Written by attorney Enrica Manduco

A valid alternative to the H1B visa: The J1 trainee


The J-1 Visa Program is not created to permit US companies to fill the position of a regular employee. The purpose is to provide J-1 applicants with opportunities for professional growth, relevant experience in the field chosen for training, and a better understanding of the US society and culture. J-1 trainees are expected to share the professional knowledge acquired in the US upon returning to their home country. It is also true that this particular J-1 visa allows participants to receive a stipend as any other employee of the company.

** J-1 Visa Trainee Program Requirements**

In order to apply, the prospective J-1 trainee must:

  1. Have a US Company, which per J-1 visa purposes is called Host Company, willing to offer a training for up to 18 months or an internship for up to 12 months in one of the following fields: Information, Media, Communications, Management, Business, Commerce, Finance, the Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics, or Law
  2. Know English well enough
  3. Be enrolled in and pursuing studies at a post-secondary academic institution outside of the United States; or
  4. Be graduated from such an institution no more than 12 months prior to the program begin date; or
  5. Have a degree or professional certificate from a foreign post-secondary academic institution and at least one year of prior related work experience in your occupational field acquired outside the United States, or
  6. Five years of work experience outside the United States in your occupational field

An applicant who wishes to apply for a J-1 visa must obtain the Certificate of Eligibility Form from the Government Designated Organization. Upon successful result of the first part of this process, it will be possible to start the request for the actual J-1 visa. As all visa applications process, an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate is required.

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