Frequently Asked Questions

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The Council for Global Immigration is your one-stop shop for utilizing the J-1 Visa program. Here are our answers to many of your top questions.​

Pre-Arrival

What is the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program?

Created by the U.S. Department of State to foster international understanding, the J-1 Visa program provides opportunities for foreign employees and students to visit the United States for on-the-job training and cultural education. It has been a successful component of U.S. public diplomacy for more than 50 years.

All J-1 Visa programs are temporary by design, and participants must depart the United States at the end of their exchange program. To this end, the program is intended to expose participants to U.S. techniques, methodologies, business practices and expertise, as well as to help them gain a better understanding of U.S. culture and society.​

What does the Council for Global Immigration do?

CFGI is designated by the U.S. Department of State as a J-1 Visa sponsor in the Trainee and Intern program categories. These programs are ideally suited for managerial fast-trackers; training related to the onboarding of new overseas employees; project collaborations; and summer associate, internship and co-op programs for university students and recent graduates.​

How can CFGI assist a prospective Trainee or Intern with securing a host organization in the United States?

CFGI does not offer placement services to assist individuals in securing a host organization and does not partner with U.S. or non-U.S. recruiting or placement firms.​

Who are the host organizations?

J-1 host organizations are companies, academic institutions or research institutions that select and provide a structured, practical training opportunity for J-1 Trainees and Interns. Host organizations are not referred to as "host employers," because J-1 Training and Internship programs are not employment positions designed to meet a labor need. All host organizations in CFGI's J-1 program are member organizations of CFGI.​

What are the host organization requirements?

To host a Trainee/Intern under CFGI's J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, a host organization must be a CFGI member. To qualify for CFGI membership, an organization must have at least 250 employees worldwide and an operating presence in at least one location outside the United States. In determining eligibility, CFGI will consider smaller organizations that are part of an umbrella organization or brand, as well as colleges, universities and research institutions with international programs. Host organizations are not referred to as "host employers," because J-1 training and internship programs are not employment positions designed to meet a labor need​

Does CFGI partner with recruiting firms and agencies?

No. CFGI does not offer placement services to assist individuals in arranging a host organization and does not partner with U.S. or non-U.S. recruiting/placement firms.​

What are the trainee program eligibility requirements?

Trainees are professionals who either possess a degree or certificate from a non-U.S. post-secondary academic institution and have at least one (1) year of prior related work experience in their occupational field outside the US OR have at least five (5) years of work experience outside the United States in the occupational field in which they are seeking training.​

What are the intern program eligibility requirements?

Interns are either students who are currently enrolled in and pursuing studies full-time at a foreign degree or certificate-granting post-secondary academic institution outside the United States OR recent graduates who have graduated from such an institution no more than 12 months prior to their Exchange Visitor Program start date.​

How long does it take for CFGI to process a new application?

Under our standard processing, CFGI will process completed applications and issue the J-1 sponsorship paperwork within 15 business days. For an additional $750 expedited processing fee, CFGI will process completed applications within 5 business days. These time frames are contingent upon receipt of a complete application packet with all required supporting materials.​

What documents and forms are required to participate in CFGI's J-1 program?

Information on application requirements can be found here. ​

Should host organizations pay their trainees and interns?

CFGI requires that host organizations provide compensation to their J-1 Trainees and Interns during any sponsored J-1 Trainee or Intern program. The total amount of compensation paid to Trainees and Interns must be determined prior to submitting the J-1 application to CFGI. When determining the total program compensation, host organizations should include housing, transportation and other living expenses covered as part of the program. The U.S. host organization and/or the foreign employer can provide the compensation for the program.

If the compensation does not appear to cover all anticipated expenses during the entire program, the Trainee or Intern must provide documentation confirming that he or she has sufficient financial resources (personal bank statement, parents' bank statement, letter of financial support from overseas college or university, etc.) to successfully complete the full scope of the J-1 program.​

Are cultural activities required for J-1 participants?

J-1 programs must include a robust cultural component and ample opportunities for cross-cultural exchange. The U.S. Department of State launched the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program as an instrument of public diplomacy, and J-1 programs exist to foster global understanding through educational and cultural exchanges. All program participants are expected to return to their home country upon completion of their program to share their exchange experiences. Cultural components are expected to be a regular and integral part of each J-1 program, and detailed documentation reflecting this must be submitted to CFGI with each J-1 application.​

What is the DS-2019?

The form DS-2019, or "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status," is the primary document that permits a prospective exchange visitor to apply for a J visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas. CFGI is authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue this form to prospective exchange visitors who have been screened and deemed eligible for participation in a J-1 program. Even if CFGI determines that your program is eligible for sponsorship under the Exchange Visitor Program and issues a DS-2019 on your behalf, most J-1 candidates must still apply for the visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy. At the applicant's visa appointment, the consular officer will adjudicate the case and determine whether the applicant will ultimately be granted the J visa.​

What is the DS-7002?

The form DS-7002, or "Training/Internship Placement Plan," is the U.S. Department of State form that details the proposed Trainee/Intern program. This form is required for every J-1 Intern and Trainee program, and a signed copy (with signatures from the J-1 candidate, the host organization and CFGI) must be presented when applying for a J-1 Visa. The DS-7002 form is generally completed by the host organization, signed by the participant and program supervisor and reviewed by CFGI.​

What is SEVIS?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the online database administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security containing information on foreign nationals holding F, M and J visas. Program sponsors maintain the records for exchange visitors and their dependents in this database and update the system to reflect any changes to the program (e.g., program dates, training location, participant residential address, compensation amount, etc.).​

What is the SEVIS fee?

All J-1 Trainees and Interns are required to pay a U.S. $180 SEVIS fee to the federal government. After issuing the DS-2019, CFGI will pay the SEVIS fee for your program and provide a copy of the SEVIS fee receipt with the final visa application package. You must bring this fee receipt to your J-1 Visa interview. J-2 dependents are not required to pay a separate SEVIS fee.​

Can I bring my family members to the United States?

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age can accompany you on a J-2 dependent visa. Each dependent must have his or her own DS-2019 form issued by CFGI and must apply for a J-2 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.​

What are the medical insurance requirements?

Federal regulations require that every J-1 participant and their dependents have medical coverage with the following minimum benefits for the entire duration of their training program:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000;
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to their home country in the amount of $50,000; and,
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

CFGI must have proof of insurance coverage before we issue your sponsorship documents. Failure to possess and maintain insurance coverage that meets these required levels will result in termination from the Exchange Visitor Program and will negatively impact your ability to obtain future visas to the United States.​

Does CFGI provide medical insurance?

CFGI currently does not provide medical insurance for J-1 program participants. If a Trainee or Intern will not be covered under their host organization's or foreign employer's insurance policy, or if the provided coverage does not meet or exceed the U.S. Department of State requirements listed above, they must obtain their own insurance (as well as insurance for any dependents). CFGI does not recommend or endorse any particular insurance providers. Upon request, CFGI can provide a list of insurance providers that previous clients have used to assist with searching for an insurance provider.​

How long does it take to obtain a J-1 Visa?

After CFGI issues a Trainee's or Intern's DS-2019 and sends him or her the visa application package, the Trainee or Intern must then complete a DS-160 form, "Application for Nonimmigrant Visa," and schedule a visa interview at a U.S. consulate abroad. Wait times for interviews and J-1 Visa processing times vary from country to country. To learn more about visa interview wait and visa processing times, please visit www.travel.state.gov and select Visa Wait Times. We encourage Trainees and Interns to apply for a visa as soon as possible after receiving the SEVIS information. ​

What should a J-1 participant bring to the visa interview?

Bring the following documents to the visa interview:

  • DS-2019 form (provided by CFGI);
  • DS-7002 form (provided by CFGI);
  • SEVIS fee receipt (provided by CFGI);
  • Confirmation of submission of the online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application form DS-160 (visit the DS-160 website to  learn more about the DS-160 online process);
  • Passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity end date of at least 6 months beyond the intended period of stay in the United States;
  • One (1) 2" x 2" photograph (please see photograph requirements for more information); and,
  • Letter of support from CFGI to the U.S. consulate in a sealed envelope (provided by CFGI).

Additionally, please note that Exchange Visitors must demonstrate to the consular officer that they have binding ties to their foreign country of residence and have no intention of permanently residing in the United States. In other words, they must demonstrate that they are coming to the United States for a temporary period, after which they will return to their country of residence. Demonstrating this nonimmigrant intent is critical, as any concerns about an Exchange Visitor's intent can result in the denial of their visa application.

Exchange Visitors should also review embassy- and consulate-specific instructions by visiting the U.S. Department of State's website and accessing information for the embassy or consulate at which they will apply.​

The U.S. embassy/consulate has denied a Trainee's or Intern's J-1 Visa. What are the next steps?

In the event of a visa denial, a Trainee or Intern should notify both his or her host organization and CFGI immediately. The candidate should provide as much detail as possible as to the reason for the visa denial and submit any documentation that was received from the consular official regarding the denial. The consular office may cite a specific issue (e.g., lack of home-country ties, lack of financial resources, etc.) or may require additional documents. If the issue is resolvable, the candidate can potentially reapply for a J-1 Visa. Ultimately, consular officers have the discretionary authority to determine whether or not to issue a J visa. 

A candidate's J-1 Visa was issued. What are the next steps?

Host organizations should assist candidates with coordinating travel arrangements, housing, transportation and other program logistics prior to the program start.​

When can a Trainee or Intern come to the United States after receiving their J-1 Visa? 

Exchange Visitor Program participants cannot enter the United States more than 30 days prior to their program start date. Additionally, if they will be arriving after their original program start date as indicated on the DS-2019, they must notify CFGI immediately. Depending on the new date of arrival, CFGI may need to amend the individual's J-1 program.

For any amended programs, participants and host organizations must ensure that the Exchange Visitor Program participant maintains a valid J-1 Visa in their passport in order to enter the United States and start their program. If an Exchange Visitor Program participant does not possess a valid visa stamp, then they will have to apply for a new visa stamp at a U.S. consulate overseas prior to departing for the United States using their amended J-1 sponsorship documents.​




During the Progr​​am

What documents need to be sent to CFGI after an Exchange Visitor Program participant arrives in the United S​tates?

Please send the following documents to CFGI:

  • Exchange Visitor U.S. Address Verification Form completed and signed by both the participant and a host organization official;
  • Copy of the DS-2019 form;
  • Copy of the electronic I-94 form, which can be retrieved from http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94-instructions;
  • Copy of the above documents for each J-2 dependent (if applicable); and
  • Certificate showing completion of CFGI's online orientation for J-1 Exchange Visitors.

After receiving the arrival verification documents, CFGI will validate the Exchange Visitor Program participant's Trainee/Intern program in SEVIS. All of the materials must be sent to CFGI within 10 days of the program start date as listed on the DS-2019 form. If the materials are not sent, participants are at risk of entering "no-show" status, which will negatively impact their ability to enter the United States in the future.​

How can a participant apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)?

J-1 participants who receive wages from U.S. host organizations need to apply for SSNs to report their wages to the government. To apply for a SSN, an Exchange Visitor must:

The Social Security Administration office will mail the Exchange Visitor's number and card as soon as it has verified the documents with the issuing offices, usually within 10 days.

Participants are not able to begin the application process for a Social Security Number until after they have arrived in the United States, their arrival verification documents have been submitted to CFGI and their J-1 program has been validated in the SEVIS system by CFGI.​

Do Trainees and Interns have to pay taxes?

J-1 participants receiving a salary or stipend from the U.S. host organization's payroll are subject to U.S. federal and state taxes throughout their program. However, J-1 participants are exempt from paying Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) taxes. For more detailed information, please speak with your host organization's HR department or a tax professional.​

What is the I-9 Form?

For J-1 Exchange Visitor programs, Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and training program/internship authorization of individuals participating in the program. Host organizations may be required to complete and retain I-9 Forms for Exchange Visitors. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not issue Form I-766 or Employment Authorization Cards to Exchange Visitors. The following combination of documents is considered to establish both identity and employment authorization for Exchange Visitors:

  • The Exchange Visitor's unexpired foreign passport. 
  • DS-2019 Form (Exchange V​sitors cannot work after the program end date on this form).
  • A valid I-94 form indicating J-1 nonimmigrant status.

To determine if the I-9 process is required for a particular Exchange Visitor Program participant, please consult with your HR or immigration personnel.​

What if the host organization needs to change the Trainee/Intern plan, locations and/or program dates?

The host organization should notify CFGI immediately and submit an Application for Amendment of Training.

For any amended programs, participants and host organizations must ensure that the Exchange Visitor Program participant maintains a valid J-1 Visa in their passport in order to enter the United States and start their program. If an Exchange Visitor Program participant does not possess a valid visa stamp, then they will have to apply for a new visa stamp at a U.S. consulate overseas prior to departing for the United States using their amended J-1 sponsorship documents.​

Can a J-1 training program be extend​​​ed?

If necessary, an Exchange Visitor Program participant's host organization can initiate a program extension with CFGI, provided it can demonstrate the need for additional time to complete the scope of the training. The maximum duration is 18 months for a training program and 12 months for an internship. Program extensions cannot exceed these maximum periods. CFGI will issue an Exchange Visitor Program participant a new DS-2019 form when the program is extended.

For any extended program, if the Exchange Visitor Program participant's J-1 Visa stamp expires prior to the end of the extended program then a new visa stamp will be required if the Exchange Visitor Program participant needs to travel outside the United States and reenter in J-1 status prior to the end of their program.​

Can an Exchange Visitor Program participant travel internationally during their J-1 program? What should they bring with them?

To view information on traveling internationally during a J-1 program, click here.​

What needs to be done if an Exchange Visitor Program participant moves to a new residence during his or her J-1 program?

If a participant moves or changes their residential address during their training program, he or she must notify CFGI with their new address immediately.

They must also submit an AR-11 Change of Address form to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within 10 days of moving.​

What needs to be done if a participant loses their DS-2019 form?

Participants must notify their host organization as soon as possible as CFGI will need to reissue their DS-2019. Please note that CFGI charges a $600 replacement fee for lost DS-2019 forms.​

What needs to be done if a parti​cipant loses his or her passport?

Participants should immediately contact their embassy or consulate in the United States to request a new passport. The J-1 Visa stamp does not need to be replaced in the passport unless he or she will travel internationally and need to re-enter the United States. If a participant travels abroad and wants to return to the United States, he or she will need to apply for a new J-1 Visa at a U.S. consulate abroad.​

What will happen to an Exchange Visitor's J-1 Visa status if he or she withdraws from the Trainee/Intern p​rogram?

If an Exchange Visitor Program participant plans to withdraw from his/her program or end his/her program prior to the scheduled end date, he or she must notify the host organization and CFGI immediately. CFGI will update SEVIS to shorten the J-1 program to reflect the new end date of the program.  Per Department of State guidance, participants that have their program shortened are eligible for the 30 calendar-day grace period following the new end date of their shortened J-1 program.​

What needs to be done if the J-1 Visa stamp in an Exchange Visitor Program participant's passport expires during the program?

If a participant does not plan to travel internationally and re-enter the United States, he or she does not need to apply for a new visa stamp. If a participant will travel internationally and re-enter the United States, he or she must apply for a new visa stamp in order to re-enter the United States and continue the program.​

Are there other documents that CFGI needs during a Trainee/Intern program?

Host organizations are required to complete and submit program evaluation reports to CFGI for each J-1 Exchange Visitor. Host organizations must submit an evaluation for all participants at the conclusion of a program. For programs longer than 6 months, host organizations must also submit a midpoint evaluation.​ Find participant and host organization supervisor evaluations here.

Can an Exchange Visitor change his or her visa status while on the J-1 Visa?

CFGI does not facilitate changes of status. Every Exchange Visitor is expected to successfully complete the J-1 program and depart the United States at the program's conclusion. While the change of status process is legally permissible through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, this practice is viewed very negatively by the U.S. Department of State, as the intent of the J-1 program is for the Exchange Visitor to depart the United States at the end of the program. Changes of status can jeopardize CFGI's ability to sponsor future J-1 programs for the host organization.​




After Progra​​m Completion

How long can a J-1 participant remain in the US after his or her program ends?

Provided the Exchange Visitor Program participant successfully completes the full program, he or she has a 30-day "grace period" to settle his or her affairs and leave the United States after the program end date. During this grace period, he or she may not continue the Trainee/Intern program and cannot travel outside the United States and re-enter on the J-1 Visa. Every Exchange Visitor must depart the United States by the end of the grace period to avoid going out of visa status.​​​

Can an Exchan​​ge Visitor Program participant (or their J-2 dependents) remain in the United States after the completion of the Trainee/Intern program?

No. Exchange Visitor Program participants must depart the United States by the end of the 30-day grace period (discussed above) after the completion of their program. Any J-2 dependents connected with the J-1 program must also depart the United States at the conclusion of the training or internship.

Individuals who complete their training or internship program earlier than the scheduled end date listed on the DS-2019 form do not receive the 30-day grace period and must depart the United States immediately upon the conclusion of their J-1 program.

If an Exchange Visitor Program participant stays past the program end date and the subsequent grace period, CFGI must and shall report this overstay to the U.S. Department of State. Overstaying a J-1 Visa is illegal and could limit a person's ability to obtain a future visa to the United States.​

What documents must be submitted to CFGI at the end of a J-1 program?

Host organizations are required to complete and submit a final evaluation report at the program's conclusion. The evaluation report can be found here​.

Can host organizations host the same J-1 Exchange Visitor Program participant for another program?

The current J-1 Visa is only valid for a participant's current J-1 exchange program as sponsored by CFGI. Upon completion of the current J-1 program, Exchange Visitors are expected to depart the United States. Eligibility for participation in additional J-1 programs varies on a case-by-case basis, and any additional programs require a new J-1 Visa application. J-1 Trainees must wait at least two years before pursuing participation in any additional training programs under the J-1 Visa. J-1 Interns, however, can participate in additional internship programs provided that 1) they remain eligible for the J-1 Intern category; and 2) they depart the United States and re-establish home-country ties prior to applying for an additional J-1 program.​

What is the two-year home-country physical presence requirement?

When participating in an Exchange Visitor program, Exchange Visitors will be subject to the two-year home-country foreign residency requirement if the program meets any of the following criteria:

  • The program is funded by either their home government or the U.S. government;
  • The program involves specialized knowledge or skills deemed necessary by their home country (as determined by the Exchange Visitor Skills List); or
  • As part of the program, the candidate receives graduate medical training.

If the program meets any of the above criteria, the Exchange Visitor must return to their home country for a cumulative total of two years after the end of the J-1 program. Exchange Visitors subject to the two-year residency requirement are not prohibited from traveling to the United States during this period, but they do not qualify for certain employment and family-based visas until they satisfy the residency requirement.​ ​

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