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Programs:

FAQs

THE FAQs ARE DIVIDED INTO THE FOLLOWING SECTIONS:




Prospective Applicant FAQs:
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1. What occupational categories can the American Immigration Council sponsor?
The American Immigration Council is designated by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor J-1 intern and trainee programs in the following occupational areas:

• 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

2. How long can the internship or training program be?
Intern programs have a maximum duration of 12 months. Trainee programs have a maximum duration of 18 months.

3. What are the minimum qualifications for an international intern?
Potential J-1 interns must be able to document and/or demonstrate the following to meet basic eligibility requirements:

• Sufficient English language fluency (to be determined by American Immigration Council staff)
• Current enrollment at a post-secondary, degree-granting academic program outside of the United States or
• Graduation within the past 12 months from such post-secondary academic program outside of the United States

4. What are the minimum qualifications for an international trainee?
Potential J-1 trainees must be able to document and/or demonstrate the following to meet basic eligibility requirements:

• Sufficient English language fluency (to be determined by American Immigration Council staff)
• Post-secondary degree related to the field of the training and one (1) year of related work experience, both of which were gained outside of the United States or
• Five (5) years of related work experience outside of the United States

5. Is there a minimum age or age limit?
The International Exchange Center has a minimum age requirement of 18 years for participation in our programs. There is no maximum age for program participation.

6. Can the American Immigration Council sponsor an international intern or trainee who was previously in another J-1 program?
Yes. Applicants who meet eligibility requirements are considered regardless of any past J-1 internships or other J-1 programs, such as summer work/travel, camp counselor, or visiting scholar. Trainees need to reside outside the U.S. for at least two (2) years between successive J-1 training programs.

7. Can the American Immigration Council sponsor a J-1 trainee applicant who has recently completed F-1 practical training?
Yes. However, the applicant must still have a degree and work experience gained outside of the U.S. and their training program must be significantly different from their OPT.

8. Can J-1 applicants sponsored by the American Immigration Council file for a change of status?
No. The American Immigration Council will not damage its relationship with the U.S. Department of State by sponsoring the J-1 visa for individuals who intend to file for a change of status.

9. What are the first steps needed to apply for the J-1 visa?
First, secure a host organization willing to sponsor the internship or training program and meets the sponsorship requirements of the American Immigration Council (see Host Organization FAQs). Next, take the short survey: Is Our J-1 Cultural Exchange Program Right for You? If you qualify, you will receive instructions on how to apply.

10. What documents do I need to for my J-1 program application?
You will need to scan and upload a range of documents. All submitted documents must be in English or the original document plus the English translation. These include:

• All pages of your passport. The passport must be valid for at least six (6) months after the program end date.
• Diploma(s) or degree certificate(s)
• Educational transcripts(for Intern applicants and for Trainee applicants whose degree doesn't clearly match the field of training)
• Resume or CV in English, or the original plus the document translated into English
• Employment verification and reference letter(s) from past/current employer(s) for the Trainee applicant
• Biographic page of J-2 dependent's passport (photo and biographical data page)

Please note that the application can be started and saved if the documents need to gathered.

11. How fast is the processing time for an application?
Applications are reviewed on the Friday or Monday prior to the scheduled webcam interview. A decision will be reached on the case following the webcam interview and receipt of all program materials.

12. How and when do I book my webcam appointment?
The International Exchange Center at the American Immigration Council conducts a video interview with each applicant prior to approving internship or trainee proposals for sponsorship. Interviews are booked using the online scheduling tool. While host organizations or attorneys may book the interview, it is ultimately up to individual applicants to schedule the interview appointments in a timely manner.

13. What if the webcam appointment time needs to change?
If any changes need to be made to the Skype appointment schedule, we will contact applicants individually. If you will not be able to attend the interview or if you need to update/change your contact information, use the "Cancel/Reschedule" link at online scheduling tool. Email questions to J1program@immcouncil.org.
 
14. What happens during a webcam interview?
Prepare by reviewing your DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan and recalling past visits to the U.S, including for tourism purposes. You will be asked general questions about the proposed internship or training program. Next, we will describe the process of obtaining your DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility and supporting documents. Next, we will discuss the process of applying for the visa online and attending the in-person interview at a U.S. consulate. Canadian citizens do not need an in-person interview at a U.S. consulate. Finally, we will discuss our role as your cultural exchange visa sponsor and explain what you must do to remain in good standing throughout your stay in the United States.

15. When do I book my Consulate interview and when do I make travel arrangements?
Book your in-person interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate after receiving the package sent by the American Immigration Council containing your DS-7002, DS-2019, I-901 and additional information on the visa process. Finalize your travel arrangements once you have received your visa.  

16. What are the fees?
Total fees can vary based on the type of application service requested and the specifics of the case. An up-to-date breakdown is on our Fees page. Fees include the following services:

• Screening and processing of J-1 training program application
• Shipping of Certificate of Eligibility (Form DS-2019) to accepted applicants
• SEVIS fee payment to the U.S. government
• Identification of Sickness & Accident Insurance meeting U.S. government requirements for J-1 visa holders
• Participant and host user handbooks
• Orientation and program materials
• Consulting on the J-1 visa process
• Program monitoring and on-going support to J-1 trainees and host organizations
• Certificate of Completion
• Government reporting and compliance with SEVIS requirements

17. What is the refund policy?
Applicants are eligible for a partial refund of program fees in the case of host organization or foreign national withdrawal prior to the issuance of form DS-2019 and/or prior to consular processing. SEVIS and Application Review fees are nonrefundable. The American Immigration Council is unable to provide refunds due to rejection by a U.S. consulate.

18. Can you sponsor a J-1 applicant if the internship or training program was found by a recruitment or placement agency outside of the U.S.?
Due to internal policy, the American Immigration Council does not work with placement agencies or foreign recruiters.

19. How do I find a Host Organization?
The American Immigration Council does not offer internship or trainee placement services. For suggestions on how to find a host organization, please view the following resource materials:

Tips on Finding a J-1 Internship in the US
Presentation: Grow Your Network to Find an Internship in the US

 





Current Trainee/Intern FAQs:
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1. How and when do I apply for a Social Security number?
Before you can apply for a Social Security number (SSN), you need to submit your follow up information report to the American Immigration Council. This is the first step toward getting an SSN because it allows us, as your J-1 sponsor, to activate your SEVIS status. Wait at least three (3) business days after submitting this information before applying in person for the SSN at the Social Security Administration (SSA) office closest to the host organization. Bring your original DS-2019 form, the active status letter, a printout of your I-94 status and your passport. Visit the SSA website to find the closest office. Click here to download the SS-5, which is the form needed to apply for your Social Security card.

2. Do I need a Social Security number in order to begin my training or internship?
If there are delays in obtaining your SSN, this does not prevent you from beginning your training or internship and receiving remuneration. The SSA website has instructions to the employer on how to pay renumeration while awaiting the receipt of a Social Security number. If more than three (3) weeks have passed from the time you applied for your SSN and you still have not received a response from the Social Security office, call Social Security's toll-free number at 1-800-772-12131-800-772-1213 . Also please let the American Immigration Council know.

3. Do I need to pay taxes?
Yes. If you receive compensation from your U.S. host organization, you are subject to U.S. local, state and federal taxes.

4. How do I replace a lost passport?
If your passport has been lost or stolen, you will need to replace it immediately. First, file a police report as soon as possible by going to the closest police station and reporting your passport as lost or stolen; if possible, bring copies of the missing documents (passport, visa and DS-2019 form). Next contact your home country’s embassy or consulate in order to apply for a replacement passport. Report the loss of the J-1 visa in your passport to the U.S. consular post responsible for issuing the visa.

5. How do I replace a lost DS-2019?
If you've lost your DS-2019 form, let us know by email. We require an explanation on where you last had the form. There is a $50 fee for processing the replacement DS-2019 form.

6. My address has changed. How do I update the information?
You are required to let the American Immigration Council know within 10 days. Log in to your FluidReview account to update your information. We will then update our records in SEVIS.

7. I've completed my Mid-point Evaluation am not advancing to the Final Evaluation/Extension phase. Why not?
In all likelihood, your direct supervisor has not completed a Mid-point Evaluation. If your supervisor's name is not listed as a Member Owner in your file, s/he has not been receiving any emails about the evaluations. Go to the Add Members tab on your submission page and invite your direct supervisor to become a member. Once the membership is confirmed, the Mid-point evaluation can be completed and you will advance to the next stage.

8. What do I need to do if I need to end my program more than 30 days early and the program started after January 1, 2014?
Both you and your supervisor need to complete the final evaluation forms in Fluidreview. You will be asked for a brief explanation on why you ended early for your SEVIS records.

9. What do I need to do if I need to end my program early and the program started before January 1, 2014?
Complete the following survey: End-of-Stay Evaluation for J-1 Trainee/Intern
Have your supervisor complete the other half:  End-of-Stay Evaluation for J-1 Supervisor
Send a brief explanation on why you ended early for your SEVIS records.

10. How do I extend my training or internship?
Internships can extend up to 12 months and training programs up to 18 months. A request for extension may be submitted no sooner than 30 days before the program end date. Download the Extension Request Packet link by clicking this hyperlink or on the right side column of this page under "Download Resources."

After opening the download, both you and your supervisor will need to fill out and sign forms requesting the extension. The package must be submitted along with a revised DS-7002, an extension fee and fees for additional insurance. Payment can be made on this secure online payment form: http://www.internationalexchangecenter.org/payment-form.

11. How do I bring over my spouse and/or children under the age of 21 as J-2 dependents?
Each J-2 applicant will need to be issued a DS-2019 form to apply for the J-2 visa outside the United States at a U.S. consulate. The following documents must be uploaded directly to the applicant’s online case file:

• Passport biographical page (picture and biographic data) for each J-2 dependent
• Statement from the J-1 acknowledging that the J-1 and J-2 dependents must leave the U.S. when the J-1’s duration of status expires
• Letter from the host organization acknowledging that the J-2 will join the J-1 in the U.S. and that the changed circumstances will not negatively affect the J-1’s ability to complete the training program
• Evidence of adequate financial support for the J-2 while in the United States
• Payment of the $400 Dependent fee
• Address in J-2's home country and additional contact information for sending send the application materials
• Verification of insurance coverage for each J-2 that meets the Department of State requirements, either through IMG or by other approved insurer

12. Are J-2 dependents allowed to work in the U.S. during my training or internship?
Yes. J-2 dependents are eligible for work authorization and should apply through a USCIS regional service center. For more information and to access appropriate forms, please visit the USCIS website.

 





Traveling as a J-1 and J-2 FAQs:
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1. Can I travel outside of the United States during my training or internship?
Yes. Before you can travel outside of the country for the first time, at least two (2) weeks prior to your date of travel you need to send your original DS-2019 form(s) to our office for a Travel Validation signature. Include the Travel Validation Request form signed by your training supervisor. Send all documents to the following address:

American Immigration Council
International Exchange Center
Suite 200
1331 G Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20005

We strongly recommend obtaining a tracking number, either when sending via U.S. mail or courier service.

2. What is a Travel Validation?
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) require that all J-1 Trainees/Interns and J-2 dependents have their DS-2019 forms validated for travel taking place outside the United States. The Travel Validation signature lets U.S. customs officers know your J-1 visa sponsor (the American Immigration Council) is aware you are traveling outside the U.S. during your J-1 program. Obtaining the signature will help you avoid delays at the port of entry when you return from traveling abroad.

3. How long is my Travel Validation valid? Do I need to send in my DS-2019 every time I travel?
The signature is valid for up to 12 months from the date the form is signed. As long as you present your DS-2019(s) to the U.S. Customs officers when you return to the country, you can leave and reenter multiple times. If your training program extends past the 12 month mark, you will need to get an additional endorsement. However, every additional time you travel outside of the U.S., you must email the American Immigration Council the dates of your travels.

4. What do I do if I have to travel urgently and plan to leave very soon?
 If you will be traveling in less than two (2) weeks, send the DS-2019 and the signed Travel Validation Request form via an overnight courier service, such as Fedex or UPS. Include a self-addressed and paid overnight envelope in the packet so we can rapidly return the signed form.

5. What happens if I need to leave the United States unexpectedly without a Travel Validation?
If you have a valid DS-2019 and J-1 or J-2 visa, you will be permitted to enter the United States. You may be subject to additional verification questions from U.S. customs. Or, you may be admitted conditionally on 515(a) status. Notify us immediately. You will have only 30 days to comply with the 515(a) requirements.

6. Can my J-2 dependents also travel outside the U.S. during my J-1 training program or internship?
Yes. Each J-2 dependent must have his/her DS-2019 form signed by the Responsible Officer at the American Immigration Council. The J-2 visa holder can travel independent of the primary J-1 visa holder. However, when traveling alone, the J-2 must carry copies of the J-1's immigration documentation.

7. What else do I need to do before traveling outside the United States?
Check your visa expiration date. You will not be allowed to enter the United States--or in many cases, even board a plane flying to the United States--with an expired visa in your passport, even if you have a valid DS-2019 that says your training program or internship has not ended. If your visa will expire while you are traveling outside the U.S., and you plan to reenter the U.S. to continue your training program, you must apply for a new J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate in the country where you are a resident.

The process for applying for the J-1 or J-2 visa while traveling abroad is the same as when you first applied. Fill out the DS-160 form on the embassy or consulate website, pay the visa application fee, schedule an appointment and then visit the US consulate for an in-person interview. Although a visa denial is highly unlikely if you have remained in compliance with your immigration status, it is not guaranteed you will be issued a second J-1 or J-2 visa just because you were issued one before your program began.

8. What should I do when I get back to the United States?
When you return from abroad, upload a pdf copy of your I-94 Admission Number Confirmation. This is a three step process: look up your number; upload it on the home page of your Fluidreview file as an Add Document under Attachments, which is located in the right column; and (very important) email J1program@immcouncil.org to let us know it is there.  

9. Can I travel in the U.S after my program ends?
Yes. Following the completion of the program, participants are allowed a 30-day "Grace Period." You may no longer continue and/or complete exchange activities nor work. Although participants may travel in the U.S, it is recommended not to travel beyond the borders of the United States because you may not be permitted reentry on J-1 status.

Use the training end date on your DS-2019 form as day 1 of the 30 days. When calculating your 30 day grace period, do not use the visa expiration date on the visa in your passport—these dates only refer to the period during which you can enter the U.S., not when you must leave. To close your program in good standing, we need to receive an End-of-stay Evaluation from you and your supervisor. Remember, you must be covered by insurance until you leave the U.S.

10. Do I need travel validation if I am traveling within the United States during my training?
If you are away from your host site for 10 days or more, you must notify us and email your travel itinerary, which includes the dates of travel and places of stay. If you are traveling for a conference or other professional gathering, this information must be included in your DS-7002 training plan.





Host Organization FAQs:
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1. What occupational categories can the American Immigration Council sponsor?
The American Immigration Council is designated by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor J-1 internship and trainee programs in the following occupational areas:

• 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

2. What are the minimum qualifications of a prospective host company?
Potential host companies must be able to document and/or demonstrate the following to meet basic eligibility requirements:

• the proposed training/internship is in an occupational category the International Exchange Center is designated to sponsor
• the host company has established a bona fide training program
• there is qualified personnel to provide the proposed training/internship
• there is appropriate facility and equipment to provide the proposed training/internship
• the J-1 exchange visitor will not be engaged in ordinary employment
• the J-1 exchange visitor will not be used to fill a position that could be occupied by U.S. workers
• fewer than ten percent of total staff members are in a J-1 exchange visitor program

3. Does the size of the company matter?
The International Exchange Center sponsors trainings and internships at host organizations of all sizes, from boutique law firms to Fortune 500s. However, size does matter. The Department of State requires potential hosts with fewer than 25 full time employees or less than $3,000,000 in annual revenue be visited by a representative of the American Immigration Council before hosting an exchange visitor. In addition, the American Immigration Council requires that the site where the exchange visitor will receive training have a minimum of six full-time permanent employees.

4. Can start-ups host J-1 exchange visitors?
We require most J-1 training organizations to have been in operation for at least two years (24 months) and have at least six full-time employees on the site where the exchange visitor will receive training. The total number of J-1 participants cannot exceed 10 percent of the total number of full time employees.

5. Why does my organization need a Host Site visit?
Federal J-1 program regulations require that host organizations with fewer than 25 employees or less than $3 million in gross annual revenue be visited and the site approved by an American Immigration Council representative prior to hosting an applicant for the first time.

6. What happens during a Host Site visit?
The Host Site visit usually takes about 30 minutes. By meeting a new host face-to-face, it helps ensure that the J-1 trainee/intern and the host organization will have a positive exchange experience. During the visit, the American Immigration Council (the sponsor) staff member or representative verifies that the host organization possesses and maintains the ability and resources to provide structured and guided work-based learning experiences according to ihe training plan and understands and will meet their obligations.

7. Is there a limit as to how much a J-1 trainee or intern can receive in the form of remuneration?
There is no minimum or maximum limit to remuneration. However, exchange visitors need to be able to demonstrate financial support sufficient to fully meet anticipated expenses. Our rule of thumb is that total financial support must equal at least three times (3x) the reasonable rent in the host community.  Host organizations should be aware that very high remuneration may give the impression of employment rather than training.

8. How do I put a J-1 trainee/intern on the company payroll?
Please refer to IRS publication 515 for instructions on filling out a W-4 form for a J-1 exchange visitor: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p515/index.html.

9. Do exchange visitors need a Social Security number in order to begin their training or internship?
Trainees and interns can begin their programs prior to receipt of a Social Security number. If the SSN is significantly delayed, please refer to the Social Security website: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/employer/hiring.htm.

10. Can a trainee/intern receive remuneration without a Social Security number?
Yes. Exchange visitors can receive remuneration prior to receipt of Social Security numbers. There is no law preventing host companies from paying trainees or interns while they wait to receive Social Security numbers.

11. Can a training or internship be extended?
Yes. Training and internship programs can be extended to the maximum program length. Internships can extend up to 12 months and training programs up to 18 months. A request for extension may be submitted no sooner than 30 days before the program end date. Download the Extension Request Packet link by clicking this hyperlink or on the right side column of this page under "Download Resources."

Please submit the following materials to the International Exchange Center (we recommend with a tracking number):

• An evaluation of the J-1’s progress in the current training plan
• A letter from the training/internship supervisor explaning the extension request
• A revised DS-2007 training/internship placement plan detailing activities to take place during the extension
• Proof of insurance coverage for the exchange visitor and any J-2 dependents during the extension period
• Payment of $300 to cover extension fees

Payment can be made on the secure online payment form: http://www.internationalexchangecenter.org/payment-form.

12. Can a trainee or intern return for a second training or internship program after the first has been completed?
Yes.Trainees and interns are eligible to participate in additional training and internship programs under certain conditions. Additional training and internship programs must address the development of more advanced skills.

Interns may participate in additional internship programs as long as they maintain student status or begin a new internship program within 12 months of graduation. Potential trainees are eligible for additional training programs after a period of at least two years residency outside the United States following their first training or intern program.

There currently is no limit to the number of J-1 training or internship programs an individual may complete.





Attorney FAQs:
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1. What types of J-1 exchanges can the American Immigration Council sponsor?
The International Exchange Center of the American Immigration Council is designated by the Department of State to sponsor intern and trainee J-1 programs.

2. What occupational categories can the American Immigration Council sponsor?
The American Immigration Council is designated by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor J-1 programs in the following occupational areas:

• 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

3. What are the minimum qualifications for program participants?
Minimum qualifications for intern, trainee, and host organization eligibility are detailed in our Intern/Trainee and Host Organization FAQs.

4. What are the fees for sponsorship?
Total fees depend on the type of application service requested and specifics of the case. Please refer to our Fees page.

5. What is the refund policy?
Applicants are eligible for a partial refund of program fees in the case of host organization or foreign national withdrawal prior to the issuance of form DS-2019 and/or prior to consular processing. The International Exchange Center is unable to provide refunds due to rejection at an U.S. consulate. SEVIS and Application Review fees are nonrefundable.

6. Does the International Exchange Center accept electronic signatures on application materials?
Yes. Electronic (faxed or scanned) signatures are acceptable on all International Exchange Center application materials as well as on the DS-7002 form.

7. Can passport holders from another country currently in the U.S. change status to a J-1 trainee or intern visa?
No. The American Immigration Council requires that all potential exchange visitors consular process in their home countries or in any country in which they hold a legal status.