As a J-1 Intern or Trainee, you may have the opportunity to extend your program in the U.S. If your program is currently less than 12 months - the maximum duration allowed - and you apply within the designated timeframe, then you are eligible to apply for an extension.
Maximum Program Length for Interns
You may stay in the U.S. for a total of 12 months. Therefore, if your current program is four months, you can extend for up to eight more months. This program length limit is set by the U.S. Department of State, so unfortunately, it is not possible to extend your program longer than this maximum. It is also not possible to change from the Intern category to the Trainee category.
Maximum Program Length for Trainees
If you are a Hospitality Trainee, you may stay in the U.S. for a total of 12 months. Therefore, if your current program is four months, you can extend for up to eight more months. Trainees in all other categories may stay for a total of 18 months. These program length limits are set by the U.S. Department of State, so unfortunately, it is not possible to extend your program longer than these maximums.
Training Plans for Extensions
You may extend your program with your current host employer or with a new host employer. If staying with your current employer, your extension program should be more advanced or significantly different from the original program. If extending with a new employer, you will need to find a new internship before you can apply for an extension. Please note that if you find a new employer, the internship program must still be in the same field as your original program and cannot duplicate what you have already learned in your original training. The new host employer must meet all of our requirements for host employers as well.
Extension Program Compensation
If staying with the same employer and your program will exceed six months with the extension, your employer must fairly compensate you for your internship. We are not able to approve unpaid programs over six months in length (in total) with the same employer, and longer programs must always provide at least minimum wage. If your extension will be with a new employer, it may be unpaid if the extension period is less than six months and your internship meets the U.S. Department of Labor’s Six Criteria for Unpaid Internships. You must also prove that you will have adequate funds on hand to support yourself if your extension program will be unpaid. As always, all unpaid programs are considered on a case-by-case basis, even if less than six months in duration, to ensure the Department of Labor criteria are met.
Visa for Extension Period
You do not necessarily need a new visa when you extend your J-1 program. This is because your new DS-2019 Form is all you need to continue interning in the U.S. Your visa is only needed when entering the U.S. from another country. The only reason you would need a new visa is if you were to travel abroad during your extension period and your initial J-1 Visa had expired. In that case, you would need to get a new visa from an embassy/consulate outside the U.S. before re-entering the country to continue your extension. You will also need to keep both your original and extension DS-2019 Forms with you at all times when traveling internationally.
- J-1 Visa = Permission to enter the U.S.
- DS-2019 Form = Permission to intern in the U.S.
Request an Extension Application
If you are not at the maximum program length and would like to continue interning, you may apply for an extension. InterExchange only accepts extension applications 30 to 60 days before the end of your program. Check your DS-2019 Form to find your program end date, then go back 60 days to determine when you are eligible to apply. You may also email InterExchange and we can tell you.
When you are ready to apply, go to app.interexchange.org and login using your original application login details. If it is 30 to 60 days before your program end date and you are eligible for an extension, you will see an "Extend Your Program" button and will be able to start an extension application.* If you do not see the option to start an extension application and you’re not sure why, please contact our office. Make sure to read all instructions before filling out the application, and please email us if you need any help.
- NOTE: If you are applying for an extension at a new host company, this process is not yet online, so please email InterExchange at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a copy of the application documents and instructions on what you need to complete.
Submit Your Extension Application
When you and your employer have completed the application, paid the extension application fees, and completed your final program evaluations, you will submit your application to InterExchange. Once we receive it, we will review your application. The processing time is about one to two weeks. If your application is approved, we will send you a new DS-2019 Form with your extension program dates that will allow you to continue interning in the USA. If we are unable to approve your extension, you will still be able to intern until your program end date, and you are still entitled to your 30-day grace period after your program end date. Once your program and grace period have ended, though, you will be required to leave the U.S. if we were not able to extend your program.
If you have any further questions, you can always email us at email@example.com, and we’ll be happy to help.