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 are the eligibility requirements for the program?
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, you will not be eligible for the program at this time. If this is the case, we encourage you to search for internships using our internship guide.
What is the difference between an Intern and a Trainee?
The main difference between interns and trainees has to do with the education and experience required of each.
Interns must be current students or recent graduates of a post-secondary academic institution outside the U.S. that grants degrees or certificates. If you’ve completed your studies, you must start the internship program within one year of graduating. Interns are permitted to intern in the U.S. for up to 12 months, and your field of training must be related to your field of study.
Trainees must have earned a degree or professional certificate from an overseas post-secondary academic institution and have at least one year of related professional experience acquired outside the U.S. Alternatively, if you do not have a degree or certificate, you must have at least five years of related professional experience acquired outside the U.S. As a trainee you are permitted to train in the U.S. for up to 18 months, unless you are participating in a Hospitality/Tourism program, which cannot exceed 12 months. Your field of training must be related to your professional experience.
How long can I stay in the U.S.?
The maximum duration of the J-1 Intern Visa is 12 months. The maximum duration of the J-1 Trainee Visa is 18 months. Hospitality/Tourism training programs are limited to 12 months for both Interns and Trainees, per the program regulations.
I am starting university next month. Can I apply as an intern?
Not yet. You must be a full-time student currently enrolled in and pursuing studies 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.
What is the purpose of the program?
The primary goals of InterExchange Career Training USA programs are 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 bona-fide training and not simply be additional work experience.
The program will help increase your understanding of American culture, while also enhancing Americans' knowledge of your culture, customs and practices. Through this program, you will help to promote mutual understanding and develop relationships and extended networks that will last through generations as you move into leadership roles in your home country.
Visa & Documents
What is a J-1 Visa?
The J-1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa issued through the Exchange Visitor Program. Recipients of the visa must complete the objectives of their specific exchange program. The program categories offered through InterExchange Career Training USA are "Intern" and "Trainee."
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 then take the DS-2019 Form to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your home country to apply for the J-1 Visa. We sponsor the visa, but we cannot issue it.
How do I find a visa sponsor?
InterExchange can sponsor your J-1 Visa! Confirm that you meet our requirements to start the application process.
I have already had a J-1 Visa. Can I get another J-1 Visa through InterExchange Career Training USA?
Applicants who have previously participated in a J-1 intern or trainee program, or had J-1 Visas in other categories (Au Pair, Student, Work and Travel, etc.) may be able to apply for both the J-1 Intern and J-1 Trainee Visa at a later date, but this is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us to discuss.
What is a DS-2019?
In order to apply for a J-1 Intern/Trainee visa, an applicant must first be approved for sponsorship and be issued a DS-2019 Form, which is a U.S. government document certifying that we have agreed to sponsor your J-1 Intern/Trainee visa.
What is an I-94 record?
The I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) is used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to track the arrival and departure of foreign nationals. Visitors will receive an I-94 record upon entering the U.S. If coming to the U.S. by air or sea, the arrival record will be recorded electronically by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP). 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. 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).
What is SEVIS?
SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. All Interns/Trainees must be registered in the SEVIS database, which InterExchange will do if you are approved for sponsorship. You will 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 $180 SEVIS fee prior to your visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy. You will include this fee with your program fees and InterExchange will pay it for you. This fee goes to the Department of Homeland Security, not to InterExchange.
I am already in the U.S. Can I apply?
No. Applicants must return to their home country 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 in the J-1 Visa Work & Travel program. 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 the Work & Travel program. Please note that InterExchange does not generally approve applications in which participants will be returning to their Work & Travel employers. Contact our office if you have any questions about whether your program is eligible.
I have already done an Intern/Trainee program. Can I do the program again?
Yes. To qualify for a new J-1 Intern Visa, you must show that you are learning new or more advanced skills. InterExchange cannot sponsor back-to-back J-1 Intern Visas. You must return to school for at least one more term before applying to another J-1 Intern program in order to demonstrate that you are actively pursuing a degree.
Interns/Trainees who have previously completed a J-1 Intern or Trainee Visa must wait at least two years before being eligible for another J-1 Trainee Visa. This is required for all participants who have previously held a J-1 Intern or Trainee Visa and is not related to Rule 212(e), also known as the two-year home residency requirement.
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. However, they must apply for the J-2 Visa (also sponsored through InterExchange Career Training USA). Please indicate on your application that you will be bringing your spouse and/or children with you and provide the dependent information requested in the application.
Do my dependents need insurance?
Yes. Please include the appropriate insurance payment when applying. Independent coverage may not be used in place of the insurance provided through InterExchange. Prices for dependent sponsorship and insurance can be found under Miscellaneous Fees on our Costs & Fees page.
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. through an airport or seaport will have an electronic I-94 form which can be downloaded from the CBP website.
Is my employer required to pay me?
Intern programs of six months or less may be paid or unpaid and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Any pay or benefits should be arranged between you and your host company. You may only intern or train at the location of your internship/training program, per the program regulations, soif your position will be unpaid, please ensure you will have sufficient funds to support yourself while in the U.S. Further, any unpaid internships must meet the Department of Labor's test for unpaid internships. All Interns whose programs are longer than six months and all trainees with programs of any length must be paid at least minimum wage.
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.
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. Three business-day expedited review is available for an additional fee.
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 the expedited review option, we suggest you submit your complete application to InterExchange at least eight weeks prior to the date on which you intend to begin your internship or training in order to allow sufficient time for application processing, your visa appointment, and travel.
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:
- The applicant does not have the required education or experience in order to satisfy the 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. All requirements must be met in order to be eligible.
- 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 in a field InterExchange is not 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. We encourage you to review our sponsored fields to ensure we are able to sponsor your program. If you have any questions about whether your field is eligible, please contact our office.
- The applicant is currently in the U.S., or is currently on another visa and requesting a change of status.
- The applicant has spent a considerable amount of time in the U.S., including those who have recently completed a degree and/or optional practical training within the U.S.
I want to find my own internship. Where should I start?
Please review our tips for finding an international internship.
I found my internship! Are there any requirements my employer must meet?
Yes. Please review our summary of employer requirements.
I can't submit all of my documents right now. Can you 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.
If my application is approved, am I guaranteed to get a visa?
The decision to grant a visa is the U.S. Embassy/Consulate's alone. While visa denials are rare, they do occur. InterExchange has no control over the U.S. Embassy/Consulate's decision to grant or deny a visa application, but we will discuss alternative options with you if you are denied a visa.
Do my dependents need to complete an application for the program?
Yes. Although we do not require a separate application for dependents, there is a section in the application where you can add your dependent's biographical information. If you are bringing more than one dependent, please include the required biographical information for each individual. Dependents must also submit a copy of their passport, copies of all previous visas, and full dependent program and insurance fees. Finally, all dependents 18 years or older must also sign the dependent visa sponsorship agreement which you must then upload to your online application.
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 in a post-secondary institution outside of the U.S. Therefore, your U.S. degree does not qualify you for the program. If you are currently attending 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.
My work experience was in the U.S. Do I qualify for the 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.
How do I prove I have the requisite work experience for the Trainee visa?
If you are trying to show eligibility based on your degree plus one year related professional work experience or based on your five years related professional work experience earned outside the U.S., you must submit employment verification letters which show that 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 for employment verification letters listed on our required documents page.
How do I find housing in the U.S?
Please take a look at Housing Information for details on how to obtain housing in the U.S. You may also save or print our Housing Checklist (PDF) to take with you when visiting potential apartments or 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 large populated urban areas, like New York or San Francisco, and less expensive to reside in 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, there are usually more options and it can be easier to find something quickly. It is recommended that you arrange short-term housing before your program so that you can look for something more long-term after you arrive. Visit our housing page to begin looking for housing in your host city.
Do I have to start searching while still in my home country?
No. We recommend finding a hostel for a few days or weeks initially, and then conduct a more thorough search after your arrival. However, it is helpful to do initial research on your host city and begin to identify some housing options to check out once you arrive.
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 on being here nine months. You will be required to pay for the entire year even if you don't stay the whole time.
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 and try to secure prior to arrival; if you wire money to a person you have never met, it could be a housing scam.
Which documents will be required when I sign a lease or contract?
This will vary depending on what type of housing you have but can include identification, proof of income, and the signature of a guarantor.
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. Often sublets are 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 is 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 but 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 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 (e.g. a hostel) at the beginning of your program and then conducting a thorough search while here.
Information for Current Participants
I just arrived in the U.S. Is there anything I need to do?
Please contact us within ten days of arrival with the following information:
- Your exact arrival date into the United States
- Your residential address in the United States
- Your mobile and residential phone number (if you have secured one) in the United States
- Your Date of Birth
- Copy of your J-1 Visa if you have not submitted it yet
- Exact arrival date of your dependents (if applicable)
We will send you an arrival email and the most efficient way to be activated is to fill out the webform at the link provided. However, if you do not receive or cannot find that email, you may also email us or contact us by phone (212.924.0446) if you do not have access to the Internet. Upon receipt, we will activate your program in SEVIS. This is very important. 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?
The instructions on how to apply for a Social Security Number and what documents you should bring can be found in Lesson 4 of the InterExchange online orientation and in the Participant Handbook that was sent to you with your acceptance packet. You can also 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 record can be updated in SEVIS.
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.
What do I do if I am sick?
Please visit our insurance information page for more details on the insurance we arrange for you and how to schedule a doctor appointment.
What do I do if I lose my DS-2019 Form?
Please notify InterExchange immediately.
What do I need to do if I want to travel outside the U.S. during my program?
Please submit your DS-2019 Form to InterExchange Career Training USA for a travel authorization signature. Bring your documents in person to our New York office or mail the form to us (registered mail is advised). Please submit a cover letter with your DS-2019 Form that includes the dates of travel, the destination, and a return address where we can send your signed form. If you would like us to ship your form back to you for overnight delivery, please include the $20 shipping fee. Note that 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'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 (888) 621-1202. During non-business hours or the weekend, you can contact our emergency line at (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. You may only perform your internship or training program while in the U.S. and you may only do so at the place of employment indicated on the Training/Internship Placement Plan (DS-7002).
I am not happy with my current host employer. Can I switch to another company?
First, we recommend that you discuss the situation with your supervisor and/or InterExchange; problems are often resolved this way. If there is an extraordinary circumstance, you may be able to change your host company. You must 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.
- Your original DS-2019 Form, after you have returned to your home country.
- A cover letter or 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, and reason for ending the program early.
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 do not switch host companies, though, you must leave the U.S. within 30 days of the last day you worked 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. and work at my internship a little longer?
The maximum duration of the Internship 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. Please read more information on program extensions, then log in to your InterExchange online application. All extension applications must be submitted no later than one month prior to your original end date. Please note: You cannot extend your program past the maximum duration listed above.
I was approved for an extension, but my J-1 Visa will expire during my extension period. Is that okay and what does that mean?
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 current visa would have expired. This is not something to be worried about, but definitely something to plan for if you intend to travel internationally during your extension period. Please refer to your Participant Handbook for more information on applying for a J-1 Visa.
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 agree to leave the U.S. at the end of your program when you sign the Participant Agreement form in your online application and verbally agree to this as well when InterExchange or one of our overseas cooperators interviews you for the program.
My Internship/Training program is ending soon. Can I do the program again?
Yes, but InterExchange cannot 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 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 or show proof of your recent graduation from your degree program if 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 applicants wishing to return to the same host employer at which 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, 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".
How do I do my taxes?
For information on how to file a tax return, please refer to the Participant Resource Center. InterExchange staff are not licensed tax professionals. If you have any specific tax questions, we would always advise that you contact a tax preparer or call the IRS information line: 1.800.829.1040.
What do I do if I have problems with insurance, housing, my host employer, etc. during my program?
Please read about some of the types of difficulties you may encounter during your program and how to resolve them. As always, please let InterExchange know if you experience any issues or concerns during your program so that we can assist you.
Online Application Troubleshooting
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 password. Ask all users to add email@example.com 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 to access the application: app.interexchange.org. If they have already activated their account but cannot remember their password, they can go to this link, 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 IE8+, 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 the employer 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 take them to another page where they can enter the name and email address of a colleague who will then be invited to join the account, where they can complete, review, edit, or submit an e-signed application on behalf of the host company.