Am I Eligible?

The Exchange Visitor (J) non-immigrant visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work- and study-based exchange visitor programs, which enable foreign nationals to experience life in the United States for a limited period and strengthen ties between the U.S. and the exchange visitors' home countries. The U.S. Department of State designates sponsors to confirm eligibility for the Exchange Visitor Program based on up-to-date regulations and guidance directives. All J visa applicants must have secured an exchange program sponsor before applying for the visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate.

The American Immigration Council is designated by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor J-1 participants in the Intern and Trainee category only. The content of all internship and training programs sponsored by our office fit within the following instructional areas only:

  • Arts and Culture
  • Information, Media, and Communications
  • Management, Business, Commerce and Finance
  • Public Administration and Law 
  • Social Sciences, Library Science, Non-clinical Counseling, and Social Services
  • The Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics, and Industrial Occupations
  • Tourism (restricted, management-level only)

Our Cultural Exchange Program team welcomes inquiries from U.S. host companies, their attorneys and from potential international interns and trainees. As a sponsor, it is our responsibility to review the suitability of both the international applicant and the U.S. host organization to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program. Our team evaluates eligibility with interested exchange visitors, hosts and support their attorneys through the online sponsorship application process and a one-on-one Skype interview with each potential visitor. We pride ourselves on that personal connection and, as a result, do not work with overseas recruiters or placement agencies.

Have you been offered an internship opportunity at an organization based in the United States?  Here are some basic requirements of all private sector internship programs sponsored through the American Immigration Council:

  • Duration of Stay: Minimum 3 weeks, Maximum 12 months

  • Age Requirements: Minimum age 18 years, no maximum

  • English Proficiency: Documented interview to determine sufficient English language proficiency (conducted by our staff)

  • Repeat Participation: Interns may qualify for sponsorship in multiple internship programs as long as they remain eligible for the internship category, including current enrollment or recent graduation from a ministerially-recognized post-secondary academic program overseas

  • Student or Graduate Status: Evidence of current enrollment or graduation within the past 12 months from a ministerially-recognized post-secondary, degree-granting academic program outside of the United States. Degrees earned from U.S. institutions or dual-degree programs with a U.S.-based degree component do not count toward eligibility for an internship exchange program

  • Financial Support: Total financial support must equal at least three times (3x) the reasonable rent in the host community per month for the entire duration of stay.  

Have you been approached by a U.S.-based organization interested in providing training to strengthen ties with markets and providers overseas?  Here are some basic requirements of all private sector training programs sponsored through the American Immigration Council:

  • Duration of Stay: Minimum 3 weeks, Maximum 18 months.

  • Age Requirements: Minimum age 18 years, no maximum.

  • English Proficiency: Documented interview to determine sufficient English language proficiency (conducted by Council staff).

  • Repeat Participation: Trainees are subject to a 24-month bar between repeat participation in exchange visitor programs. Time on the 24-month bar is measured from the date the last exchange program ended. 

  • Professional Qualification: Evidence of a post-secondary degree related directly to the field of training and a miniumum of 1 year related work experience, both gained outside of the U.S., or a minimum of 5 years related full-time work experience gained outside of the United States. Applicants for sponsorship with degrees from U.S. institutions must be able to tie the training offer to a degree earned outside of the U.S. Applicants who have completed Optional Practical Training (OPT) must still have a degree and work experience gained outside of the U.S. and their training program must be significantly different from their OPT.

  • Financial Support: Total financial support must equal at least three times (3x) the reasonable rent in the host community per month for the entire duration of stay. 

Potential host companies must be able to document and/or demonstrate the following to meet basic eligibility requirements:

  • The organizational goals and bona fide internship or training opportunity align with the American Immigration Council’s permitted instructional categories (above);

  • In operation for a minimum of 2 years and have at least 6 full-time employees on the site where the exchange visitor receives training;

  • The total number of J-1 participants cannot exceed 10 percent of the total number of full time employees;

  • Expect that the exchange visitor will not be engaged in ordinary employment and will not be used to fill a position that could be filled by U.S.-based workers;

  • Has the appropriate facility and equipment to provide the proposed training or internship experience;

  • Employs qualified personnel to provide daily, on-site supervision of trainees or interns;

  • Be prepared to accommodate a host site visit from the American Immigration Council or the Department of State upon request;

  • Be prepared to compensate interns and/or trainees through monetary and/or non-monetary compensation to help exchange visitors demonstrate financial documentation sufficient to fully meet anticipated expenses.

We hope you share in our enthusiasm for providing high-quality exchange experiences across the United States.  A review of our application checklist and sponsorship fees will help you get you started!