The J-1 visa is a nonimmigrant cultural exchange visa issued by the U.S. Department of State. The objective of the J-1 visa is to facilitate exchanges that allow individuals from around the world to gain a first-hand understanding of U.S. culture and institutions and to foster a better understanding of the American perspective on a variety of issues.

There are basically two categories in which a person my qualify for a J-1 visa:

A. The Intern Category 
The intern category was created to differentiate the learning experiences of current post-secondary students and recent graduates from those of professionals. Like the trainee program, the intern program must directly relate to the participant’s career field or field of study. 
The requisites of the intern category are:

  • Participants are foreign nationals who:
    • are currently enrolled in and pursuing studies at a foreign degree- or certificate-granting post-secondary academic institution outside the United States, OR
    • graduated from such an institution no more than 12 months priorto his or her exchange visitor program start date.
  • Maximum duration in any field is 12 months.


B.Trainee Category

  • The trainee must be a foreign national who has:
    • degree or professional certificate from a foreign post-secondary academic institution outside the United States and at least one year of prior related work experience in his or her occupational field outside the United States,


    • Five years of work experience in his or her occupational field outside the United States.
  • Maximum duration remains 18 months except for certain field restrictions:
    • Agriculture fields have been limited to a training maximum of 12 months.
    • Hospitality field training programs have been limited to a maximum duration of 12 months; all programs longer than six months must have at least three departmental rotations.
    • Hospitality programs have been limited because:
      • The State Department is of the view that 12 months is sufficient time to train a person in this occupational field or category, especially in light of the new educational/experiential requirements created for trainees.


Clarifications of Regulations Affecting both Trainee and Intern Categories

  • Participants have the opportunity to come back on a J-1 intern or trainee visa as long as they meet the requirements of the regulations.
  • Trainee and intern positions cannot displace a permanent or temporary American worker. The positions must be designed solely for the purpose of hosting an intern or a trainee.
  • Regulations prohibit training or intern placements in unskilled or casual labor positions, in positions that require or involve child care or elder care, or in any kind of position that involves patient care or contact - this includes animal contact as in the cases of Veterinary Sciences.
  • Trainees and interns cannot perform more than 20 percent of their on-the-job experience in clerical work.


New training/internship plan:

New form DS-7002 (Training/Internship Placement Plan) must be completed.
Midterm and Final Evaluations are required at a minimum from both the participant and host organization supervisor for all programs exceeding 6 months.  
For programs six months and less, a Final Evaluation is obligatory. All evaluations must be received by the sponsoring organization prior to the end of the program and they must be signed by both the participant and their immediate supervisor.

Changes for Host Organizations 

Sponsoring organizations must:

  • Conduct site visits of host organizations that:
    • have not previously participated successfully in the sponsor's programs, and
    • have fewer than 25 employees, OR
    • less than three million dollars in annual revenue.
  • Collect the following information from all host organizations:
    • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
    • Proof of Worker's Compensation Insurance Policy  
    • Verification of participant’s English language skills and documented interview with sponsoring organization, host organization, or approved third party.


Final Rule on J-1visas