your host employer go to app.interexchange.org. They should click on “Forgot Password” and they will receive an email which will allow them to log in and set up a new password. Ask all users to add [email protected] to their address books to ensure email delivery.
My employer is trying to access the invitation to the online application via email but they receive an “invitation token is invalid” error. What should they do?
Usually this means your employer is attempting to login using the activation link again rather than the link to the application itself. Please have your employer use this link: app.interexchange.org. If they have already activated their account but cannot remember their password, they can click “Forgot Password” and enter their email address. After they enter their email, they will receive an email from [email protected] with password reset instructions.
What are your system requirements for the online application?
The online application is compatible with Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari web browsers. For the best performance, we suggest using the most recent version of Google Chrome. Document Upload Requirements: Maximum file size is 10MB. File types accepted are PDF, PNG, and JPG ONLY.
What if my Host Employer Supervisor is not authorized to sign the program agreement on the online application?
Ask your supervisor to share the application with a colleague who IS authorized. When the supervisor is logged in to their account, they will see a box on the right side of the page that says “Invite Colleagues.” This will allow them to invite a colleague to join the account, where they can complete, review, edit, or submit an e-signed application on behalf of the host company.
How do I find housing in the U.S?
We recommend booking a hostel, hotel, or Airbnb for your first few days in the U.S. so that you are able to search for housing in person. Check out our housing guide for tips on how to obtain housing in the U.S., and take our Housing Checklist with you when visiting potential residences.
What is the estimated cost of renting an apartment?
Housing costs vary greatly throughout the U.S. Generally, it is more expensive to live in highly-populated urban areas, like New York or San Francisco, and less expensive to reside in suburban or rural regions. Ask your employer what the average cost of housing might be in the area, and check out online listings in the area to get a sense of the average costs.
How long does it take to secure housing?
This, too, will depend on where you are living and when you start looking. In large cities like New York, there are usually more housing options but also more competition, which can make your search more challenging. Smaller cities may have fewer options but without the competition, so your search may be quicker. Arrange short-term housing before your program so that you can look for something long-term after you arrive.
Do I have to start searching while still in my home country?
While it’s best to look for housing in person after you arrive, we do highly recommend doing some preliminary research beforehand. It is helpful to research your host city so that you understand the typical price range, your ideal neighborhood, transportation options, etc. Start by asking your host employer for tips on searching for housing in the local area.
Does it matter that I will only be in the U.S. temporarily?
No, as long as you make this clear to your landlord. Do not sign a 12-month lease on an apartment if you only plan to be here for nine months. You will be required to pay for the entire year even if you don’t stay the whole time.
If you will be in the U.S. for a shorter program, you may want to consider subletting a room in a shared apartment. Subletting is when you take over an apartment lease from a tenant who leaves for a few months or longer. You assume the responsibilities of paying rent and bills and the original tenant assumes all responsibilities under the lease.
What safety precautions should I take when searching for housing?
Use the same caution you would when searching for housing in your home country. Be sure you know what the neighborhood is like at night and the nearby transportation options. You should also carefully investigate any housing options you find online.
Housing scams are common. Never wire money to a person you have never met for housing you haven’t seen in person. The best way to avoid a housing scam is to book temporary housing for your first few days in the U.S. so that you can look for housing in person.
Which documents will be required when I sign a lease or contract?
This will vary depending on the type of housing. Typical documents you may be asked for include: photo identification, proof of income, credit history, housing history, and the signature of a guarantor.
What is a security deposit?
Most landlords will require you to pay a security deposit upon moving in. This insures the landlord against any housing damage from your residency. The security deposit is usually equal to one month of rent. You are entitled to a refund of this amount at the end of your lease if you leave your housing in the same condition as when you moved in.
Do I have to live with a roommate?
No. For both personal and financial reasons, many participants find it beneficial, but the choice is yours.
Are apartments furnished?
Generally, apartments are not furnished. However, there are ways to find furnished housing. Sublets are often furnished, and if you’re living on a university campus, rooms will be furnished. This will always be specified within the details of the listing. If it is not, be sure to ask.
Is internet/cable provided?
Unless you are staying in university housing, internet and cable are generally not provided. If you sublet an apartment, these amenities may already be in place, but you should find out if this will be an additional monthly cost for you.
Will my employer help me find housing?
It depends on the employer. Most will be able to make suggestions and answer questions about the local area, but they probably cannot actually find or offer you a place to live. Don’t hesitate to ask your employer questions about housing in the area, the general costs, or other local resources they can recommend.
What if I don’t like my housing?
You can change your living situation at will, but depending on what kind of lease or contract you signed, you may have to pay for the unoccupied apartment for the time you were supposed to be living there. This is one reason we suggest finding short-term housing at the beginning of your program and then conducting a thorough search after you arrive.
Information for Current Participants
Can I arrive before my program begins?
Yes, you may arrive up to 30 days before your program start date. However, if you arrive more than seven days before your intended program start date you’ll need to submit an early arrival insurance payment.
I just arrived in the U.S. Is there anything I need to do?
Yes! Complete this arrival form within ten days. You may also email us or contact us by phone at 1-(888)-621-1202 to let us know that you’ve arrived and provide us with your U.S. contact information. Upon receipt of your arrival form, we will activate your SEVIS record. It is very important that you let us know you’ve arrived in the U.S. If you do not contact us, you will go into ‘No Show’ status, and your program will be cancelled.
After you arrive in the U.S., InterExchange will order your insurance, and you will receive an email from [email protected] with your insurance ID card. Be sure to check your junk/spam folder if you don’t receive an email within a week of notifying us of your arrival.
How do I get a Social Security Number?
To apply for a first-time Social Security card, you will need to apply in-person at a local Social Security office. You may be eligible to begin the application online and then bring any required documents to your local office to complete the application.
You can find detailed instructions on how to apply for a Social Security Number in the Participant Handbook. Please refer to the Social Security Administration website for more information.
I am moving to a new address. Is there anything I need to do?
You must notify InterExchange within ten days of any change of address so that your SEVIS record can be updated.
My supervisor changed at my internship/training program. What should I do?
Please inform InterExchange immediately via email or phone. InterExchange will need to know the name, job title, phone number, and email of your new supervisor. Your new supervisor will also need to sign your DS-7002 Form through our online system.
It’s been 30 days, but I haven’t received my monthly check-in form. Is there a problem?
The check-in email is sent out on Wednesdays, so sometimes you may receive the email a day or two after 30 days have passed. As long as you submit the check-in form whenever you receive the check-in email then all will be well.
What do I do if I am sick?
Search for a doctor on the insurance company’s website and make an appointment. Be sure to present your insurance ID card at the doctor’s office. Please visit our insurance information page for more details on using your insurance.
What do I do if I lose my DS-2019 Form?
Please notify InterExchange immediately. Your DS-2019 Form authorizes you to intern/train in the U.S., so it is very important that you keep this document safe.
What do I need to do if I want to travel outside the U.S. during my program?
You must receive a travel validation signature from InterExchange before departing the U.S. Please submit your request for travel validation at least one week before your intended travel date. Review our tips on travel during your program. NOTE: You may not be away from your internship/training program for more than 30 days. If you do not return to your host employer on or before the 30th day after your last day in the office, you will no longer be actively pursuing your program, and your program will be ended in SEVIS.
Do I need a travel validation for trips within the U.S.?
You do not need to have your DS-2019 Form signed for travel within the United States, but we do recommend that you keep your visa documents with you and secured while you are traveling.
What do I do if I have problems with insurance, housing, my host employer, etc. during my program?
Contact InterExchange! We are here to help and need to be notified if you experience any issues or have any concerns during your program. You can also read more about some of the difficulties you may encounter during your program and how to resolve them.
What do I do if I’m arrested, detained by immigration officials, seriously injured, or have any other emergency?
Please contact InterExchange Career Training USA immediately. The toll-free number during business hours is 1-(888)-621-1202. During non-business hours or the weekend, you can contact our emergency line at 1-(917)-373-0994.
All other non-emergency inquiries should be made during normal business hours to our toll-free number listed above.
Can I get another job to earn some extra money during my internship?
No. The J-1 Intern/Trainee regulations prohibit you from pursuing additional employment. The only authorized employment you may perform is an internship or training program at the site of activity indicated on your DS-2019 Form.
I am not happy with my current host employer. Can I switch to another company?
If you are experiencing workplace problems or concerns we recommend that you first discuss the situation with your supervisor and/or InterExchange; problems are often resolved this way. If the problem cannot be resolved, you may be able to change your host company.
First, notify InterExchange Career Training USA by email explaining why such a change is necessary. If we agree that a change of host is reasonable, we will send you the Change of Host Application, which should be completed with your new host employer and submitted to us for review.
If approved, you may begin training with your new host employer. Please note that you are not permitted to begin training with a new host employer until your application has been approved by Career Training USA. If you do so, you will be training at the company illegally and could be subject to program termination.
I would like to return home before completing my program. Is there anything I need to do?
If you decide that you are going to end your program and leave the country early, you must contact InterExchange Career Training USA by phone or email. You must also submit the following information:
- Intern/Trainee Final Evaluations from both you and your employer.
- If you are departing early, please send an email stating that you are ending your program and returning home. This should include:
- Your last day of training at the company
- Your intended date of departure
- The reason for ending the program early
- Please note that you must depart the U.S. within 30 days of your last day of training.
I was fired, but I do not want to return home. Can I stay in the U.S.?
If you were fired, you must contact Career Training USA immediately. Depending on the circumstances of the termination of employment, you may be eligible to apply for a Change of Host Employer. If you are unable to switch host companies, though, you must leave the U.S. within 30 days of the last day you interned/trained at your former host company.
I really like my Internship/Training program, but it is ending soon. Is there any way that I can stay in the U.S. a little longer?
The maximum duration of the Intern program is 12 months and the maximum duration of the Trainee program is 18 months (12 months for Hospitality/Tourism). If your program is shorter than the maximum durations listed above, you may be able to extend your program.
When should I submit my extension application?
You must submit an extension application 30 to 60 days before your program end date.
I was approved for an extension, but my J-1 Visa will expire during my extension period. Is that okay?
It is okay if your visa expires during your extension period if you intend to remain within the U.S. for the full duration of your extension. If you are approved for an extension, InterExchange will send you a new DS-2019 Form for your extension period, and that form will allow you to continue to intern or train. The extension DS-2019 Form is what allows you to legally intern or train in the U.S. The J-1 Visa is what allows you to enter the U.S.
If you plan to travel internationally during your extension period, then you must apply for a new J-1 Visa in order to reenter the U.S., since your original J-1 Visa would have expired. The application process for applying for a new J-1 Visa will be the same as when you originally received a J-1 Visa from the embassy/consulate.
My host employer said they want to hire me permanently. What should I do?
You must leave the U.S. at the end of your J-1 Visa program, as this is a temporary cultural exchange program. Leaving the U.S. at the end of your program is a necessary part of completing your exchange, and this is specified in the federal program regulations for the J-1 Visa.
Further, you agreed to leave the U.S. at the end of your program when you signed the Participant Agreement form in your online application, and you also verbally agreed to this when InterExchange or one of our cooperators interviewed you for the program. It may be possible for you to return on a work visa in the future, but we are unable to assist or advise on this.
My Internship/Training program is ending soon. Can I do the program again?
Yes, but InterExchange cannot typically sponsor back-to-back J-1 Visas. To qualify for a new J-1 Intern Visa, you must show that you are learning new or more advanced skills. You must also return to school for at least one more term before applying for another J-1 Intern program in order to demonstrate that you are actively pursuing a degree. If you have graduated, you must show proof of your recent graduation to confirm that you have no more coursework to complete.
Interns/Trainees who have previously completed a J-1 Intern or Trainee Visa must wait at least two years before being eligible for a J-1 Trainee Visa. This is required for all participants who have previously done a J-1 Intern or Trainee Visa and is not related to Rule 212(e), also known as the two-year home residency requirement.
In the majority of cases, InterExchange will not approve you to return to the same host employer where you completed a previous internship or training program. Please contact us to discuss your specific case if you do wish to train with the same employer.
My program has ended. How long can I remain in the U.S.?
Although you are not permitted to intern or train past the end date on your DS-2019 Form, you are permitted to stay a maximum of 30 days past the end date to travel within the U.S. and prepare for your departure. This is referred to as the “grace period”.
Why is a Social Security number needed?
Social Security numbers are generally assigned to people who are authorized to work in the United States. They are used to report your wages to the government and when filing your tax return. Also, when opening up a new bank account, most banks require either a Social Security number or proof of application for a Social Security number.
How long will it take to receive my card?
Your card should arrive in the mail within six weeks of your application date. It is important that your mailing address on Form SS-5 is accurate to ensure that your card gets delivered to you. If you change your mailing address after you submit your application to the Social Security office, it is your responsibility to inform the Social Security Administration of this change by calling or visiting any Social Security office. If you do not currently have a valid mailing address, you may list your employer’s address as your mailing address.
If I am a returning J-1 participant and have already been issued a Social Security number, do I need to reapply?
No, you do not need to apply for a new number. If you do not remember your number or have lost your card, you will need to apply for a replacement by visiting your local Social Security office: www.ssa.gov/locator.
What if the Social Security Administration won’t accept my documents?
The Social Security Administration will not accept a student’s application and documents if you have not yet registered in SEVIS. We recommend going to the Social Security office at least five business days after activating your SEVIS record and at least 10 days after your arrival. If SSA does not accept your application, take detailed notes of what the Social Security officer says and report this information to InterExchange by calling 1-800-621-1202.
What if my Social Security card never arrives?
If you put your employer’s address on the Social Security application Form SS-5, first check with them to ensure that they have not already received your card. If they have not, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. An update on your application status will usually be given over the phone. In the event that there is an issue with the application, take detailed notes and call InterExchange to help resolve the issue. You can also reapply in person at your local Social Security office, which can be found at: www.ssa.gov/locator.
Please review the Taxes section of the Participant Handbook for more detailed tax information
Do I need to file a tax return?
Yes, if you received payment from your host employer, you will need to file a tax return each year you earned income on your program in the U.S. If you have any specific tax questions, you should contact a tax preparer or call the IRS information line: 1.800.829.1040. InterExchange staff are not licensed tax professionals and are not able to advise you on tax-related matters.
When is the tax season?
Each U.S. tax season begins on January 1st and lasts until taxes are due, typically on April 15th. This is the time period during which everyone must file taxes on the income earned during the previous calendar year. For example, 2021 taxes will be due to the IRS on April 15, 2022.
What is my tax status?
For tax purposes, J-1 Visa holders are considered non-resident aliens. Please review the IRS’ non-resident alien filing requirements.
I was not paid during my internship. Do I need to file a tax return?
You don’t need to file a tax return, but you will need to file Form 8843 with the IRS by the tax deadline.
Can I use TurboTax or other online tax preparation software to file my taxes?
Unfortunately, no. Unless you e-file with a specific nonresident tax preparer, you must mail paper copies of your tax documents to the IRS. TurboTax does not support non-resident tax forms, and filing as a U.S. resident with online tax software may cause the IRS to suspect you of tax fraud.
What is a ghost preparer?
An individual or company who prepares and submits your taxes but refuses to sign as the preparer. Be on the lookout for fraud such as this by reviewing information on ghost preparers and other scams on the IRS website.
Please review the Insurance section of the Participant Handbook for more detailed insurance information
What is a Co-Pay?
Although your insurance will pay most of your medical bill, you will be required, as the patient, to pay a small portion called a copay. Under your insurance plan you will have a copay for each doctor’s office visit, hospital stay, or other form of care. For each visit, you will pay the copay and the insurance will pay the remaining qualified expenses. If you visit an out-of-network doctor, you can expect a larger copay for each doctor’s office visit.
What is a Deductible?
This is the amount you must pay for medical expenses before the insurance company is obligated to pay. Outside of the USA, this is also known as excess. Under your insurance policy you have a deductible for visiting the emergency room (unless you are admitted overnight, at which point the fee is waived).
This means if the emergency room bill is less than your deductible, you will have to pay the entire bill; if it is more than your deductible, then you will only pay the deductible and the insurance company will pay the remaining amount of qualified expenses.
To avoid high emergency room costs, only use the emergency room for true emergencies and use a walk-in clinic or visit a provider for non-emergency care.
When I telephone the doctor to make an appointment and they request the name of my insurance, what do I tell them?
The plan utilizes the UnitedHealthcare Network, so when calling or talking with providers, please mention this name or show the provider a copy of your insurance ID card with the UnitedHealthcare logo on it for network recognition. Alternatively, or if any issues arise, please call Seven Corners (the company who processes your insurance claims) immediately for assistance.
Can I go to any doctor?
Yes, you are free to visit any provider you wish, but it is not advisable to see doctors outside of the provider network. The benefit of staying within the preferred provider network is that bills and invoices may be settled directly without any payment (apart from your deductibles) on your part. You can search for in-network doctors on the insurance website.
What does my insurance NOT cover?
Common exclusions on your insurance plan include dental (teeth), vision (eyes), pre-existing conditions (health conditions you had prior to arriving in the U.S.), birth control pills, long-term treatment & regular exams/check-ups. However, please visit the log into your Student Zone for a copy of your insurance brochure that will contain a full listing of the plan exclusions.
What should I do if I am feeling suicidal?
Please seek help immediately. We urge you to contact one of these 24-hour services:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline | 1-800-273-8255
- The Trevor Lifeline (LGBTQA)| 1-(866-488-7386
- Treatment Referral Hotline (Substance Abuse)| 1-800-662-4357
- National Sexual Assault Hotline | 1-800-656-4673
- Crisis Text Line| Text Free in the US 741741
What mental health resources are available to me?
There are a number of free or inexpensive online resources. If you would like to speak with someone in person, some, but not all, mental health expenses will be covered by your insurance plan. Mental health care can be expensive and not all doctors or clinics offer these services, so we recommend exploring your options.
If you are struggling to adjust to life in the U.S., please reach out to InterExchange for assistance.
When should I go to a hospital emergency room?
You should ONLY visit a hospital emergency room if you are experiencing a serious injury or a life-threatening illness.
We generally recommend that you visit a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic for non-emergency treatment. You will likely have a shorter wait time, and urgent care clinics tend to be much less expensive than hospital emergency rooms. Your plan may also include access to telemedicine, allowing you to connect with a doctor online. This is typically the fastest and cheapest option for seeking care. For more steps on seeking treatment, visit the Envisage Global website.
Am I or are my dependents subject to any requirements in the Affordable Care Act?
You and your dependents are not likely to be subject to ACA requirements. For more information, please read this blog post.
Does my employer provide insurance?
Your host employer may offer you comprehensive health insurance as part of your compensation package. A health insurance policy may be a good addition to the coverage that you have during your program. However, you may not cancel the accident and sickness coverage purchased through InterExchange. The InterExchange-arranged policy is designed to meet the insurance requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of State and will provide benefits specific to being on an international exchange program.
What if I lose my insurance confirmation card?
You can download a new copy of your insurance card from the My Documents page of the Envisage Global Insurance website.
What do I need to take with me when I go the doctor’s office?
You should take with you:
- Insurance confirmation card with your Individual Policy Number
- Passport (to use as Identification)
- DS-2019 Form (just in case they need to see it)
How/where do I get my individual insurance policy number?
Your insurance ID card contains both your Group Number (this is the same for all participants under the plan) and your Member ID, which is unique to you and is your individual insurance policy number. Your insurance card was emailed to you at the beginning of your program. If you need another copy, you can download one on the Envisage Global Insurance website.
My insurance card says my coverage will expire before the end of my program. Am I going to be covered?
Yes, your insurance will cover you through the end of your 30-day grace period.
The insurance company does not allow us to order more than 364 days of insurance when we create your account. However, we are able to extend your insurance coverage as we get closer to the initial expiration date. Your coverage will be extended through the end of your grace period.
What is a claim form?
It is a form/application you must fill in after going to the doctor in order for the insurance company to pay your medical bill. Download a claim form from the Claims Center.
Who has to file a claim form?
All Career Training USA Interns/Trainees who receive medical treatment must file a claim form for each injury or illness.
When should I file the claim form?
As soon as possible after going to the doctor’s office and no later than 90 days after you received treatment. After 90 days, you will not be reimbursed for your medical expenses.
What does the insurance company need from me in order to process the refund?
A signed and dated claim form and either the physician’s bill or a fully itemized statement of charges (a complete list of everything the doctor’s office has charged you) with the diagnosis written on the doctor’s letterhead. Learn more about the claims process at the Claims Center.
If my medical provider sent the bill directly to the insurance claims department, do I still have to fill out a claim form?
Yes, it is recommended that you complete a claim form for each new injury/illness. The bill and claim form do not have to be mailed in together. As long as the medical provider sent the bill to Seven Corners, you only have to send in your claim form. However, sending both together may help to expedite payment of your bill.
How do I find out the status of a claim?
Visit the Claims Center and log in to your My Account, or call/email Seven Corners. If you do not have a My Account, you can create one at the My Account registration page. Seven Corners can be contacted at:
- Phone: 1-8777-6767 (24/7 toll-free) or 1-(317)-582-2622 (24/7 Direct Dial)
- Email: [email protected]
I received an unpaid bill from the doctor’s office I visited. What should I do?
First, call the doctor’s office to ask if they have submitted the bill to Seven Corners. If they did not receive your correct insurance information, you may give them Seven Corners’ details so that your claim can be processed. If the bill was submitted to Seven Corners but has not yet been processed, please visit your online My Account to track the status of your claim. You can also contact Seven Corners directly in order to find out if they are missing any paperwork that is needed to process your claim and pay the bill. Learn more from the Claims Center.
I am unhappy with the results of my insurance claim. What steps can I take?
If a claim has been processed and you are not happy with the results, you can request that Seven Corners review the claim again. To do this, you can email Seven Corners to request another review. Appeals can be emailed to: [email protected].