The DOS recently issued an interim final regulation which will add additional requirements and restrict the J-1 Trainee Program. The regulation also establishes a new J-1 Internship program. The regulation becomes effective on July 19, 2007.

The following highlights some of the changes which will be made to the J-1 program by the new regulation:

  1. The regulation creates a new internship program for foreign nationals who are currently enrolled in a post-secondary academic institution or recently graduated from such institution within the past twelve months. According to the DOS, the goal of the new internship program is to allow foreign nationals to develop practical skills that would enhance their future careers. A foreign national may participate in an internship program for a period of up to twelve months.
  2. In order to qualify for the J-1 Trainee program, the foreign national will be required to have a degree or professional certificate from a post-secondary academic institution and at least one year of prior work experience in the occupational field acquired outside the United States OR five years of work experi-ence outside the United States in their occupational field.
  3. Sponsors will be required to verify the English language skills of potential trainees and interns prior to accepting them into their program.
  4. Sponsors will be required to develop a Training/Internship Placement Plan on the new Form DS-7002.
  5. Sponsors who engage third parties to assist them in conducting the training and internship programs must enter into written agreements with the third parties. Sponsors may also be required to screen and vet host organizations where the training will be placed.
  6. When applying for the J-1 visa, the foreign national will be required to present the properly completed and signed new Form DS-7002 with the Form DS-2019 to the consular officer for review.
  7. The sponsor will be required to evaluate all trainees and interns and maintain documentation of the evaluations for a period of at least three years.

The new regulations will create a greater administrative burden on organizations which currently sponsor J-1 Train-ees. This regulation most likely will increase the cost for the J-1 Trainee program. Because the regulation becomes effective in less than one month, program sponsors will quickly have to modify their programs because any foreign national who applies for a J-1 Trainee visa on or after July 19, 2007 will have to evidence that the foreign national, the sponsor, any third parties, and any host organizations meet all of the new requirements. Additional information about how J-1 Trainee sponsors are implementing the new regulations will be contained in our firm’s future Immi-gration Updates.