J1 Visa: Intern Program

The intern program is a J1 visa program that allows foreign nationals currently enrolled in or recently graduated from university to come to the United States to gain experience in their chosen profession by participating in an internship. The J1 visa intern program duration may be a maximum of 12 months.

J1 visa internships are available for the following categories.

  • Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
  • Arts and culture
  • Construction and building
  • Education, social sciences, library science, counseling, and social services
  • Health care
  • Hospitality and tourism
  • Media and communications
  • Management, business, commerce, and finance
  • Law and public administration
  • Sciences, engineering, architecture, mathematics, and industrial occupations

However, exchange visitors in the J1 intern program may not work in the following positions:

  • Unskilled labor positions
  • Positions involving child care or elder care  
  • Positions involving direct medical patient contact or care
  • Positions in which more than 20 percent of an intern’s time is spent on clerical or office support duties

J1 Internship Eligibility

In order for participants to be eligible for the J1 visa internship program, they must be:

  • A foreign national who is currently enrolled in a degree-granting or certificate-granting college or university outside the United States; or
  • A recent graduate of a degree-granting or certificate-granting college or university outside the United States (having graduated no more than 12 months prior to the start date of the J1 intern program).

J1 Internship Program Benefits

Participating in a J1 visa intern program is beneficial to participants in the following ways.

  • Provides practical, professional experience in field of study or chosen profession
  • In some cases, pays or leads to salaried positions within the company
  • Opportunity to learn about the culture of the U.S.

J1 Intern Program Sponsor Requirements

Much of the sponsor’s responsibility is to make sure the host company is in compliance with the exchange visitor program requirements. Sponsors are required to conduct site visits of host companies that:

  • Haven’t previously participated in the program
  • Have 25 or fewer employees
  • Have $3 million or less in annual revenue

Sponsors must collect the following documentation from host companies:

  • Employer Identification Number (or EIN)
  • Verification of host organization’s address, phone number, and other contact information
  • Proof that host company has worker’s compensation insurance coverage

In addition, sponsors must ensure that those who participate in the program for more than six months be evaluated by the employer halfway through and at the program’s conclusion. For internship programs lasting less than six months, an evaluation is required at the end of the program only. The sponsor must receive all evaluations (signed by the participant and immediate supervisor) prior to the end of the exchange program.

Host Employer Requirements

Host employers and other parties involved with the internship must ensure that the program is tailored to the participant’s experience and skill set. This is verified by signing a completed Form DS-7002 (Training/Internship Placement Plan, or T/IPP). Additional host requirements include the following:

  • Notify sponsor immediately in the event of an emergency or if there are any concerns about the T/IPP
  • Comply with all applicable occupational safety and health regulations
  • Comply with all rules and regulations for the internship program, as set forth by the sponsor
  • Maintain sufficient resources and trained individuals
  • Provide intern with ongoing support and mentoring
  • Make sure the intern learns the necessary skills and information through structured activities such as seminars and on-the-job training

Find an Internship Sponsor by visiting this list of designated sponsors for the J1 visa intern program.