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How can a J-1 Trainee Visa Support Temporary Work Arrangements?

By January 23, 2023Immigration
A J-1 Trainee working on his laptop

The J-1 Trainee visa can be an option for temporary work arrangements that has training and education as its primary component, where the beneficiary has a related degree from their home country and has foreign work experience in their field.

What are the requirements to be a J-1 trainee host organization?

Not every organization can host a J-1 trainee. To be eligible as a host, the company must meet certain requirements, including the following:

  • The organization must have been operational for at least 2 years.
  • The organization must have at least 6 full-time employees at tie site where the trainee will be placed.
  • The organization must have the appropriate facility, equipment, and personnel available to provide daily on-site supervision of the trainees.

See here for a full list of host organization requirements.

What are the requirements to be a J-1 trainee beneficiary?

The beneficiary must fall under one of the two categories:

  • Have a degree or professional certificate in the relevant field from a foreign post-secondary academic institution and at least 1 year of prior related work experience outside the U.S., OR
  • Have at least 5 years of work experience outside the U.S. in the relevant field.

Can the J-1 training position be in any field?

There is a limited array of fields the J-1 trainee program is available for. They must fall within the following categories:

  • Arts and Culture
  • 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
  • Tourism (management-level only)* (*limited to 12 months).

How long can a J-1 trainee visa be granted for?

A J-1 trainee program is generally limited to 18 months. In some categories, such as tourism, the limitation is 12 months.

Two-year home residency requirement

An important consideration for the J-1 visa is that the trainee is required to return to their home country and reside there for at least 2 years before applying for another visa or apply for an immigrant visa. There are procedures through which one may apply for a waiver of this 2-year residency requirement.

How can a host organization arrange the J-1 trainee visa?

It is possible for private employers to apply directly to Program Sponsors to have their program be approved for the J-1 trainee arrangement. Only designated Program Sponsors designated by the Department of State have the authority to issue a DS-2019, with which the beneficiary can apply for a visa at a consulate.

Private employers can submit the application through filing the Form DS-7002 (Training Placement Plan) directly to a Program Sponsor and if approved, the Sponsor will issue the DS-2019. Then, the beneficiary himself or herself will apply for the J-1 visa at the consulate in their home country. Note that USCIS is not involved in this process.

Spouses of J-1 visa holders

It can be an advantage that spouses of J-1 visa holders are allowed to apply for work authorization through filing Form I-765 to USCIS, and can be issued Employment Authorization Documents (EAD), with which they can work for any employer in the U.S. while they accompany the J-1 visa holder.

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