Why Host an International Intern/Trainee?
Many employers are not aware of the added value foreign interns can bring their business. By hosting an international intern, not only will you provide them opportunities to gain valuable skills and knowledge, your business will also benefit from their unique international perspective and skills.
Benefits to Your Business
Cultural Diversity: Providing an internship opportunity to a foreign student or recent graduate allows you to create a multicultural and dynamic business environment that promotes cross-cultural ideas and understanding. International graduates tend tend to be highly motivated to succeed and contribute to your business, given the complexity of making the jump to living overseas.
International Insight: Even if your company does not do business with other countries, hosting an international intern is guaranteed to provide you with new ways of thinking and insights that your business may otherwise not have access to. Their unique educational and professional backgrounds provide them with fresh perspectives on a range of tasks and projects.
Availability: Unlike American interns who may only be available for a few hours a week due to school schedules and other time commitments, international interns come to the US specifically for the internship experience and can train from 32 to 40 hours per week for up to 12 or 18 months. This provides your business with greater flexibility on tasks and projects and allows the intern to be utilized more effectively. In addition, your company does not have to go through the hassle of training a new intern every few months.
Understanding the J1 Visa Program
The purpose of the J1 Visa Program is to provide international participants with opportunities for professional development, insight into American know-how, and a greater understanding of American society and culture. J1 interns and trainees are expected to share the cross-cultural and professional knowledge they have gained in the U.S. upon return to their home country at the end of the program. The J1 program is also intended to allow American businesses and individuals to learn about the culture and expertise of the participant’s home country.
Using the J1 Visa Program to fill the position of a regular staff member and/or to immigrate into the U.S. is strictly prohibited.
Understanding J1 Visa Sponsorship
Any foreign national whom you would like to invite to your U.S. company for an internship or training must first be accepted by an officially designated organization/sponsor. This helps ensure that the candidate and proposed training satisfy all visa and regulatory requirements. The U.S. Department of State designates and authorizes sponsors to issue prospective interns or trainees the Certificate of Eligibility (DS-2019 form) that is required for interns and trainees to apply for the J1 visa.
To be eligible to host a sponsored J1 Intern or Trainee, your company needs to:
- Have found an international candidate who you would like to offer training or agree to host
- Provide the intern or trainee with a structured training program that must both be suitable to his or her qualifications and background, and be approved by a sponsor (as required by J1 Program regulations). The sponsor will assist you in developing an adequate training plan (DS-7002).
- Ensure that the intern or trainee is engaged in training and does not perform ordinary work that a part-time or full-time staff member of the company would otherwise be responsible for. J1 participants may not make final decisions about, or carry the full responsibility for, major tasks, assignments or projects. However, they may provide assistance in these matters since on-the-job training is encouraged as an important learning tool.
- Offer training activities up to 18 months in one of the subject fields designated by the U.S. Department of State.
Your prospective J1 Intern or Trainee needs to:
- Be currently enrolled or within 12 months of graduating from a foreign degree-granting post secondary institution in a relevant course of studies (interns), or have a degree and at least 1 year of work experience in a field directly related to the proposed training (trainees).
- Know English well enough to perform successfully in the proposed training activities.
- Plan to leave the U.S. within 30 days after completion of the program.
- Possess a great attitude, eagerness to learn and participate in program activities.
About the author:
James Cumiskey is Business Development Manager for KEMP Technologies based in their New York headquarters. Coming from Ireland, he has been through the J1 process before and found his employment through networking and interviewing on the ground here in the city. Find him on Twitter or LinkedIn.