General Program Information | About Interns & Trainees | Application Process | Comepnsation & Taxes | Support During the Program
The questions and answers below are designed to help you host talented international interns and trainees. If you have a question that’s not answered here, just call, email, or message us on WhatsApp.
General Program Information
What does InterExchange Career Training USA do?
InterExchange Career Training USA helps U.S. businesses benefit from hosting international internship and training programs. InterExchange is designated by the U.S. Department of State to provide J-1 Visa sponsorship to international interns and trainees who meet our J-1 program requirements.
What is the purpose of the program?
The primary objectives of InterExchange Career Training USA are to enhance the skills and expertise of exchange visitors in their academic or occupational fields through structured and guided programs that improve participants’ knowledge of American techniques, methodologies, and technology. Participation in our Career Training USA program must not be used as a substitute for ordinary employment or work purposes nor may it be used to displace American workers.
Internship programs are work-based learning opportunities in students’ or recent graduates’ academic fields that enable them to develop practical skills that will enhance their future careers and bridge the gap between formal education and practical work experience. Trainee programs must include bonafide training and cannot simply be additional work experience.
The program increases international participants’ understanding of American culture, while also enhancing Americans’ knowledge of foreign cultures, customs and practices. Through this program, the U.S. Government builds partnerships, promotes mutual understanding, and develops relationships and extended networks that will last through generations as participants move into leadership roles in a broad range of occupational fields in their home countries.
Why should I host an international intern or trainee?
International interns and trainees bring an international perspective, foreign language skills, and a variety of other talents and experiences. Additionally, trainees can be part of your company longer than most American interns—up to 18 months—and can begin their program at any time during the year. Learn more about the benefits of international internships and trainee programs.
Won’t it be expensive to host an international intern or trainee?
The program is very affordable. There are no program, visa, or placement fees for employers to host an international intern or trainee.
If you are an employer with fewer than 25 employees and less than three million dollars in annual revenue, we are required by program regulations to perform a site visit at your organization. There is a one-time fee of $250 to perform a site visit. If your company is approved and you successfully host an intern/trainee through the program, no additional visits or fees will be required.
What is a J-1 Visa?
The J-1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa issued through the BridgeUSA Program. There are 15 J-1 Visa categories, and InterExchange Career Training USA offers the “Intern” and “Trainee” categories.
Once approved for J-1 Visa sponsorship by InterExchange, all Career Training USA participants, except Canadian citizens, will be required to interview at a U.S. embassy/consulate in order to be granted a J-1 visa.
I would like to host an intern or trainee. How do I know whether he or she is eligible?
Review our participant eligibility requirements on our website.
How do I know if my company is eligible to participate in the program?
Please review the host employer requirements on our website to determine eligibility.
Is my industry eligible?
InterExchange is designated to sponsor programs in a wide range of fields that fall under the following categories:
- Arts & Culture
- Information Media and Communications
- Management, Business, Commerce and Finance
- Public Administration and Law
- The Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics and Industrial Occupations
- Hospitality and Tourism
If you are unsure whether the internship or training program you are offering falls under our list of fields, please contact InterExchange.
What types of training are prohibited?
Not all employers are permitted to host through InterExchange. We cannot approve participants for sponsorship at the following locations:
- Agricultural settings, such as farms or in wineries’ harvesting operations
- Behavioral health facilities
- Bridal companies
- Camps (Consider our Camp USA program for camp positions)
- Candy stores, mall kiosks, boardwalk booths, and stands
- Convenience and grocery stores or superettes/mini-markets (consider our Work & Travel USA program for seasonal positions)
- Call center, customer service, or phone operators, including tech and help desk support
- Fast food or quick service restaurants or bakeries (consider our Work & Travel USA program for seasonal positions)
- Fitness studios, gyms, pools, dance studios, personal training, or coaching
- Gardens or parks
- Gas stations or toll plazas
- Landscaping companies
- Pool management companies
- Real estate agencies
- Retail stores or locations and boutiques
- Schools and other instructional facilities
- Spas, salons, or dog grooming companies
- Staffing agencies
In addition, we are not able to sponsor programs in which interns or trainees would participate in:
- Animal care
- Child care
- Elder care
- Clinical work that involves any patient care or contact
- Sports or physical therapy
- Psychological counseling
- Veterinary medicine
- Social work
- Speech therapy
- Early childhood education
If you require staff at one of the locations mentioned above or would like seasonal staff to assist with tasks that are not appropriate for Career Training USA participants, our Work & Travel USA program may be able to help meet your needs.
Are there special requirements for hospitality hosts?
Yes, the following requirements apply to hotel/hospitality management, hotel food and beverage management, restaurant management, and culinary arts.
- InterExchange does not permit business-only (finance, accounting, human resources, etc.) programs in hotels, resorts, inns, or restaurants.
- Interns and Trainees wishing to train in hospitality or restaurant management positions must have hospitality or restaurant management education (interns) or work experience (trainees) in order to be able to rotate through various departments.
- At least three rotations for programs six months or longer is required by the regulations. No rotation may be more than three or four months long, and each department must have sufficient, qualified staff to offer adequate training.
- NOTE: InterExchange will not be able to sponsor Hospitality programs with Housekeeping Management phases.
- Per the U.S. Department of State regulations, all Hospitality Management, Restaurant Management and Culinary programs are limited to 12 months regardless of whether the individual is an Intern or Trainee.
- Hospitality Interns and Trainees may not return to properties at which they have previously worked on a Work and Travel program or other work visa.
- Education or work experience only in Tourism Management does not qualify Interns or Trainees for programs in Hospitality Management, as those fields are not interchangeable.
|Should be rated 3-Diamond or higher by AAA, or rated 4-Star and above by Forbes.||Must be high-end, fine dining, sit-down restaurants OR full-service banquet halls.|
|All unrated properties will be considered on a case-by-case basis.||All properties will be considered on a case-by-case basis.|
|Motels||National chains, casual dining restaurants, pubs, pizza parlors|
|Hostels||Fast food, delivery/takeout restaurants, bakeries|
|Hotels that do not meet the above requirements||Kiosks, stands, food trucks|
Acceptable Types of Training
Remember that participants must rotate through departments and roles. Therefore, they may train in any given category for only one phase.
|Hotel/Hospitality Management||Restaurant/Food and Beverage Management||Culinary Arts|
|Front Desk||Restaurant/Food and Beverage Management||Kitchen equipment and food-handling safety training|
|Concierge||Restaurant Inventory or Management/Buying||Recipe development|
|Hotel or Restaurant Inventory/Buying||Catering/Event Planning||Inventory/food sourcing|
|Back Office/Business Management||Staff Training and Development||Different stations/food styles|
|Food and Beverage Management||Restaurant Business Areas||Menu planning|
For questions about other types of tasks, please contact InterExchange.
Prohibited training tasks or positions
|Hotel/Hospitality Management||All Areas|
|Bussing Tables||Running Food|
|Night audit or any training that occurs in the overnight hours|
As part of an overall management training, participants may briefly train in hosting, waiting tables, food preparation, etc. to learn basic skills needed to pursue management-level training within a department. However, the combination of such basic tasks may NOT exceed 20% of the entire training program. For culinary participants, food preparation may constitute a larger percentage of their program but only for high-skill tasks contributing to their training.
Host employers who require wait staff, housekeepers, bellhops, short order cooks, etc., are encouraged to learn more about our InterExchange Work & Travel USA program.
About Interns & Trainees
What’s the difference between an intern and a trainee?
Review the differences and requirements for the intern and trainee categories on our website.
When can interns and trainees start their programs?
Interns and trainees may begin their programs any day of the year.
How long can they stay at my company?
Interns can train for up to 12 months. Trainees can train for up to 18 months, except for Hospitality and Tourism Trainees, who may only train for a maximum of 12 months.
From which countries can I recruit interns and trainees?
We can provide visa sponsorship for applicants from any country in the world, provided the candidate meets program requirements.
I need to hire permanent staff. Can I hire an intern or trainee?
No, the J-1 Intern and Trainee Visas are temporary exchange visitor visas designated for the purposes of training—not for regular employment. For more information regarding work visas, please visit www.uscis.gov.
Can interns and trainees have more than one job?
No, per the J-1 Visa regulations, interns and trainees are not allowed to have second jobs. They are only permitted to intern or train for the organization on their DS-2019 Form.
Do you have a pool of intern and trainee candidates?
No. InterExchange Career Training USA does not offer placement services so we do not have candidates that we can recommend.
How long does the process take?
We recommend that you and your participants begin the application no less than 6 to 8 weeks before the intended program start date. Our review time is approximately 10 days once we receive both a complete application and full payment. We cannot review your application until all documents and payment have been submitted.
If a site visit is required, the review process may take longer. Please note that wait times for visa appointments can be longer than average during the summer months, so make sure to plan accordingly.
I have found a candidate(s). How do we begin the application process?
You can either sign up and invite your interns/trainees to the online application or ask them to apply online and then invite you to the application.
What is required for the Training/Internship Placement Plan (DS-7002)?
The training plan should include a detailed outline of what the internship/training program involves, including what the interns/trainees will be doing and how they will be trained by your organization. There should be a rotation or phase for every 3-4 months of training, and each phase must be different and build off the previous phases.
The training plan you create for your participants is a legally binding document, and the training you offer during the program should match what’s outlined in the plan. Keep in mind that the training program cannot include unskilled labor or more than 20% clerical work. Your interns or trainees should be doing professional-level tasks, with ongoing training and supervision by your team. Remember that the participants are here for cultural exchange and training and are not meant to be viewed as normal employees or assistants. Misuse of the program is considered visa fraud.
Please see our Guide to Developing a Successful Training Program.
Do I have to create a new Training/Internship Placement Plan (DS-7002) everytime I want to host a J-1 intern or trainee?
Once you have successfully hosted a J-1 participant through our program, you can visit an existing training plan and copy phases to your new participant by using the Copy Phases button.
What cultural exchange opportunities should I offer my participants?
Check out our suggestions for cultural activities, including company activities and traditions, sporting events, happy hours, and holiday parties.
What documents is my company required to provide for the application?
All host employers must provide the following required documents:
- Proof of a workers’ compensation policy or equivalent insurance that covers J-1 participants (or proof of exemption)
- Either a DUNS number or copy of your business registration
- Obtain your business registration here
- A Federal Identification Number
How can I pay the program fee on behalf of my interns or trainees?
You can make a payment on our website. Please remember to select Career Training USA as your program and to list the name of the applicants in the Description. Once the payment has been made, please send the receipt so we can mark the participants off as paid and begin the application review process.
If InterExchange approves our application, are my interns/trainees guaranteed to get a visa?
The decision to grant a visa is the U.S. Embassy’s/Consulate’s alone. While visa denials are rare, they do occur. InterExchange has no control over the U.S. Embassy’s/Consulate’s decision to grant or deny a visa application, but we will discuss options with you and your participants if they are denied a visa.
Compensation & Taxes
Should I pay my intern or trainee?
Trainees must be paid at least the local, state, or federal minimum wage, whichever is highest. Interns must be paid at least minimum wage if their program will be longer than 6 months or if it does not meet the Department of Labor’s test for unpaid interns (for programs of any length). Compensation and benefits should be determined with participants prior to their arrival in the U.S.
Do interns and trainees have Social Security numbers?
Most interns and trainees will need to apply for a Social Security Number after they arrive in the U.S. The application process could take 4-6 weeks, but participants should be allowed to continue training and get paid while they wait for their card to be issued. They will need to provide you with a receipt from the SSA that shows that they have applied for their Social Security Number. If interns or trainees have previously earned income in the U.S., they should have a Social Security number and card already.
How do I put my interns/trainees on our payroll before they have a Social Security Number?
You should first consult your payroll administrator or an HR professional.
If your company uses E-Verify, and your participants have not yet received a Social Security number, make a note on their Form I-9 and set it aside. The participants are still allowed to continue to train. As soon as your participants receive a number, you can create a case in E-Verify.
You can also follow these instructions on W-4s provided by the IRS:
- Paper Filers: If the participants applied for a card but didn’t receive the number in time for filing, enter “Applied For” in Box a. (Reference: IRS Instructions for Forms W-2/W-3)
- Electronic Filers: If the participants applied for a card but didn’t receive the number in time for filing, enter all zeros in the field for the Social Security number. (Reference: Specifications for Filing Forms W-2 and W-2c Electronically)
Am I required to provide housing for my intern or trainee?
You are not required to provide housing, but we do encourage you to offer some assistance to your interns/trainees as they seek housing in the U.S. InterExchange Career Training USA provides participants with a number of general resources on housing, transportation, and U.S. culture, but since we have participants located all across the U.S., you will be your participants’ best resource on finding housing and getting around in your local area. Consider offering your participants advice on the best neighborhoods, typical housing prices, and the best websites to use to look for housing.
Am I required to pay transportation costs?
No. Interns and trainees are able to arrange their own transportation independently, though you may offer assistance if you wish.
Do I have to provide health insurance?
All InterExchange Career Training USA participants have basic accident and sickness insurance that meets U.S. State Department requirements. This covers medical care if they get sick or injured while in the U.S., but it does not cover preventative care or pre-existing conditions. If you would like to add them to your health insurance plan so they can seek general care in addition to emergency care, you are welcome to do so, but they cannot waive their coverage of the accident and sickness coverage included in their program fee. This plan provides some required benefits mandated by the U.S. State Department that normal health insurance plans do not.
Are interns and trainees required to pay taxes?
Yes, both interns and trainees who are paid by their host employers are required to pay income tax. However, participants on a J-1 Visa are considered non-resident aliens, so they are exempt from paying Social Security (FICA), Medicare, and federal unemployment (FUTA) taxes and these should not be withheld from their paychecks. Please consult a tax professional to find out if participants are exempt from state unemployment taxes in your state.
Do interns and trainees have to file taxes?
Participants who are paid must file a U.S. tax return for the calendar year during which they trained with your company, even if they are no longer in the U.S. Make sure to send the participants their W-2 forms when it is time to file a tax return.
Support During the Program
What level of support does InterExchange Career Training USA offer throughout the program?
We offer 24-hour support throughout the entire program to hosts, interns, and trainees. We are open M-F 9:30am-5:30pm ET for general questions and concerns.
Our emergency line is (917) 373-0994 for any after-hour emergencies that arise. Call or email us us with any questions you may have regarding the program.
What if I want to hire additional interns and trainees for my company?
First ensure that your business still meets all program requirements, including the J-1 exchange visitor to full-time employee ratio, and then invite your intern or trainee candidate(s) to your application.
What do I do if I am not satisfied with my intern or trainee?
If you feel that your interns or trainees are not meeting your expectations, we ask that you first talk to the participants to make your expectations known and develop a performance improvement plan. We have found that a frank discussion about workplace issues often solves the problem. However, please do keep in mind that this is a training program. Your expectations for work and performance should be different than they are for normal employees.
Career Training USA is also available to talk to the interns or trainees to help resolve any issues. If the situation does not improve and you need to terminate the interns or trainees, please notify InterExchange Career Training USA as soon as possible so that we can assist your participants with any questions regarding visa status.
I’m really happy with my interns/trainees. Can they stay at my company longer?
If your participants have not yet met the maximum program length, you may be able to extend their programs. The maximum duration of the Internship program is 12 months and the maximum duration of the Trainee program is 18 months (12 months for Hospitality/Tourism). Extensions must demonstrate a plan for new and advanced training, which should build off of the initial training program.
Can I hire my participants for permanent positions after their programs end?
No. Participants must leave the U.S. at the end of their J-1 Visa programs, as this is a temporary cultural exchange program. Leaving the U.S. at the end of the program is a necessary part of completing the exchange, and this is specified in the federal program regulations for the J-1 Visa. It may be possible for the participants to return on work visas in the future but we are unable to assist or advise on this.