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Common Questions

— Interns | Trainees —

How do I find an internship or training program in the U.S.?

ICEF is informed of new internship/training opportunities throughout the year, so contact us to get started. If we don’t have any available positions in your academic or occupational field, you can search for opportunities the same as you would with any job search (e.g., browsing online job announcements, contacting companies directly, and networking with personal and professional contacts within the U.S.).

What is the Form DS-2019,
and why do I need it?

The Form DS-2019 is called the “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status.” You will not be able to apply for a J-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy unless you have been issued a DS-2019 by a visa sponsor, such as ICEF. The DS-2019 informs the U.S. Embassy that you have been accepted into the J-1 Intern/Trainee program, and that ICEF will serve as your visa sponsor for the duration of your program.

What is the Form DS-7002,
and why do I need it?

The Form DS-2019 is called the “Training/Internship Placement Plan” or “T/IPP.” The T/IPP is a legal document that outlines the specific career development opportunity the Host Organization will provide to you, and acts as the primary agreement between ICEF, the Host Organization, and the Intern/Trainee for the duration of the program.

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS stands for the “Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.” This system tracks all J-1 participants, as well as other visa holders, throughout their stay in the U.S. ICEF will create a record for you in SEVIS as part of the sponsorship application process. When you apply for your visa at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, the Consular Officer will access your record in SEVIS to confirm your data. Failure to follow the rules and regulations of the J-1 program may impact your SEVIS status which, in turn, may impact your ability to ever return to the United States in the future.

How much does J-1 visa sponsorship cost?

For a 12-month paid internship starting in 2024, ICEF’s Program Fee is $2,895 if you are applying to ICEF directly. If you are applying through one of our international partner agencies, you will need to contact them directly about their specific fees and refund policy. The Program Fee includes the cost of health insurance, which participants are required to have for the duration of their program in the U.S. Depending on your specific case, there may be other applicable fees.

ICEF arranges only paid internships, which typically offer at least $15.00 per hour. You will incur normal living expenses while you are in the U.S., just like you would at home. Living expenses vary widely by location, but each month you can expect to spend approximately $500–1,000 for housing, $80 for utilities, $300–400 for food, and $100 for commuting and local transport.

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

Except in extremely rare cases, ICEF only works with Host Organizations that provide Interns/Trainees a stipend (salary/wage) that helps cover the cost of housing accommodations and other living expenses during your program. Regardless of your stipend amount, you are responsible for having sufficient funds to cover all living expenses while you’re in the U.S., including air travel to return home at the end of your internship/training program. We recommend that you come to the U.S. with a minimum of $2,000 USD in order to be able to pay for living expenses during the first month of your stay. During your visa appointment, the Consular Officer may require proof that you have sufficient personal funds (e.g., recent bank statements or copies of other financial documents).

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

The total time required to process your application depends on how quickly you and the Host Organization provide ICEF with all necessary information and materials. Once you are approved for sponsorship, and ICEF issues your Form DS-2019, you still need to apply for your J-1 visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy/Consulate. This website shows approximate wait times for scheduling a visa appointment, which can range from just a few days to more than a month. The full process can take less than two months, but there are several opportunities for delay. We recommend you submit your application materials well in advance of your desired program start date in order to minimize delays. We offer rush service for DS-2019 processing if you are in a hurry to apply for your visa.

Can I change the dates of my program after I have applied?

Depending on the situation, it may be possible to adjust the start and end dates of your program. Notify ICEF as soon as you can, and we will work with you to adjust your program dates.

Can I work for my Host Organization after my program?

The Exchange Visitor Program is intended to be used for temporary cultural exchange. Interns and Trainees are expected to depart the U.S. at the end of the program. In-country change of status (to a different visa type, such as H-1B) is not condoned by the U.S. Department of State.

What is the 30-day “Grace Period?”

After the successful completion of your internship/training program, you are allowed to remain in the U.S. for up to thirty (30) days past the program end date shown on your Form DS-2019. You may use this Grace Period to travel and visit other parts of the U.S. before you return home. You are not allowed to continue interning or training at your Host Organization.

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