Before seeking any job, internship or traineeship in the United States it’s very important to know the visa process inside out so you have an awareness of what lies ahead and also to be able to explain it to any possible US company/organization at interview stage. Believe me, knowing this in advance saves any misunderstandings between you and your employer along with educating them on the process, if they are not already aware.

As stated in the introductory J1 article I will be focusing on J1 visas for professional business/corporate experience. For this there are two types of J1 Visas: the J1 Internship Visa and the J1 Traineeship Visa. Both have different purposes and different requirements needed of you and your host company/organization.

J1 INTERNSHIP VISA

Internship programs are designed to allow foreign college and university students or recent graduates to come to the United States to gain exposure to U.S. culture and to receive hands-on experience in U.S. business practices in their chosen occupational field.

Requirements:

  • Be currently enrolled in and pursuing studies at a foreign degree- or certificate-granting post-secondary academic institution outside the United States

or

  • Who have graduated from such an institution no more than 12 months prior to their exchange visitor program start date.
  • Interns must be foreign nationals
  • Internship must be related to academic field of study
  • You must be between the ages 18 and 38.
  • As an intern, the applicant is strictly prohibited from accepting any employment in the U.S outside of their internship.

Intern or trainee does not perform ordinary work that a part-time or full-time staff member of the company would otherwise be responsible for. J-1 participants may not make final decisions about, or carry the full responsibility for, major tasks, assignments or projects. However, they may provide assistance in these matters since on-the-job training is encouraged as an important learning tool.

(This is important when you and your host company are coming up with a training plan that all tasks are that of training, shadowing learning rather than have responsibility for.)

Your host employer must be eligible to host interns/trainees. For more details see: https://www.cicdgo.com/host-an-intern/

J1 TRAINEESHIP VISA

Training programs are designed to allow foreign professionals to come to the United States to gain exposure to U.S. culture and to receive training in U.S. business practices in their chosen occupational field.

Requirements:

  • Has a degree or professional certificate from a foreign post-secondary academic institution and at least one year of prior related work experience in his or her occupational field outside the United States;

or

  • Has five years of work experience outside the United States in the occupational field in which they are seeking training.
  • Training must be in their chosen occupational field.
  • Trainee must be a foreign national.
  • The training cannot duplicate the trainees prior work experience or training.
  • As an trainee, the applicant is strictly prohibited from accepting any employment in the U.S outside of their internship.

Intern or trainee does not perform ordinary work that a part-time or full-time staff member of the company would otherwise be responsible for. J-1 participants may not make final decisions about, or carry the full responsibility for, major tasks, assignments or projects. However, they may provide assistance in these matters since on-the-job training is encouraged as an important learning tool.

(This is important when you and your host company are coming up with a training plan that all tasks are that of training, shadowing learning rather than have responsibility for)

Your host employer must be eligible to host interns/trainees. For more details see: https://www.cicdgo.com/host-an-intern/

Find a Sponsor

Once you get offered an internship/traineeship within a host organization you need to decide on a relevant third party sponsor to act as an approving body of your internship/trainee ship, host organization, training plan and to issue you with a DS-2019 form so you can apply for your J1 Visa at a US embassy. The sponsor also supports and monitors the J1 participant during their entire program duration.

There are a variety of different sponsors that can differ in cost so it’s worth looking around.

The cost can range anywhere from €1500-€3000 which include application fees, visa and embassy fees and health insurance.

Some that I recommend are:

https://www.wwceusa.com/j1-work-and-travel-usa

https://www.j1.ie/

https://www.cicdgo.com/

https://www.j1online.ie/

https://j1ireland.com/

https://www.smallerearth.com/ie/

US Embassy Interview

Once you receive your DS-2019 form from your sponsor you will need to schedule a j1 visa interview with a consulate officer at the US embassy or consulate in your country of residence. Your sponsor will guide you how to book your embassy interview, what documentation to bring and standard questions the US embassy interviewer will ask you.

Time-frame

In total the process should take no more than 2 months from when you first contact your sponsor until you receive your J1 visa in your passport. It may be less, it may be more, it all depends on your sponsor approving you, your host company and the training plan.

*The next article will focus on job search and networking.  Keep a look out by joining Digital Irish social media platforms.*

James Cumiskey is Business Development Manager for KEMP Technologies based in their New York headquarters. Coming from Ireland, he has been through the J1 process before and found his employment through networking and interviewing on the ground here in the city.

Twitter: @jamescumiskey1

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescumiskey1/