The J-1 Visa allows foreign nationals to visit the United States temporarily as an Exchange Visitor. The program was developed to expose individuals from around the world to the culture and institutions of the U.S. and to foster better understanding of the U.S. perspective on a variety of issues (Fulbright-Hays Act). Designated organizations may sponsor foreign nationals on “Exchange Visitor Programs” with oversight by the U.S. Department of State. Each organization is bound by federal regulations which govern the J-1 Visa, and the terms of the specific designation approved by the U.S. Department of State. The U.S. Department of State designated BelCham as an Exchange Visitor Program sponsor in October 2002. This permits our organization to issue a “Certificate of Eligibility” (form DS-2019) to qualified Interns and Trainees, allowing them to apply for a J-1 visa to train in the United States in the fields of Management, Business, Commerce and Finance; Arts and Culture; or the Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics, and Industrial Occupations for a period of up to 12 months (Interns) or up to 18 months (Trainees).
BelCham is an authorized sponsor for both the Intern and Trainee J-1 Visa program. The Intern program is for current post-secondary students or who graduated within 12 months of the Internship start date. Trainees are professionals with at least 1 year of experience in their field (5 years required if you do not have a post-secondary degree or certificate).
Nope. BelCham offers the J-1 visa program to all nationalities.
- To obtain a J-1 visa your first step is to contact a sponsor such as BelCham.
- Your eligibility will be assessed by the J-1 Case Manager.
- The Applicant and the Host Company will have to gather documentation
- When all elements are completed the applicant will receive a DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility) that will allow you to apply for a visa at the U.S. Embassy in your home country.
The application process typically takes about three weeks, but this is dependent on how fast you are gathering the required documentation.
Yes. The U.S. Department of State has authorized BelCham to issue a “Certificate of Eligibility” (DS-2019) to qualified applicants in the following fields:
- Arts and Culture
- Management, Business, Commerce and Finance
- The Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics and Industrial Occupations.
The administrative fees for the program are as follows: Internship or traineeship up to 6 months: $950, Internship or traineeship up to 12 months: $1350, Traineeship up to 18 months: $1850 Extension or change of Host Company: $100 + difference in amount between the new and paid administrative fee Interns or Trainees must be at least Young Individual or Individual member and Host Companies must be at least Business member for the entire period of the internship or training.
Costs for the Intern/Trainee (Must be at least an individual member for the duration of the Exchange Visitor’s program):
Individual membership for members under 30: $50
Individual membership for members 30 and over: $250
SEVIS fee: $220 (requested by U.S State Department)
Embassy fee: About $160 (Price may vary depending on your local Consulate. Please check your local U.S. Consulate to confirm payment.)
Costs for the Host Company (Must be at least a Business Member for the duration of the Exchange Visitor’s program):
Business membership: $900
Administrative fee: (can be covered by Intern/Trainee or Host Company)
- Internship or traineeship up to 6 months: $950
- Internship or traineeship up to 12 months: $1350
- Traineeship up to 18 months: $1850
- Extension or change of Host Company: $150 + difference in amount between the new and paid administrative fee
Belcham will deliver to you the required documentation and the instructions on how to schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy in your home country.
The application process typically takes about three weeks. This is dependent on the applicant and the hos company submitting their application in a timely manner.
Please check the following section on the U.S. Embassy website, for information on applying for a J-1 Visa. There are two important costs involved.
All J-1 Visa applicants must pay a Visa application fee in the local currency ($160) also known as an MRV fee to the U.S. Embassy in your home country.
Additionally, the J-1 visa applicant will need to pay the a SEVIS fee ($220) online.
The I-901 SEVIS Fee is mandated by Congress to support the program office and the automated system that keeps track of students and exchange visitors and ensures that they maintain their status while in the United States. Each student or exchange visitor issued an initial Form DS-2019 is responsible for paying this fee to SEVP.
Please note: J-2 Dependents do not need to pay a SEVIS fee.
The Intern or Trainee needs to have sufficient funds to cover living expenses in the US during their training. $1500 per month is the minimum required amount and can either be covered by the Host Company (in form of a stipend), the Intern/Trainee or a combination of both.
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have an offer of training from a qualified host company in the U.S. in the field of Management, Business, Commerce, Finance, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics and Industrial Occupations
- Interns must be registered full-time at a university, college or superior school in a relevant field to the training or have graduated from such an institution within 12 months prior to their exchange visitor program start date. Interns may train in the U.S. for a maximum of twelve months.
- Trainees must have graduated from a post-secondary institution completed their studies with a university or superior school degree and have at least one year of full-time, professional work experience in a field relevant to the training. If trainees do not have a degree, they must have at least five years of full-time, professional work experience in a field relevant to the training. Trainees may train in the U.S. for a maximum of 18 months.
Host Companies must:
- Be a member of Belcham or a Belcham affiliate.
- Incorporated in the U.S. for a minimum of 2 years
- Be well-established and sufficiently structured (minimum 2 full-time employees that are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents)
- Site visits must be conducted if host companies have fewer than 25 employees and/or less than 3 million dollars annual revenue and have not previously participated successfully in the BelCham J-1 visa program.
- Offer cross-cultural activities such as company functions, outings to sporting or cultural events, etc.
- Provide information to the trainee/intern, before arrival, about the traineeship, the company’s geographical region including housing, transportation, living expenses, medical centers, schools, libraries, banks, recreation centers, emergency assistance, etc.
Spouses and children of J-1 interns/trainees may obtain are issued J-2 Visas. and they are interns and trainees listed on the “Certificate of Eligibility” (Form DS-2019) that the trainee will take to the U.S. Embassy in Brussels to obtain his/her J-1 Visa. The J-2 Visa will can be issued at the same time or after the J-1 visa has been obtained. If spouse and children are traveling separately, then a separated DS-2019 will be issued to them.
All dependents of a J-1 interns or trainee must also be covered by a health insurance policy meeting all minimum requirements established by the U.S. Department of State. Belcham will require proof of health insurance for the J-1 interns or trainees and all dependents. The visa status of J-2 dependents is determined by the visa status of the J-1 trainee. If the J-1 intern/trainee has completed training and leaves the U.S. then the J-2 visa is automatically cancelled.
Work Permit (Please note, BelCham can only advise on J-1/J-2 matters. Please consult an immigration attorney for assistance with a work permit application)
J-2 visa holders are eligible to apply for a work permit permission if the following requirements are met:
1. The J-1 visa holder must maintain his/her status in the U.S.
2. The money earned by the J-2 must not be used to support the J-1 visa holder.
Before your arrival you will receive a pre-arrival guide that will provide you with extensive information, including housing, transportation, living expenses, medical centers, schools, libraries, banks, recreation centers, emergency assistance, etc.
Most likely. Trainees and interns should present themselves at the nearest Social Security Office with their passport and Form DS-2019. In order to find a Social Security Office closest to you, please refer to the Social Security on-line Office Locator https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp.
If your Host Company requires you to obtain a Social Security number, you must wait 2 business days AFTER you have been validated in SEVIS to apply for a Social Security number at your local Social Security Office.
Please find the list of documents you will need to apply: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10096.pdf
Yes. Trainees can request it as long as at least two years have passed since you last held a J-1 visa, and as long as the field in which you wish to receive training is different from the field of training for the last visa. Interns may remain in the U.S. as a participant in a designated internship program for a maximum of 12 months. 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.
Please submit your resume, so that we may assess your eligibility.
J-1 visa holders are under a different tax regime than regular citizens or other visa holders. In some cases the host company will be deducting the amount required from the stipend. We recommend that you discuss this matter with the host company and consult an accountant if needed.
- Department of State Resource Page
- BridgeUSA (Department of State website for all J-1 programs)
- Your Protections in the USA – Wilberforce Pamphlet for Temporary Workers
- Exchange Visitor Welcome Brochure
- Department of State Intern Welcome Letter
- Department of State Trainee Welcome Letter
- Department of State Information for after your arrival
- IRS Website – J-1 Visa Holders
- Unpaid Internships under the FLSA