Host Company Resources Guide
Download the list of unskilled occupations here, as defined by the U.S. Department of State. These positions are prohibited on the J-1 Intern/Trainee programs.
Use the following resources for information about Department of States rules & regulations surrounding casual and unskilled labor:
Download template here. This version contains CETUSA’s Supplemental Placement Information page (3).
This document provides instruction for how to complete the Form DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan.
Q. What is the difference between the J-1 intern and J-1 trainee program?
A. Interns must be currently enrolled in an academic degree program outside the U.S. or have graduated within the past 12 months, and their programs must be directly related to their field of study. Trainees must have a foreign, academic degree and at least one year of work experience outside of the U.S., both of which must be directly related to their proposed training.
Q. What is the purpose of the J-1 visa?
A. The purpose of the J-1 visa is to provide individuals with the opportunity to experience American culture, learn new skills, and share their own culture and experiences with Americans. The J-1 visa program is administered by the U.S. Department of State and is open to individuals from a wide range of countries and backgrounds. The program is designed to promote international understanding by allowing foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to participate in a variety of programs, including study, research, and professional training and internship programs.
Q. What are the benefits of hosting J-1 trainees/interns (participants)?
A. Some of the benefits include gaining new perspectives and insights from participants’ diverse backgrounds, increasing cultural understanding and diversity within the workplace, and potentially establishing long-term business relationships with participants’ home countries.
Q. What is the minimum and maximum duration of each program category, and can participants programs be extended?
A. All internships are limited to 12 months, while trainee programs (except hospitality and tourism or agriculture programs) are limited to 18 months. The minimum program duration is 3 weeks. Programs can be extended at the discretion of CETUSA, but the extension period can never exceed the maximum duration allowed for the respective category.
Q. Are there industry-specific requirements to host participants?
CETUSA is designated to sponsor programs in a wide range of fields that fall under the following categories:
- Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing
- Arts and Culture
- Education, Social Sciences, Library Science
- Hospitality and Tourism
- Information Media and Communications
- Management, Business, Commerce and Finance
- Public Administration and Law
- The Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics, and Industrial Occupations
If you are unsure whether the program you are offering falls into the list above, please contact CETUSA.
Q. What would make my business ineligible to host participants?
A. The factors may include but are not limited to, a low number of W-2 employees, no office/remote style of work, no direct supervisor on site, not having a worker’s compensation policy in place (if not required by law), litigation, financial insolvency, serious OSHA violations, negative reviews on third party reference websites (e.g., Glassdoor, TripAdvisor, Yelp), negative evaluations from past J-1 participants (if a repeat host). In general, potential hosts with any factors that can bring the program into notoriety or disrepute will not be sponsored.
Q. What are my responsibilities as a host company?
A. At minimum, a Host Company must agree to provide a structured training program according to the training plan (Form DS-7002), provide daily, on-site supervision by qualified personnel for the duration of the participant’s program, encourage cultural activities, and complete required program evaluations.
Q. Do I have to provide housing and transportation for my participants?
A. Unless your business has employee housing available, participants must arrange housing on their own. It is the responsibility of each program participant to find and secure their housing for the duration of their programs. All program participants are responsible for their housing, transportation, and living expenses during their programs.
Q. We already have a candidate in mind who needs J-1 visa sponsorship. Can CETUSA help?
A. Yes. All companies must work with an authorized J-1 visa sponsor organization that can facilitate Trainee or Intern program sponsorship. CETUSA will advise you on the documentation you need if you have identified an applicant.
Q. How do I recruit and select potential participants?
A. CETUSA has a pool of screened candidates in a variety of industries who are eligible to participate in training or internships in their occupational fields. Our placement team will recommend resumes and help arrange video conferencing interviews where you can meet with applicants face-to-face and decide if you wish to offer them a training opportunity.
Q. What are the costs associated with hosting participants?
A. There are no program, visa, or placement fees to host participants. However, there are program fees that program applicants pay to obtain their visa sponsorship and accident & sickness insurance. While there is no requirement for your business to pay any fees, your company can offer to pay those fees on behalf of the applicant.
Q. How many hours per week should the participants be training?
A. The program regulations require a minimum of 32 hours per week of supervised, on-the-job training for the duration of a participant’s program. It is common to provide 40-hours of training per week. Overtime is discouraged, but not prohibited; participants must agree to overtime. If participants take a vacation or are out sick, it is understandable that the weekly hours requirement will not be met.
Q. What is the difference between the J-1 visa and the H1-B visa?
A. The J-1 visa, and the H1-B visa are entirely different with unique criteria and applications. The purpose of the J-1 exchange visitor program is to provide a cultural and training experience only. The purpose of the H-1B visa is temporary employment in a specialty occupation. The J-1 visa is not designed, nor will it require participant(s) to engage in any form of temporary or temporary to hire work. CETUSA and the U.S. Department of State do not condone in-country changes of status. The participant should remain in the J-1 visa status throughout the entirety of their program and shall return home upon completion of the program.
Q. When can participants start their programs?
A. Programs can start any day of the year if applicants meet program eligibility criteria, which may restrict their begin date.
Q. Which taxes apply to J-1 visa holders?
A. Most J-1 visa holders are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes, and therefore are exempt from paying FICA (Social Security) and FUTA (federal unemployment taxes) taxes during their first two calendar years in the U.S. or parts thereof.
Q. Can participants continue working in the U.S. after their program ends?
A. Participants are temporarily in the U.S. Their nonimmigrant status ends 30 days after their program end date, and they are required to depart the U.S. within this time frame. This visa program cannot be used as a means of filling a staff or labor shortage, so companies cannot use the program to hire long-term employees.
Q. What is the DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan, and why is it important?
A. Form DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan is a template required by the U.S. Department of State for the J-1 Intern/Trainee categories; it is an integral part of the program and serves as a contract between the sponsor, your business, and participant. A well-crafted and detailed training plan that meets the requirements of the J-1 visa program can strengthen the application and increase the chances of approval, while a poorly written or inadequate training plan can lead to a visa denial.
Q. How long does the process take for applicants to receive their J-1 visa, and can the process be expedited?
A. We recommend beginning the application process 6 to 8 weeks before the intended program start date. Once all required documentation is submitted, CETUSA reviews and processes applications in approximately 7-10 days. CETUSA does offer a rush processing option which guarantees application review within 3 days. However, if a site visit is required, the process may take longer.
The J-1 visa interview timeline is contingent on the workload of the U.S. embassy or consulate where the applicant is applying for their visa. After CETUSA accepts a participant’s application and mails them their visa documents, it takes an average of 2-4 weeks to secure a visa appointment. Keep in mind that wait times for visa appointments may be longer than average in the Spring and Summer.
Q. What language proficiency is required for participants?
A. Participants must have a sufficient level of English proficiency to participate in the structured training program and to function in daily life in the United States. Prior to their program sponsorship approval, CETUSA screens each applicant to ensure their English skills are sufficient for the program.
Q. Is there a limit to the number of participants I can host at a time?
A. You can host multiple J-1 participants at a time if your company has the resources to provide a structured and supervised training program for each participant. However, there is a limit to the number of J-1 participants you can host at once. The exact limit depends on several factors, including the size of your company and the availability of qualified participants. CETUSA looks to ensure a ratio of 1 participant for every 10 full-time staff members under your company’s employment. However, if you are unable to meet this requirement, CETUSA will consider your company if we can ensure that the J-1 participant will have sufficient supervision throughout their program.
Q. Can participants apply for additional J-1 training programs after completing their initial program?
A. Participants may be eligible for additional training programs. Interns are eligible for additional internship programs if they continue to meet the main eligibility requirements of an intern. Trainees are eligible for additional training programs after residing at least two years outside of the United States following the completion of their original training program. For both trainees and interns, additional programs must address the development of more advanced skills or a different field of expertise.
Q. How is the performance of participants evaluated?
A. No. The training/internship activities must take place in-person with an on-site supervisor, providing ongoing feedback to the participants. The purpose of the program is to promote the exchange of ideas between participants and host company, which is best accomplished by daily, face-to-face interactions.
Q. Are there any restrictions on the type of work participants can carry out?
A. Yes. Participants must be engaged in a structured training program that is directly related to their field of expertise, and as outlined in their Form DS-7002. They cannot perform work that is unrelated to their approved training/internship program. The following are prohibited: any unskilled or casual labor positions, positions that require or involve childcare or elder care, or in clinical or any other kind of work that involves patient care or patient contact, providing therapy, medication, or other clinical or medical care (e.g., sports or physical therapy, psychological counseling), nursing, hairdressers, dentistry, veterinary medicine or animal care, social work, speech therapy, early childhood education), or any other activity outlined in 22. C.F.R. 62 Appendix E.. Quick service restaurants and other counter service positions are also prohibited.
Q. What is the role of the sponsor organization in the J-1 trainee/internship program?
A. The sponsor organization is responsible for screening and selecting potential participants, ensuring that the training program meets the requirements of the J-1 visa program, and monitoring the participant’s progress throughout the program.
Q. Can participants bring their family members with them to the United States?
A. Yes. Participants may bring their spouse and/or children with them to the United States on J-2 dependent visas. However, the participants must be able to demonstrate that they have sufficient financial resources to support their dependents during their stay in the U.S.
Q. Can participants begin training without a Social Security Number (SSN)?
A. Yes. Participants may begin training without a Social Security Number (SSN) as long as they have applied for an SSN and can provide proof of their application, such as a receipt from the Social Security Administration.
Q. What happens if participants become ill or injured during their program?
A. All CETUSA program participants are enrolled in mandatory accident and sickness insurance that exceeds the minimum coverage requirements set by the U.S. Department of State. Your business is not required to provide participants with insurance coverage, but you may offer it to them. Any injuries during the training hours are subject to your company’s worker’s compensation policy coverage.
Q. What happens if participants decide to leave the program early?
A. If participants decide to leave the program early, they must notify CETUSA of the reasons of their premature departure, complete their final evaluation, and return to their home country promptly.
Q. Should participants receive monetary compensation during their program?
A. Yes, J-1 trainees and interns are allowed to receive a stipend from their host company during their program which must comply with FLSA guidelines and be consistent with the prevailing wage for a similar position that they are trained in. Unpaid, or less-than minimum wage internships that meet FLSA guidelines will be considered on case-by-case basis.
Q. Can J-1 participants get second jobs to supplement their income?
A. No. Participants on the J-1 visa do not have unrestricted work authorization and can only get paid by their approved host company. Any employment, including but not limited to, part time work, private tutoring, self-employment, and other forms of cash-based earnings is in violation of the federal regulations and may result in a participant’s program termination.
Q. What happens if participants are not meeting training expectations?
A. Supervisors should address concerns with their participants directly and provide feedback on their performance. If participants are unable or unwilling to improve, CETUSA must be notified and will work with you to help resolve the issue. If you decide to end a participant’s training early, CETUSA will determine whether the participant is eligible for a transfer to a different host company or required to shorten their program and return home. It is important for your company to document any performance issues and the steps taken to address them.
Q. What happens if participants violate program regulations or CETUSA rules?
A. CETUSA’s sponsorship is conditional on participants complying with program rules and regulations required for J-1 visa holders. Failure to comply with these rules can make them subject to withdrawal of CETUSA sponsorship and termination from their program. Participants must immediately return to their home country if their program is terminated.
Q. Does CETUSA conduct a drug test or background check on applicants?
A. No, but the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the participants apply for their visa conduct their own criminal background check prior to issuing a visa. If such screening is a part of your pre-employment screening, the participants will need to comply.
Q. Our company uses E-Verify. How should we handle E-Verify submission if the security number is still in process?
A. To create a case in E-Verify, you need a Social Security Number (SSN). If a new employee hasn’t received their SSN, attach an explanation to the Form I-9 and wait for their number. Create a case using their SSN as soon as you get it. If you can’t create a case within three business days, choose “Awaiting Social Security number” in E-Verify.
Q. When and how should participants apply for their Social Security Number?
A. Participants should apply for an SSN at a Social Security Administration (SSA) office in person, near you. They can apply only after having validated their program with CETUSA and in SEVIS. The SSA will process their application and issue an SSN card, which should be received by mail within a few weeks. Failure to follow these instructions may result in delays.
Q. Can we pay participants more than what was originally agreed upon?
A. Yes, but any substantial changes in stipend must be documented in SEVIS, so you must notify CETUSA.
Q. Can the cost of housing that our company pays for be supplemented for the stipend amount to meet the minimum wage requirement?
A. No, the cost of housing paid for by your company cannot be included in the stipend amount to meet the minimum wage requirement per FLSA guidelines. However, your company may provide housing as part of a participant’s benefits package and will be classified as a non-monetary compensation which helps the participant meet the funding requirement.
Q. Is our company required to pay an over-time rate if participants are training more than 40 hours a week?
A. Yes, if participants are training more than 40 hours per week, they are entitled to overtime pay.
Q. Can participants train in another department if they want more hours, if not a part of their originally agreed upon training program?
A. No, training activities that are not listed in Form DS-7002 are not permitted without written authorization from CETUSA.
The U.S. Department of Labor and Wage Hour Division created a fact sheet that provides information about internship programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Download here.
The I-94 document serves as a record of your entry and exit from the United States and can be downloaded from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) I-94 website. This document serves as proof of your lawful admission into the country, your foreign admission number, length of stay, and J-1 status while on the program.
I-94 records are manually populated by CBP officers and, at times, typos and errors occur. If you notice an error in your I- 94 record or cannot view your I-94 record upon entering your biographic information, it may be necessary to have your I- 94 record corrected.
To ensure that your I-94 information is accurate, you must download a new form every time you travel in or out of the U.S.
Two examples when a correction might be necessary include:
- Missing I-94 for most recent entry – “Not Found”
- Incorrect information on your I-94, including misspelled name, incorrect date of entry, incorrect date of birth, incorrect class of admission (visa type), etc.
Before contacting the deferred inspection office, CBP has provided additional instructions to assist foreign nationals in obtaining Form I-94 out of the CBP automation system. If you cannot locate the Form I-94 on the CBP website, and receive a “Not Found” message, it is possible that the Form I-94 does not exist because of a system error. The record is most likely there, but the data is formatted differently than you have entered. To help you address the issue:
- Verify that you have entered your first and last name the same way it appears on your passport.
- Verify that you’ve entered the passport number that appears on the upper right-hand side of your passport.
- Verify your correct country of citizenship (country that issued the passport, not where you currently live).
- Switch the order of your names. Switch the last and first name when entering the information on the website.
- Enter multiple first names or multiple last names without spaces. If you have two first names or two last names, type the first names without a space between them or the last names without a space between them. (example: enter “Jose Luis” as “JoseLuis.”)
- Enter the first and middle name in the first name field. In the first name field, type your first and middle name (if any) with a space in between. Do this even if your middle name is not stated on your passport or visa.
- Check for multiple passport numbers. Check the passport number indicated on your visa stamp. If the passport number is different than your current passport number, enter the passport number as indicated on your visa.
- Do not enter the year if it is included in the passport number. Some passport numbers may begin with the year in which the passport was issued, causing the number to be too long for the relevant field in CBP’s automated system. (Example: a passport issued in 2019 has a passport number that starts with “19” followed by nine digits. The passport number should be entered without the “19.”
If none of the above efforts resolve the issue, you must contact a CBP Deferred Inspection Office near you. Most I-94 correction requests can be handled via email, though occasionally a trip to their field office is required. Some of the deferred inspection offices have been able to resolve the problem over the phone without an in-person visit; however, other offices may require an in-person visit.
The CBP’s Deferred Inspection unit is usually located at your nearest international airport, but they also have field offices in certain metropolitan areas. You can locate the nearest field office along with their contact information here.
Errors found in the Travel History portion of the I-94 record cannot be corrected by CBP. If you find an error in your most recent I-94 entry record, please contact CETUSA for further assistance.
If you are contacting CBP via email, you will need to compose a clear message explaining your situation, requesting assistance, and providing essential documentation. You should receive a notification once your request has been processed. The following draft can be used as a template:
To: (copy email address of your nearest deferred inspection site)
Subject Line: I-94 Correction – Passport # (insert number) – J-1 (Intern or Trainee) Dear CBP Deferred Inspection:
I am requesting correction of my I-94 arrival record. This is because (explain your issue here). I entered the United States through (city/airport name) on (date) in J-1 status.
The following documents are attached to this email in support of my request: (remember to attach these documents).
- Passport biographical page
- Visa stamp
- Form DS-2019 used for entry in J-1
- I-94 entry record showing my most recent admission (if applicable)
- Screenshot from the I-94 travel history showing my entry (if available)
I request that my I-94 record be updated to show my most recent entry in J-1 status. Here is additional information that may help with this request: (provide the information below)
- Country of Citizenship:
- Date of Birth:
- Passport Number:
- SEVIS Number:
- S. Visa Number:
- Visa Expiration Date:
- Requested Class of Admission:
- Requested Admit Until Date: D/S (this stands for Duration of Status and applies to J-1 visa holders)
- Date of Last Arrival:
- Port of Entry: (provide city/airport name where you entered the US) Thank you for your assistance.
Sincerely, (insert full name)
The primary purpose of the J-1 Trainee/Intern Exchange Visitor Program is to provide people from around the world with an opportunity to increase their knowledge and understanding of U.S. culture. A well-rounded program that includes meaningful cultural experiences must be offered to your participant(s). These experiences must give them a chance to interact with Americans (both inside and outside their training environment) and gain firsthand knowledge of American society, culture, and values. If you need help coming up with ideas for ways to implement this type of engagement with your participant(s), please refer to the list of ideas below.
- Organize lunches, celebrations, and employee gatherings on or off site.
- Talk about American sports and recreation, then pick a sport to teach your participant(s) to play, creating a league with competitive games. Go to a game/match (high school, college, professional) all together.
- Recommend popular American and local restaurants and food trucks.
- Talk about the American culture/history of philanthropy and volunteerism and then arrange a day of volunteer work with your participant(s).
- Talk about the American economy, crafts, and trade, and then plan a day at a county fair and/or a local trade show. Meet the local farmers, small business owners, crafts people.
- Talk about American cultural and religious celebrations. Celebrate U.S. holidays with families and community groups. Talk about the meaning of the day.
- Talk about American cultural expression. What music/dance is unique to the host region (country, western, jazz, local high school bands, square dance lessons, etc.)? Arrange dance classes, go to a show or concert with your participant(s). Give the participant(s) a chance to share and compare their culture.
- Organize a series of American culinary evenings where participants can learn to cook and eat the results! Use food as a conversation thread to talk about American traditions, customs, and history. Share the recipes and include some cross-cultural evenings for visitors to share and teach their own culinary traditions.
- Visit with or encourage your participant(s) to explore art galleries, museums, festivals, historic landmarks, scenic locations, etc.
- Encourage your participant(s) to take trips and explore other parts of the U.S.
- If your participant(s) want more opportunities to practice English, provide them with resources for available English classes or conversation groups.
- Take your participant(s) to see a movie or performance at a local theater.
- Visit with or encourage your participant(s) to visit a nearby theme park.
- Introduce your participant(s) to resources in the community, such as libraries or shopping centers.
- Encourage your participant(s) to participate in local tours, such as sightseeing, architecture or food tours.
- Provide information about Native American culture. Discuss the importance surrounding Thanksgiving, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, or encourage them to visit a Native American museum.
- Organize departmental luncheons, happy hours, and introduce your participant(s) to other people.
- Attend charity events with your participant(s).
- Invite participant(s) to events outside of their training environment (birthday parties, BBQs, excursions, hiking, biking, etc.)
- Inform your participant(s) about local exercise classes, such as yoga, pilates, spinning, kickboxing, etc., and learn about common fitness practices in your participant’s home country.
- Engage in seasonal activities with your participant(s), such as pumpkin carving contests, picnics, sledding, beach days, bonfires, holiday markets, etc.
Participating in the J-1 cultural exchange program can be a rewarding experience for both participants and host company. By having trainees and interns from all over the world, your organization and business will be introduced to fresh perspectives in the workplace. Below is a list of resources to help cultivate successful professional relationships in a multi-cultural workplace.
- How to Communicate Effectively in a Multicultural Environment: webinar on communication on various levels with examples from popular television shows and movies. This webinar covers communication through tone, body language and physical artifacts.
- Cross-Cultural Communicaton Confusion: Five Tips for Communicating Across Languages and Cultures: Webinar series by Howard Community College that focuses on the skills employers and business professionals need to know to succeed in today’s multicultural work environment.
- Bridging Two Kinds of Cultural Diﬀerences – HBR Video: Blythe Mcgarvie, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, describes the key areas in which cultures diﬀer and how to diagnose where you and your colleagues are on those continuums.
The following articles give tips on how to approach communication in a manner that is beneﬁcial to all team members. Additionally, they can help shift the dynamic of the workplace to a globally focused environment.
- 33 Tips on Working in Multicultural Teams
- 6 Multicultural Teams – Principles of Management
- The 7 Habits of Highly Eﬀective Multicultural Teams
- Summary of “Resolving Conﬂict in a Multicultural Environment”
- “Diversity Competence: Cultures Don’t Meet, People Do” by Edwin Hoﬀman, Arjan Verdooren: this book emphasizes the importance of intercultural interactions. The purpose of this book is to help individuals accept and navigate the unpredictability that can arise in intercultural relationships in a multitude of settings.
- “The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business” by Erin Meyer: this book provides a framework for understanding cultural differences in communication and offers practical advice for working with people from diverse backgrounds.
- “Intercultural Communication: A Reader” edited by Larry A. Samovar and Richard E. Porter: this book is a collection of essays and articles on intercultural communication, covering topics such as cultural stereotypes, nonverbal communication, and the impact of culture on language.
- “Communicating Across Cultures” by Stella Ting-Toomey: this book explores the cultural dimensions of communication and provides strategies for building intercultural competence.
- “Cultural Intelligence: Surviving and Thriving in the Global Village” by Brooks Peterson: this book introduces the concept of cultural intelligence and offers practical advice for navigating cross-cultural communication and working effectively in multicultural environments.
- “The Silent Language” by Edward T. Hall: this classic book explores the hidden cultural messages that underlie communication, including the role of time, space, and nonverbal cues in cross-cultural communication.