Trainees & Interns

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

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

Am I Eligible?

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 enough English language proficiency (conducted by our staff)
  • Repeat Participation: Interns may qualify for sponsorship to return to the United States for additional internship programs if they remain eligible for the internship category. This includes currently enrolled students at the next level of study, or recent graduates who may have completed a previous internship during the course of study.
  • 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. The internship training plan and field of academic study must relate
  • Financial Support: Total financial support must equal at least three times (3x) the reasonable cost of rent in the host community 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 enough 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 minimum 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.

Applying for Sponsorship

No, the American Immigration Council does not provide recruitment or placement services for exchange visitors and hosts. For suggestions on how to find a host organization before applying for sponsorship from us, please view Finding a J-1 Internship in the U.S.

Exchange visitors and host company representatives both have a role to play in the online sponsorship application. You are responsible for completing the Trainee/Intern file and providing the following documents with English translations, if necessary:

  • All pages of your passport. The passport must be valid for at least six (6) months after the program end date.
  • Diploma(s) or degree certificate(s)
  • Educational transcripts (for Intern applicants and for Trainee applicants whose degree does not clearly match the field of training)
  • Resume or CV in English, or the original plus the document translated into English
  • Employment verification and reference letter(s) to include dates of employment, responsibilities, hours worked per week, and compensation
  • Biographic page of J-2 dependent's passport (photo and biographical data page)

Please note that the application can be started and saved if the documents need to be gathered.

All fees are due when an application is submitted.  Total fees can vary based on the type of application service requested and the specifics of the case. An up-to-date breakdown is available on our Fees page. Fees include the following services:

  • Screening and processing of J-1 training program application 
  • Shipping of Certificate of Eligibility (Form DS-2019) to accepted applicants
  • SEVIS fee payment to the U.S. government
  • Identification of Sickness & Accident Insurance meeting U.S. government requirements for J-1 visa holders
  • Participant and host user handbooks
  • Orientation and program materials
  • Consulting on the J-1 visa process
  • Program monitoring and on-going support to J-1 trainees and host organizations
  • Certificate of Completion
  • Government reporting and compliance with SEVIS requirements

Please note that the application can be started and saved if the documents need to be gathered.

The American Immigration Council conducts a video interview with each applicant prior to approving internship or trainee proposals for sponsorship. Interviews are booked using the online scheduling tool. While host organizations or attorneys may book the interview, it is ultimately up to individual applicants to schedule the interview appointments in a timely manner.

If any changes need to be made to the Skype appointment schedule, we will contact applicants individually. If you will not be able to attend the interview or if you need to update/change your contact information, use the "Cancel/Reschedule" link in the online scheduling tool. Email questions to [email protected]

Prepare by reviewing your DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan and recalling past visits to the U.S, including for tourism purposes. You will be asked general questions about the proposed internship or training program. Next, we will describe the process of obtaining your DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility and supporting documents. Next, we will discuss the process of applying for the visa online and attending the in-person interview at a U.S. consulate. Canadian citizens do not need an in-person interview at a U.S. consulate. Finally, we will discuss our role as your cultural exchange visa sponsor and explain what you must do to remain in good standing throughout your stay in the United States.

After you receive a congratulatory email from our team confirming your SEVIS ID number. Details from that email will be required to complete the DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application and book your consulate interview. The U.S. Department of State advises against making travel arrangements until you have secured your visa.


The application process from documentation gathering to receipt of visa is approximately 8 weeks. A decision will be reached on the case within approximately five business days following the webcam interview and receipt of all program materials.

  • Week 1-3: Preparation and submission of sponsorship application documents through the J-1 Application portal.
  • Week 4: Council review of submitted documentation. The scheduled webcam interview is conducted and the follow-up process for additional information is initiated (if necessary).
  • Week 5: The Council case manager will provide a decision on sponsorship. If approved, the documents required for the U.S. embassy interview are mailed via FedEx to the exchange visitor. The exchange visitor can proceed with completing the DS-160 and scheduling their in-person embassy interview.
  • Week 6: The exchange visitor attends their scheduled U.S. embassy interview with all embassy-requested documents.
  • Week 7-8: The exchange visitor will receive their passport and visa back from the U.S. embassy (if approved). Embassy visa interview scheduling and processing times vary. Please check your nearest embassy’s estimated wait times. This is also time for the exchange visitor to begin preparing for travel to the United States and the training program start date.

Consular Processing and Return Intent

The American Immigration Council provides sponsorship to visitors applying for a J-1 visa from an embassy or consulate outside of the United States, where they will be required to indicate a clear, singular intent to leave the United States at the end of an internship or training program.

Return intent is a core eligibility requirement outlined by the Department of State and underlies the legislative framework supporting the Exchange Visitor Program. The American Immigration Council cannot knowingly provide J visa sponsorship to individuals at host organizations that intend to file for change of status after arrival in the US.

Past J-1 internships or other J-1 programs, such as summer work/travel, camp counselor, or visiting scholar will not prevent participation in an Internship, Training or Research Scholar program through the American Immigration Council, provided all other eligibility requirements are met. Trainees and Research Scholars need to reside outside the U.S. for at least two (2) years between successive J-1 exchange programs.

Not have participated in and completed a research scholar program within the last 24 months preceding the beginning date of their new program’s commencement.