The Exchange Visitor (J Visa) Program
Training and Intern Programs
The American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Exchange Visitor (J visa) Program, designated by the U.S. Department of State, gives Scandinavians the unique opportunity to receive practical on-the-job experience in the U.S. and to grow professionally and personally through immersion in American business and community life.
Note: Although Exchange Visitor interns and trainees may receive income, this is not a work program and ASF cannot help anyone seeking a “work permit.” Rather, the emphasis is on learning and international exchange. The intern/trainee is considered an unofficial ambassador of his/her country. Following the program the Exchange Visitor is expected to return home.
Eligibility Requirements for Interns
an intern is:
- Currently enrolled in and pursuing studies at a degree- or certificate-granting post-secondary academic institution outside the United States, or
- A recent graduate from such a post-secondary institution who graduated no more than 12 months prior to the start date of his,her Exchange Visitor program
- Fluent in English at the level required for the position Motivated to succeed in their training and committed to contributing their talents and skills to the U.S. host trainer’s operations
The Exchange Visitor Program for an intern is a structured and guided work-based internship program in his/her specific academic field. Maximum duration for an internship is 12 months.
Eligibility Requirements for Trainees
The trainee must have:
- A degree or professional certificate from a foreign post-secondary academic institution and at least one year of prior related work experience in his/her occupational field acquired outside the United States, or
- Five years of work experience outside the United States in his/her occupational field
- Fluency in English at the level required for the position
- Motivation to succeed in their training and committed to contributing their talents and skills to the U.S. host trainer’s operations
The Exchange Visitor Program for the trainee must be a structured and guided work-based training program in his/her specific occupational field. Maximum duration for training is 18 months.
The Assignment in the U.S.
Interns and trainees must locate their own assignments with U.S. firms. The assignment needs to be related to the applicant’s educational and professional background. Most importantly, the position should help the intern or trainee to grow professionally, strengthening skills and providing an American perspective in the field of specialization.
The position should provide enough income to meet living expenses. If the position is unpaid, the intern or trainee must provide proof of sufficient funding from other sources to meet the expenses during the program. It is ASF’s policy not to sponsor programs which are unpaid and longer than 6 months.
If the position is unpaid the intern or trainee must provide proof of enough funding from other sources to meet the expenses during the program. Most importantly, the position should help the trainee or intern to grow professionally, strengthening skills and providing an American perspective in the field of specialization.
ASF is able to provide visa sponsorship in the following occupational fields:
- Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing
- Arts and Culture
- Construction and Building Trades
- Education, Social Sciences, Library Science, Counseling and Social Services
- Hospitality and Tourism
- Information Media and Communications
- Management, Business, Commerce and Finance
- Public Administration and Law
- The Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics, and Industrial Occupations
If you need help locating a training assignment, please see Tips on Developing a Position in the U.S.
The intern or trainee is responsible for any ASF costs, visa application and SEVIS fees charged by the U.S. Government, the costs of round-trip air travel and medical insurance. The intern/trainee may accept an unpaid assignment (ONLY for a six months or less duration) if they can document that they are receiving funding from other sources.
ASF Application Fee: This is a non-refundable administrative fee of $100.00 which ensures the intern/trainee’s acceptance into the program.
ASF Program Fee: This is an administrative fee to help ASF meet program expenses. This fee is based on program length; please follow the fee schedule below to identify the fee for your program. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on this support to continue our work in international exchange. The intern/trainee will be responsible for the payment of this fee however you may ask your host firm to reimburse you. Final payments of this fee must be received before the sponsoring documents are issued. Early departures will not be refunded.
|0-3 Months||3-6 Months||6-12 Months||12-18 Months|
- For re-issuance of lost/stolen/damaged Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (J-Nonimmigrant) – Form DS-2019: $100
- Reassignments: $600
- Site Visits: $100 in New York City; $200 Outside of New York City
- Extensions: $600 flat fee
- J-2 Visa Status Dependents/Spouses: $300 per person
All fees are non-refundable.
The Application Process
All J-1 visa sponsorship applications are handled directly by the American-Scandinavian Foundation through its online application system. After the intern or trainee locates an assignment in the U.S., he or she must begin an online advising application.
Advising Application and Interview
As part of the application process, each applicant must complete an advising application and undergo an interview with a member of the ASF’s Internship and Training Programs Department. Interviews may take place in-person or by webcam via Skype.
J-1 Visa Sponsorship Application
After the applicant provides the ASF with the name and contact information of the U.S. firm that has agreed to act as his/her host firm, and after the ASF has verified the applicant’s eligibility (determined in the advising phase), ASF will write to the firm to introduce itself and its exchange visitor program. ASF will also request a Training/Internship Placement Plan (Form DS-7002) from the firm on the applicant’s behalf. At the same time, the intern/trainee will be required to complete a more comprehensive online application.
Issuance of Supporting Documents
Once the application has been accepted by the ASF and the firm has submitted all of its required documents, ASF will issue the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (J-Nonimmigrant) – Form DS-2019. This document will allow the intern or trainee to complete the final steps of the J-1 visa application process and book an interview at the U.S. Embassy in his or her home country. When the J-1 Visa is issued and affixed into the passport, the applicant is ready to enter the U.S. and begin his or her Exchange Visitor Program as an intern or a trainee. For further information on the Exchange Visitor Program, visit the U.S. Department of State’s web site: http://j1visa.state.gov
The application process typically takes eight weeks. Please apply as far in advance of your proposed program start date as possible.
Information From The U.S. Host Firm
The host organization / trainer will need to provide to the ASF the following information:
1. Employer Identification Number (EIN) used for tax purposes
2. Verification of Workman’s Compensation Insurance Policy, equivalent coverage, or, if applicable, evidence of state exemption from the requirement of coverage.
Click here for a list of host firms ASF worked with recently.
Training/Internship Placement Plan
The host organization (trainer) completes a Training/Internship Placement Plan (Form DS-7002). Host organizations sign the completed Form DS-7002 to verify that that placement is appropriate and consistent with the objectives of the trainee or intern and as set forth in the Training/Internship Placement Plan.
The internship or training must be tailored to the skills and experience level of the individual intern/trainee. ASF and the intern or trainee must also sign the Form DS-70002 before the visa documents can be issued.
For some firms new to the program, ASF is required to conduct a site visit to ensure that the host trainer organization site is appropriate and conducive to a rewarding internship/training experience.
This requirement applies to firm which have not participated in the ASF’s program before and have fewer than 25 employees and annual revenues of less that $3 million. The site visit is waived for academic institutions or government entities.
As long as the student continues to be enrolled full-time in a post-secondary academic institution, the student may return to the U.S. for another internship but it must be related to the studies and it must be at a more advanced level.
A trainee may return to the U.S. for a second assignment after two years of residence outside the U.S. The second assignment must be at a more advanced level.
The Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI)
The Norway-America Association (NORAM)