DS-2019 and J1 Visa FAQs

Can I bring my wife, husband and/or children?

Your spouse and/or children may apply for the J-2 Visa to accompany you to the U.S. or join you later. Each dependent (spouse and/or unmarried child who is under the age of 21) wishing to enter the U.S. together with you should apply for J-2 Visa sponsorship at the same time you are submitting your application for the J-1 Visa. If a dependent wishes to join you in the U.S. later, they may apply separately.

You and your dependents need to possess sufficient personal funds to cover all living expenses while in the U.S., pay for round-trip air travel, and purchase adequate health insurance, both for yourself, your spouse and children. J-2 Visa dependents are not allowed to accept any employment while in the U.S. (unless under exceptional circumstances). Please note that applying for a J-1 or J-2 Visa at a US embassy or consulate does not guarantee that you or your dependents will actually be granted the J-1 or J-2 Visa.

 

Do I need to have health insurance for my training/internship?

Yes. It is required. All trainees and their dependents on the J Visa must be covered by a qualified health insurance plan that complies with the insurance coverage requirements of the U.S. Department of State for the entire duration of the training program. Before the visa sponsor can approve sponsorship, you and your dependents must show evidence of such compliant coverage, or purchase insurance through the visa sponsor.

To satisfy insurance requirements, your and your dependents’ insurance coverage must insure for at least:

  1. 50,000 U.S. dollars in case of medical evacuation.
  2. 25,000 U.S. dollars in case of repatriation of remains.
  3. 100,000 U.S. dollars of regular and customary medical expenses per accident or sickness
  4. A deductible amount that does not exceed 500 U.S. dollars per accident or sickness.

 

Can I buy insurance through Interswop or the Visa Sponsor?

Yes. If you need general health and accident insurance coverage, you can purchase the provided health insurance plan of Interswop´s or the visa sponsor´s insurance provider.

Interswop recommends that you purchase health insurance for the period you spend in the U.S. before your J-1 training begins as well as for the “Grace period” (the 30-day time period which you may spend in the U.S. after you have completed your J-1 training program.

 

Why do I need a Visa Sponsor and the DS-2019 form?

Only U.S. Department of State-designated J-1 visa sponsors are authorized to issue and send you the DS-2019 Form, also called Certificate of Eligibility. You need the DS2019 form to apply for the J-1 visa, which allows you to be a trainee/intern in the USA.

J-1 Visa Sponsors help ensure that your internship:

  1. Matches your education and experience
  2. Contributes to your acquisition of skills, knowledge, and culture
  3. Qualifies for sponsorship under the J-1 visa
  4. Proceeds according to U.S. Department of State regulations and program rules
  5. Occurs at an appropriate and vetted host company
  6. Is regularly monitored and appropriately supervised
  7. Has all contracts in place between you, your host organization, and the visa sponsor.

Sponsors also provide you with important guidance, problem solving, and orientation materials.

 

How long does it take to get the J-1 Visa?

The total time required to process your J-1 sponsorship application depends on how quickly you and your host company provide the visa sponsor with all necessary materials and information – as well as how busy the Visa Section is in your local US Embassy or Consulate.

Once you receive the necessary documents from the visa sponsor, you will need to apply for the J-1 Visa in-person at a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country. This process may take anywhere from one day (if you can apply in person) to four or more weeks, depending on the specific consulate or embassy where you apply.

We recommend you submit your application for J-1 sponsorship well in advance of the desired start date of your training to avoid possible delays.
Only a US consulate or embassy can grant your J-1 visa for your internship or trainee program. J-1 sponsors cannot guarantee that a US consulate or embassy will grant any particular applicant the J-1 Visa.

 

What is "SEVIS?"

SEVIS means: “Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.” This system tracks participants in the J-1 (as well as other) Visa categories during their stay in the U.S. As part of the sponsorship process, and to issue to you the DS-2019 Form, the visa sponsor registers you in SEVIS.

When you submit your J-1 Visa application including your DS2019 and DS7002 to a U.S. consulate or embassy, the visa officer will access the data that the visa sponsor entered into SEVIS for you.

 

What if I move or change my contact information in the US?

Whenever there is a change in your U.S. contact information or in your program or visa status you are required to immediately contact the visa sponsor to update your SEVIS record. Failure to do so could result in a significantly early end to you program. If your J-1 Visa Program is terminated, your SEVIS record will reflect this and may have a negative impact on future visa applications.

To maintain your visa status and positive SEVIS record, it is very important that you inform the visa sponsor in advance of any potential changes to your original program or to your or your host company’s U.S. contact information.

 

I am currently doing Optional Practical Training (OPT) on the F-1 Student Visa. Can I apply for the J-1 Trainee/Intern Visa?

Yes, but only if you otherwise comply with Department of State regulations and meet the eligibility and qualification requirements for becoming a Trainee or Intern.

 

What is the DS-7002 form or “T/IPP”?

T/IPP means “Training/Internship Placement Plan,” normally called a “Training Plan”. The T/IPP is the framework and summary of the activities you and your host company follow for the duration of your program. Host organizations cooperate with visa sponsors to complete and sign a Form DS–7002 to verify that your training activities are appropriate and consistent with the program objectives. All parties involved in internship and training programs must agree that participants are seeking appropriate level training activities. Programs are normally tailored according to the skills and experience levels of the individual participants.

The Form DS–7002 is required for your J-1 visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate.

T/IPPs must:

  • State the specific goals and objectives of the training and internship program (for each phase or component, if applicable);
  • Detail the knowledge, skills, or techniques to be imparted to the trainee or intern (for each phase or component, if applicable); and
  • Describe the methods of performance evaluation and the supervision for each phase or component of training, if applicable.

 

What are the application requirements and the DS-7002 form?

  1. Have secured a training or internship position with a host company in the USA.
  2. Have qualifications for Training or Internship regarding university-level education and previous work experience in a field directly related to the proposed program.
  3. Know English well enough to perform successfully in the proposed training/internship position.
  4. Plan to leave the U.S. within thirty (30) calendar days after the completion date of your training/internship.

 

What does my Host Organization need to do?

  1. Offer to you a qualified internship for up to twelve (12) months or training for up to eighteen (18) months in one of the following subject fields: Information, Media, Communications, Management, Business, Commerce, Finance, the Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics, Industrial Occupations, Public Administration or Law.
  2. Provide you with a structured training/internship program which is explicitly described in the DS-7002 Form or TIPP For that to happen, the proposed plan must match your qualifications and background. The assigned visa sponsor helps you and your host company with this process. (You are required to submit the TIPP DS-7002 to the US consulate or embassy with your DS-2019 form at the time of your in-person visa appointment.)
  3. Provide you with a structured training/internship program which is explicitly described in the DS-7002 Form or TIPP. For that to happen, the proposed plan must match your qualifications and background. The visa sponsor helps you and your host company with this process. (You are required to submit the TIPP DS-7002 to the US consulate or embassy with your DS-2019 form at the time of your in-person visa appointment.)

 

Do I really need to apply for the J-1 Visa in my home country?

Normally, yes. You can apply for the J-1 Visa only at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the U.S. If you have secured documents for the sponsorship for the J-1 Visa but are unable or unwilling to apply for your visa in your home country, you may be able to do so in another (third) country. For example, if you are already in the U.S., you might consider applying for the J-1 Visa at a U.S. consulate in Canada. However, the visa sponsor discourages visa applications in third countries since your chances of obtaining the J-1 Visa may be diminished there. Consular policy on such applications may change with little or no advance notification, so be sure to confirm the State Department’s policy in advance of applying this way. You should make every effort to apply in your home country for your visa.

 

How long does my training or internship last?

Training on the J-1 Visa Program may last up to 18 months. Internships may last up to12 months.

 

Can Interswop find a training/internship position for me in the U.S.?

Potentially yes. Check out our website www.interswop.de for our current list of available J-1 training and internship positions or individual paid and unpaid internship placements.

 

Can Interswop find a trainee/intern for my organization in the U.S.?

Interswop has been very successful in providing host companies with great international participants. Please contact us  about our individually tailored intern/trainee placement service or post your position(s) directly on our website.

 

Can I extend my training/internship?

If your original training program lasts less than 18 months and if your host organization supports your request for additional training, it may be possible to extend your program up to a maximum program duration of 18 months. Please contact your assigned visa sponsor well in advance of any extension request.

If your original internship program lasts less than 12 months and if your host organization supports your request for additional intern activities, it may be possible to extend your program up to a maximum program duration of 12 months. Please contact the assigned visa sponsor well in advance of any extension request. You must maintain a “good status” on your J-1 Visa and provide your visa sponsor all necessary documentation and application forms at least 30 days prior to the program end date indicated on the ‘TIPP’ and contracts. If your extension application is received late (less than 30 days prior to the program end date) and the visa sponsor decides to consider the late request, a US$200 nonrefundable late fee is required in addition to the regular US$550 extension fee. Please see the visa sponsor´s fee and refund policy for details. To request an extension of training/internship, please contact the visa sponsor, so they can send the necessary application materials to you and your host organization.

If your spouse and/or children are with you in the U.S. on the J-2 Visa, they may request an extension of their stay at the time you submit your application to the visa sponsor. If all extensions are approved, your dependents may remain with you for the period you are allowed to stay in the U.S.

Travel outside the U.S. is restricted during your program extension, unless you obtain a new J-1 Visa that is valid for the appropriate dates and duration of your extended program. You must contact the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to check whether your travel plans comply with current laws, and regulations.

Please note that the visa sponsor cannot guarantee that we can accept any particular program extension application. If the visa sponsor denies an application, the denial is final and the visa sponsor is not required to provide explanations.

We strongly suggest you and your prospective U.S. host organization make a realistic estimate of whether the proposed additional training activities in an extension are justified, and how much time will be necessary to complete all aspects of an extended program before you submit the extension proposal to the visa sponsor.

 

Can I apply for a second J-1 Trainee/Intern Visa?

Yes. Applicants who have previously participated in a traineeship may be eligible to participate in additional training and internship programs under the following conditions:

  1. Additional training and internship programs must address the development of new and/or more advanced skills or a qualifying different field of expertise.
  2. 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.
  3. Trainees may participate in additional training programs after a period of at least two years residency outside the U.S. following their previous training program.
  4. Participants who have successfully completed internship programs may participate in a subsequent program after a two-year residency outside the U.S.
  5. Former interns applying as a trainee, need to wait two years: “Participants who have successfully completed internship programs and no longer meet the selection criteria for an internship program may participate in a training program if they have resided outside the United States or its territories for at least two years.” (Different than Section 212 (e)) See eCFR 62.22 (n) (2).
  6. Former interns applying for additional internships more than 12 months after graduation need to have “…successfully completed a recognized course of study (i.e., associate, bachelors, masters, Ph.D., or their recognized equivalents) and have enrolled and be pursuing studies at the next higher level of academic study.” (same ref as above).

 

What is the refund if I do not get my J-1 Visa?

If you have appropriately applied for the program and not previously violated U.S. visa regulations and your J-1 Visa application is denied by the U.S. embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence, you may be eligible for a partial refund (of your payment of the total application fee) after the visa sponsor has received back from you the DS-2019 Form that we issued to you. Please see the visa sponsor´s fee and refund policy for more details.

 

What should I do if there are problems during my training/internship?

You should immediately contact the visa sponsor’s coordinators during normal business hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time. For very urgent situations and emergencies only, you should contact the visa sponsor’s 24-hour phone line. For life-threatening emergencies, call ‘911’ immediately. Your J-1 Visa sponsor acts as your advisor and liaison between you and your host organization. Please contact your visa sponsor with any concerns or problems you feel you may have. You are required to notify us immediately if you encounter any potentially significant problems during your program. Informing us right away dramatically increases our ability to help resolve successfully any of your problems and concerns.

 

Can I work and/or accept another job outside my training/internship?

No. The conditions of the J-1 intern/trainee visa strictly prohibited you from accepting any employment in the U.S not described in your raining/internship T/IPP, and/or performing any work in the U.S. If you engage in unauthorized employment and/or work, you will be in violation of program regulations, and subject to immediate program termination. There is a chance that you may face deportation and/or other penalties through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

 

How will I pay for my living expenses during my program?

Many host organizations provide their trainees/interns with a monthly stipend that helps them pay for rent and other living expenses.

Whether or not your training/internship is paid or unpaid, it is your responsibility to have sufficient funds to cover all living expenses for the duration of your program in the U.S., pay for round-trip air travel, and purchase adequate health insurance, both for yourself and any dependents who accompany you.

We recommend that you come to the U.S. with a minimum of 1,200 U.S. dollars (plus 600 U.S. dollars for each accompanying dependent) in order to be able to pay for living expenses during the first month of your stay It is likely that you will receive your first paycheck at least 4 weeks after the starting your program.

In addition, you must ensure that you have at least 900 U.S. dollars for yourself and 450 U.S. dollars per dependent per month to cover basic living expenses for the remainder of your and your dependents’ stay in the U.S.

Please note that your actual living expenses may be significantly higher, depending on your life style, the location of your training/internship, and other factors.

When you apply for your J-1 visa, you will be required to show to the U.S. consular officer proof that you have sufficient personal funds at least in the amount stated in item 5.g. on the DS-2019 Form that the visa sponsor issues you; e.g. we suggest that you bring a copy of your most recent bank statement, or copies of other financial documents “proving” your financial responsibility.

 

How long may I stay in the U.S. after I finish my program? What is the “Grace Period?”

After you have successfully completed your J-1 program, you are permitted to remain in the U.S. for thirty (30) days past the program end date indicated on your DS-2019 form. During this 30-day “Grace Period”, you are no longer considered “on the program”, and you are under the jurisdiction of the USCIS. You must no longer train or intern at an organization. The USCIS grants this period to allow you to settle your affairs, travel and visit other points of interest in the USA, and to prepare your return to your home country. You may not continue your program and you may not take paid or unpaid work during this grace period. Although you may travel inside the United States during the Grace Period, we recommend that you DO NOT travel internationally – outside the USA – and attempt to return to the USA during the Grace Period: Your visa expires on the date indicated on your DS2019 form. With an expired visa, you will not be permitted re-entry to the U.S.

If you plan to stay in the USA for the Grace Period, for your own safety and security, we also highly recommend that you purchase health insurance for the duration of the Grace Period either independently, or through the insurance partner.

 

How do I “stay in good status” with my J-1 visa

Follow all visa sponsor´s program rules and US Department of State regulations for the duration of your program. Please visit the visa sponsor´s  „Staying in Status“ for more information.