The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has informed the sponsors of J-1 intern and trainee programs that it will perform site visits to many J-1 Intern and Trainee host organizations in 2015. Some employers have reported that such visits have occurred as early as February. Program participants and host organizations have received emails from the J-1 sponsors regarding these visits. The State Department performed similar visits last spring, which involved gathering information and observing the exchange programs. Generally speaking, last year these visits were reported to have successfully demonstrated the value of these cultural exchange programs.
Host companies will not receive advanced notices of the visits. Trainee participants should be aware of possible site visits by DOS officials and be prepared to share the culture exchange opportunities, training program details, and their intention to use and share their experiences upon returning to their home country, as outlined on their DS-7002 forms. If program participants or participating organizations are contacted by the DOS they should inform the program’s sponsor and their legal representative so they can work to cooperate in a timely fashion with the DOS.
Exchange visitors are encouraged to do the following:
- Notify the Host Company or Organization: Exchange visitors should notify their supervisors and host organization contacts if representatives from the DOS visit a training site.
- Review the Exchange Visitor Training Plan (DS-7002): The exchange visitor and his or her supervisors should review the program DS-7002 form(s) and be prepared to discuss the training details and cultural opportunities explained therein to DOS officials.
- Be Prepared to Discuss Cultural Activities and Engagement with Americans: The DOS will likely ask participants about their cultural experiences and interactions with locals as part of their assessment of the program.
Note that exchange visitors have the following responsibilities related to the Exchange Visitor Program:
- Program evaluations are required at the conclusion of J-1 programs. Mid-point evaluations are also required. Both participants and program supervisors must complete and submit evaluations to the sponsoring organization.
- If the exchange visitor will travel internationally during the program, the program sponsor must endorse the exchange visitor’s original DS-2019 form prior to the departure. Exchange visitors must have travel validation and a valid J-1 visa stamp on their passports to re-enter the United States.
- If an exchange visitor’s housing accommodations change during the program, the exchange visitor should notify the program immediately and provide it with information regarding the new residential address.
- If the exchange visitor’s email address or U.S. phone number changes, he or she must notify the program sponsor within 10 days and provide it with new contact information.
- If there are any changes to the program, the exchange visitor must notify the program sponsor immediately. Notification is required for changes to training site locations, program dates, program supervisor(s), training or internship program content, as described in the DS-7002 form.
- In the event of any problem or emergency, the exchange visitor should contact the program sponsor or legal representative immediately.
Participants should maintain communication with their program sponsors to ensure that their program fulfills their expectations and the objectives outlined in the DS-7002 program description. Hosting organizations should see the Department of State website for descriptions of the various programs and their requirements.