1. You must have English language skills sufficient to easily function on a day-to-day basis at your training environment.
  2. You must come with the intent to learn, grow, train, and engage in the activities agreed to; and then return home upon completion of program. The purpose is to gain new skills and not merely repeat what you have previously mastered.
  3. Your internship/training must be related to your education/degree/career.
  4. You must apply for the program from outside of the U.S.
  5. Your degree, education and/or experience that qualifies you for the program must have taken place outside of the U.S.


  •  Must have a post-secondary degree and at least one year of full-time equivalent experience in their career field OR
  • Have five full-time equivalent years of professional work experience in their career field.


  •  Are currently enrolled in a foreign, ministerially recognized, post-secondary academic educational institution OR
  •  Have graduated from such institutions within the past 12 months and begin their J-1 Program in the U.S. within those 12 months.

Conditions to Know About:

Length of Program: The maximum length of time for an Intern is 12 months and for a Trainee is 18 months.

Prohibitions: The J-1 Program prohibits unskilled labor, any direct clinical care/treatment of people or animals, and training that is more than 20% clerical.

Extensions: Program extensions up to the maximum time allowed by regulations are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Requirement: Certain exchange visitors are subject to a two-year home country residence requirement upon completion of their J-1 Program. This applies to Visitors who receive home government funding, U.S. government funding, or have an expertise that is considered an essential skill by their home country.

  • Exchange visitors subject to this rule must return home or to their country of last legal residence for an aggregate of two years upon completion of their program before applying for an immigrant visa, permanent residence, K visa, H visa, or L visa to the U.S.
  • This requirement does not prohibit a visitor from returning to the U.S. (sooner than two years) as a tourist or student, or under other visas not mentioned above.
  • This requirement doesn’t mean the exchange visitor has to stay in their home country for two years after the training, it simply limits the types of U.S. visas the exchange visitor can apply for until the two-year requirement is fulfilled.

Additional J-1 Programs: It is common to confuse the two-year gap requirement that applies to most Trainees and Interns.

  • Trainees are eligible for additional J-1 training/internship programs after a period of at least two years’ residency outside the U.S. following completion of their program.
  • Interns who no longer meet the criteria of an Intern also must reside outside of the U.S. for at least two years prior to participation in a J-1 training program.
  • The only exchange visitors who can return to the U.S. as a J-1 Intern/Trainee sooner than two years are Interns who still qualify as an Intern. They also must have completed another term of study, or advanced to a higher degree level, before returning to the U.S.
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