Advancing in your career path is a long game. There is often not an instant reward for hard work. However, the journey itself can be rewarding if you are careful in your planning. For example, one clear method for gaining important professional experience while also enjoying the ride is securing a J-1 trainee visa.
This way, you can travel, experience a new culture, improve your language skills, and gather skills relevant to your field.
If you’re intrigued, read on to learn more about this winning program and how you can get involved.
What is a J-1 Training Program?
So, what exactly is a J-1 trainee? Let’s start with covering what the Exchange Visitor J-1 visa is. This is a document that allows individuals from outside of the U.S. to reside in the country for a defined period of time (generally 12-18 months). During this time, J-1 visa holders are Cultural Exchange Visitors in the U.S. The condition of their visa is that they will be participating in a program as an:
- Au pair
- Camp counselor
- College and University Student
- Government Visitor
- International Visitor
- Research Scholar
- Secondary School Student
- Short-Term Scholar
- Summer Work Traveler
- Or a (you guessed it) Trainee
Individuals who complete training programs can do so in a variety of fields, ranging from fishing, to hospitality to science. This means that going on a J-1 visa training program is likely a possibility for you, regardless of your professional field.
For example, one young Swede named Anna decided that she wanted some professional experience abroad after studying tourism and marketing. She found an opportunity in NYC with VisitSweden. As a visa J-1 trainee, she has the opportunity to do things like event planning and newsletter writing. Anna finds the training program to be a wonderful opportunity, noting that it can contribute to efforts to build your professional and social networks.
J-1 Visa Intern or J-1 Visa Trainee: What’s the Difference?
If this all sounds very familiar to you, we have to agree. The J-1 trainee visa is very similar to the Exchange Visitor Internship Program. However, there are a few key differences.
- Trainees are not students or recent grads
J-1 visa trainee requirements mean that trainees must have:
- A degree or post-secondary certificate from an institution outside of the U.S. AND at least one year of related experience outside of the U.S. OR
- At least five years of work experience in their training field
Visa J-1 interns, on the other hand, are generally students. To qualify as a J-1 visa intern, an individual must be enrolled in a university or college outside of the U.S. or have graduated from this institution in the past 12 months.
- Training programs are in professional fields
Because trainees are professionals, the programs they enter are in their career field. However, global internships occur in individuals’ fields of study, which will not necessarily align with the career they choose to pursue.
- Training programs can last longer than internships
J-1 visa USA internship programs last from 3 weeks to 12 months. However, training programs can potentially last longer (barring the field of hospitality). Training programs can last for 3 weeks to 18 months.
- Trainees must wait 24 months before completing another training program
Although trainees can sometimes reside in the U.S. longer than interns can, they will have to wait longer for a repeat experience. Interns are able to repeat their J-1 visa if they are still enrolled in a degree program or have graduated within the past 12 months, or they are enrolled in a new degree program. However, trainees (or intern applicants who no longer qualify for an intern program) must wait 24 months before beginning another training program.
Value of professional experience
You already know that building your resumé or CV is important for future job searches. If you want to advance in your career it is critical that you gain relevant skills and try out advanced opportunities. However, did you know that work experience is also important if you want to head back to school? It’s counterintuitive, we know. Nevertheless, many graduate programs look for applicants that have quality professional experience.
According to US News, work experience is important in MBA applications. There is no set amount of years in the workforce that admissions officers look for when accepting new students. However, demonstrating that you have had quality professional experience (in fields like finance and technology) will certainly help your application. So would a visa J-1 internship.
Value of intercultural exchange
Professional experience is important whether or not you are pursuing post-graduate education or a higher position. Additionally, global experience is also extremely marketable.
Duke Global outlines a few critical ways you can make your international J-1 visa internship or trainee program work for your future endeavors. Use the program for:
- Expanding your network
Networking in your country is great. Making global connections is golden. The economy is global and–no matter your field–having contacts from around the world will benefit you. When humans bring diverse ideas to the table and decide to cooperate, amazing things get done. Who knows where building international relationships will lead you.
- Accessing new professional resources
You may already have access to plenty of useful career resources in your country of residence. However, when you are abroad you can take advantage of a whole new set of resources. With an exploratory spirit and the courage to ask, you can open lots of new doors by virtue of being in a new place.
- Gaining unique experiences
When you return to your country of residence and apply for new professional opportunities there, your experiences abroad will help you stand out. Not everyone can say that they have mastered a new language and gained incredibly useful cross-cultural communication skills. If you complete a J-1 trainee visa program, be sure to highlight your experience in interviews afterwards.
How to Find and Apply for J-1 Visa Training Programs
Applying for trainee positions (or J-1 visa internship programs!) is much like applying for any other position. Good practices are combing through job boards and reaching out to your network for contacts and advice. Understand that you will likely have to send out many applications to secure the position you are looking for. That’s O.K.!
If you are having difficulty beginning this search, read on for some tips.
Companies that Hire J-1 Visa Holders
There are many U.S.-based companies that look for international talent. We will list and describe 10 companies that hire international visitors below.
You have likely heard of Accenture. It is a well-known company that holds offices in over 50 countries. Accenture is a strategy and consulting firm. They also specialize in security, digital, and cloud services. If you work in any of these spaces, look at their job boards or reach out to someone in your network who can connect you to a U.S.-based Accenture employee.
You know Adobe for its cutting-edge creative software (PhotoShop, Premiere, Lightroom, and more), but did you know that they play host to many international workers? If you are looking for an opportunity at the intersection of art and tech, start looking for positions at Adobe.
While Capitol One is a financial institution, their opportunities span other fields as well. They have positions in Human Resources, Design, Strategy, and Technology, in addition to the predictable Commercial Banking and Finance departments.
Cisco specializes in cybersecurity, switches, routers, and more. However, like Capitol One, not all of their opportunities are tech-based. Look at their employment page to learn more.
We’re sure you’ve already heard of Google. This world-renowned company is more than a search engine and has many competitive internship programs. Head to careers.google.com to learn more.
If you’d like to go into computer software development, then a training program at Microsoft might be right for you. They create and license many applications.
IBM (International Business Machines) delivers both hardware and software to many clients. They have opportunities in departments ranging from analytics to legal to research. Check out their website for more information.
Intel is also known for personal and business hardware and software and could be another good option if this is your chosen career field. However, if your aspirations fall outside of technology, still take a look at their opportunities. You might find something you like in other fields, like sales or security.
JP Morgan Chase is a well-known financial institution that works for individuals and businesses alike. While there are many areas of opportunity, this company is particularly great for potential trainees in finance.
Not only can you use LinkedIn to find a program, but you could also find a program at LinkedIn. This leading career networking site has business, technical, and creative opportunities. Give ‘em a look!
Assistance Finding J-1 Visa Training Programs
If you are struggling to find the right opportunity for you–or you’ve gone through job searches enough times to value some expert help–then work with us! We can help you build your personal brand with a global internship or training program.
We’re certain you are capable of looking on your own, but why do that when you could benefit from our decades of expertise and global connections? At Global Internships, we will match you with host companies based on your:
- Skill levels
- Professional goals
- Cultural interests
Plus, our services are comprehensive. We offer:
- Exclusive positions
- Year-round start dates
- Amazing customer service
- Emergency support around the clock
- Assistance with securing work authorization
- An international network of connections
Sound good to you? We thought so. To get help finding an amazing training program, contact your local Global Internships office. We are a global team to support you. We look forward to helping you begin an international adventure. Read on for more information about visas and other travel necessities.
Applying for a J-1 Trainee Visa: Quick Notes
Ready to apply for a J-1 visa training program? We’ll walk you through the steps to apply.
- Fill out the Intrax DS-2019 Application
The DS-2019 is a document you need to apply for a J-1 intern visa or a J-1 training visa. It verifies that you are eligible to receive this specific visa. You will need to fill out basic information about yourself and your host company. This includes addresses, phone numbers, and program start and end dates.
- Submit Documents
The DS-2019 also requires additional documentation. This includes the DS-7002 (the training placement plan that your host company will provide), proof of your English proficiency, your diploma or proof of work experience, your resumé or CV, and a copy of your passport’s biographical information page.
- Pay Fees
Because we provide many valuable services throughout the J-1 visa application process, you will need to cover associated fees. This could cost between USD $2000 and $4000. Prices will go up as program lengths increase. For a more specific estimate of service fees, please visit our J-1 Visa Pricing Calculator.
Please note that there are additional fees (paid directly to U.S. embassies) that are not included in our prices. For example, visa interviews cost USD $160. We also do not cover airfare, housing, and other living expenses.
- Verify Placement
Once you send us these documents, it’s time to verify that you have a position at the host company you referenced. At this point, let your host company know to keep an eye out for an email from us. We will set up a brief phone consultation with them to make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Attend Orientation
After verification, it’s time for orientation. While we do provide support services during your stay in the U.S., it’s important to us to ensure you are prepared before you head out. In our virtual orientation we will cover topics including:
- Living and working in the U.S.
- Department of State’s rules and regulations
- Interview advice
- Receive DS-2019
Once we receive all of your documents and fees, we will send the DS-2019 your way. You will need to bring this document to your J-1 trainee visa interview. The DS-2019 should arrive via FedEx no later than 4 weeks after we receive all of your materials.
- Complete DS-160
The DS-160 is the online nonimmigrant visa application. J-1 visas fall under this category. After filling out this application online, be sure to print the barcode page. You will need this later. You will also need to upload a photo of yourself. Once you have completed this application, it’s time to schedule your visa interview.
The Visa Interview: Last Step To J-1 Trainee Visa
Interviews can be daunting. We want to make sure you feel extra prepared so that you can enter your local embassy confident and ready to meet all of the J-1 trainee visa requirements. First things first: what should you bring with you to your trainee J-1 visa interview?
- Your passport. Remember that this must be valid for 6 months past your projected program end date
- The confirmation page of your DS-160 application
- Your application fee receipt
- The photo you uploaded with your DS-160
- Your completed DS-2019
- Your Training Placement Plan (DS-7002)
- Your visa appointment confirmation
- Any relevant financial documents
- Your transcript
Now, you might not need every single one of these during your interview. In fact, you probably won’t need them all. However, we recommend that you bring them all so that they are readily available if your interviewer does ask to see them.
Acing the Interview Questions
Before we share useful tips about answering interview questions, we want to remind you that how you present yourself is important. Dress how you would for a job interview. We’re not saying you need to come in a tux, but we are saying you should skip your old sneakers and opt for business casual attire.
Once you’ve arrived in your interview outfit, remember that the goal of the interview is to verify that you plan to complete your program and do not intend to stay in the U.S. past the training program end date. Officials also want to make sure that you have the proper educational, financial, and professional credentials. In other words, do you have the training you need to successfully complete this program? Can you afford this program? If not, where are you getting funding?
A great way to enter the interview confidently is to practice answering sample questions in English. This will help with both your language and response skills. Once you are in the actual interview, aim to be honest, concise, and prepared to answer questions about why you will return home after your program ends. For more advice on acing the interview, check out this article describing 10 Smart Tips To Confidently Answer J-1 Visa Interview Questions.
Exciting Global Horizons
Seeking international experience is a wonderful way to move toward your career goals. We are excited that you are taking steps to do this with a J-1 visa training program or internship.
With some hard work, determination, and willingness to reach out to your network, we are sure you’ll secure an opportunity and visa in no time. And of course, you’ll have us to provide plenty of expert help along the way.