December 17, 2009

Non-immigrant Visa Application Fees May Increase

The Department of State recently published a proposed rule that would increase Non-immigrant visa application fees from $131 to $140. The proposed increase is due to the fact that the current fee does not cover the costs of visa processing and security enhancements. If this rule goes into effect, all J-1 applicants would have to pay the new fee.

For more information, visit the Department of State's website.

December 14, 2009

Finding J-1 Internships

If you are eligible for a J-1 intern program and residing outside the United States, a good way to look for internships is online at internship search sites, like Here you can find listings of hundreds of internships in your professional field. Good luck!

December 11, 2009

Low-Paid J-1 Internships

Due to current economic conditions, companies are turning more and more to unpaid or low paid internships which, “still offer the same advantages: a chance for a worker to gain knowledge and at little or no cost to the employer,”writes Hillary Chura at the New York Times website. Companies that are looking for lower cost options to add capacity on specific projects and develop talent are finding that internships are a great option.

This is good news for potential trainees and interns who may have had some trouble finding opportunities in the past. The new year could bring many more internships in a variety of fields. The fact that intern positions may offer little to no stipend should not be an issue as long as the J-1 candidate has adequate funding throughout the program, whether it be personal or from an outside source like an organization or university.

When evaluating a participant's ability to cover living costs, Global Current considers all personal and outside support, including any benefits that the company will be providing like housing or transportation. Our general rule of thumb is that a participant should have access to at least $2000 USD monthly. This may vary depending on the cost of living of the site of activity.

December 01, 2009

Use the New and Improved DS-7002

As of today, Global Current requires that all J-1 sponsorship applications are submitted with the new DS-7002. The new form along with instructions and a sample DS-7002 are included in our most current application packet.

Please note that consulates/embassies are now expecting the new DS-7002 at all J-1 Intern and Trainee interviews.

Update your files and avoid any problems at the consulate!

November 17, 2009

Holiday Travel for J-1 Participants

Woohoo! Looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner... turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes?Before you lose yourself in the holiday excitement, make sure that your J-1 trainee/intern is prepared for any holiday travel that he/she will be doing.

During the J-1 program, participants are allowed to travel within the U.S. without requesting permission from the program sponsor. To travel internationally, J-1 participants need the following:
  • The program end dates on the DS-2019 and J-1 visa cannot occur before or durring the travel outside the U.S.

  • The J-1 participant must have a multiple entry visa (the letter "M" will be indicated under the word "Entries" on the J-1 visa.

  • The DS-2019 must be signed by the program sponsor in the Travel Validation Section.

To grant travel validation, Global Current needs the original DS-2019, a statement of where, when and why the participant is traveling, the travel validation fee and a prepaid waybill or stamped self-addressed envelope so that we can send the approved document back. We recommend that all travel validation requests be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to travel date. If an emergency arises and we are not able to sign the DS-2019 before she leaves the U.S. then the DS-2019 can be sent directly to us for the signature and we will send it to an address abroad so that she can enter on the validated form.

The travel validation will expire after one year and will need to be renewed after that for international travel.

Now that everything is taken care of, I give you permission to enjoy the holidays :) Happy Thanksgiving!

November 12, 2009

J-1 Program Evaluations

J-1 sponsors are required to collect program evaluations from you and your J-1 candidate. Most of the time the supervisor and the trainee/intern have highly functional and effective relationships that earn high scores on program evaluations. On the rare occasion that we receive an evaluation reporting dissatisfaction, we act immediately.

As a J-1 sponsor, our main objective is to resolve the issue as quickly and effectively as possible, allowing the program to continue through to its completion. Often dissatisfaction will stem from communication issues, where one party (supervisor or participant) has specific expectations that are not being met and he/she is unsure how to communicate his/her concerns and resolve the problem. Cultural communication differences will exacerbate this problem. Our first action is to suggest him/her to meet with the supervisor/participant to discuss and reconcile expectations and improve the working situation. We do not typically get involved until all options are exhausted and it is clear that a change must be made.

We will get involved immediately only if there it is an emergency situation. Yikes!

If a company is not following through with the plan described in the DS-7002, then we will often work with the host company to help them get back on track. However, if the company is unresponsive to our efforts, then we typically allow participants to apply for a host company transfer. For a transfer, he or she will locate another host company that is able to adhere to his/her program plan and start the program where it was left off. In the case that the participant is not holding up his/her end of the agreement and is unresponsive to our efforts to rectify the problem, then we are forced to end the program.

Your sponsor is there to support you throughout the J-1 program. Though most issues can be resolved internally, we are always available for support when all other options have been exhausted.

November 09, 2009

Global Current Newsletter!

Check out Global Current's November Newsletter and learn how to evaluate a company's eligibility to host a J-1 program.

October 27, 2009

Do J-1 Participants Pay Taxes?

"Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." - Benjamin Franklin

Ben Franklin was a wise man.

Yes, J-1 intern and trainee participants do pay taxes while in the U.S. They will pay some but not all taxes that U.S. citizens/residents pay, including city state and federal taxes. J-1 participants are not required to pay FICA (Social Security and Medicare Tax) or FUTA (Federal Unemployment Tax).

In the Global Current Welcome Packet, we include instructions on how to complete the W-4. The instructions we provide are intended to prevent him/her from owing any taxes at the end of the year.

Remind J-1 participants that they will need to file a Federal Tax Return and possibly a State Tax Return in order to receive any money that was withheld from the stipend that is due back to him/her. This is often the last thing on a participant's mind if they finish the program before tax season or if they are participating in a program that spans over two calendar years. Please let them know that filing a return is mandatory for each year that they participate in a J-1 program.

To make filing easier for our participants, Global Current provides information for a filing service called

October 16, 2009

Tick-tock - J1 Interview Wait Times

Congratulations! Your J-1 sponsorship application was approved and you now have the DS-2019 in hand. The next step is to make a J-1 interview appointment at your local U.S. consulate/embassy. Some consulates have especially high traffic and long wait times so we suggest that you call your local U.S. embassy/consulate or visit the Department of State website for more information on wait times.

If you are operating on a tight timeline, you may want to check consular wait times prior to receiving the DS-2019. That way you can make an appointment in advance or schedule an appointment at another nearby consulate/embassy. If you decide to schedule the appointment before the DS-2019 is issued, we recommend that you plan for at least three weeks from the day your application is submitted to the day you receive the DS-2019, assuming that you are taking advantage of Global Current’s 48 hour turnaround time.

Some embassies/consulates require a SEVIS ID to schedule an appointment. If this is the case, you must wait until the DS-2019 is issued before you can schedule an appointment. Your SEVIS ID number is issued with your DS-2019. Global Current is can email you your SEVIS ID number as soon as we issue the DS-2019 form.

September 29, 2009

The Place of Exchange in Public Diplomacy

Exchange holds an important place in our hearts, and we are very excited to see it take a central role in U.S. public diplomacy. As a J-1 sponsor we have been able to witness the tremendous impact of J-1 exchange programs on the lives of thousands of people and we are confident that these programs will not dissappoint as a tool to promote international understanding and cooperation.

At the launch of the Public Diplomacy Collaborative at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Judith McHale, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, spoke about the new strategies being implemented by the current administration to make U.S. diplomatic efforts more effective. President Obama and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, are engaging other countries in a different way, encouraging an open dialogue and directly addressing damaging myths about the United States that have taken root abroad. Judith McHale, then goes on to champion exchange as an important component of the Obama Administration's diplomatic efforts. She recognizes the profound effect that exchange programs can have on the lives of individuals and how an individual's viewpoint can ripple out and affect thousands of others.

Global Current is proud to be a part of the movement to promote exchange and we encourage all J-1 participants and host companies to recognize their integral role in making exchange programs happen and how these exchange programs fit into a larger effort to facilitate international understanding and cooperation.

Yay Exchange!!

September 16, 2009

New DS-7002!!

A new DS-7002 has been released on the Department of State's website!

Keep your shirt on. The new DS-7002 is pretty similar to the old one. The new form has improvements in format and small improvements in content. Requests for program information that were irrelevant or misleading have been replaced with more clear and pertinent information requests.

Before having any substantial experience with the form, it seems that the only field that could cause confusion for our customers contains the choices for the J-1 program type. The choices are trainee, intern and student intern. For Global Current J-1 intern and trainee programs, only the intern and trainee boxes should be marked. The student intern is for students doing internships at a university in the U.S. This should not be confused with interns that are currently enrolled in a university outside the U.S. completing an internship in the United States at a host company/organization.

We are still working on incorporating the new form into our application. We will provide updates as the new updated application is released, however we do encourage all of our customers to begin using the new DS-7002 immediately.

August 26, 2009

What is SEVIS and why do I pay for it?

Acronyms can be both time-saving and incredibly frustrating to all of us. So to prevent you from hitting your head against a wall the next time you see the acronym SEVIS, I thought I would offer a brief explanation.

SEVIS, The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, is an Internet-based system that allows J-1 sponsors to transmit information regarding our participants to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DoS). Each one of the J-1 participants under our sponsorship has been entered into SEVIS, which allows us to generate the DS-2019. SEVIS also helps us to track and monitor our participants by containing status information on our participants like if he/she has received the J-1 visa, and entry/exit data. The J-1 sponsor will also update the system with information like changes of address and program extensions or cancelations.

The SEVIS I-901 Fee was implemented to support SEVIS maintenance as well as the staff required to operate it. The SEVIS Fee Receipt is required for the J-1 interview to verify that you have paid. Unlike other sponsors, Global Current pays the fee ($180 for intern and trainee programs) on the participant's behalf, and sends the receipt to the participant. This way we hope to decrease the amount of paperwork that he/she has to do before the consular appointment. The SEVIS fee is included in our sponsorship fee.

For more information on SEVIS, visit the Department of State website.

August 18, 2009

J-1 English Requirement

We know that it can be tricky to objectively measure English language proficiency. It is possible that your J-1 candidate has been watching Hollywood movies in English all her life and speaks clearly with a spot-on American accent; yet has never taken an official English course. How do you prove that your candidate is proficient in English and able to function daily in his or her J-1 program?

We once accepted English language tests and limited them to the most well-known and trusted (TOEFL and TOEIC etc.), but we found that we were still constantly trying to keep up with new testing formats and scoring. Frankly, it was an administrative burden and did not clearly answer the question, does this candidate have the English language ability to complete the J-1 program successfully?

So, we did away with the English tests and instead encourage J-1 candidates to produce letters from English professors that prove their English proficiency from a professional's perspective. We also accept English language evaluations from host companies that have had first-hand contact with their J-1 candidates through phone and email. The host company knows what skill level is needed to complete their program successfully and is thus a great judge.

And if your candidate happens to be from somewhere like Australia, the UK, or South Africa and is a native speaker, then congratulations, you can forget about proving English language proficiency ;)

August 11, 2009

Know When 212 (e) Has Been Applied

When Eduardo came to the United States from Peru, you expected him to complete an 18 month management training program at your company and then return to your Peru branch for a management position. Now Eduardo is nearing the end of his program and the position in Peru has been filled. Also, he is currently being trained on a project that has been extended due to incredible success. Eduardo is very talented and you would prefer to keep him on in the U.S. You now need to know if he is subject to rule 212 (e) which would require him to return home.

You can see whether or not your J-1 participant is subject to rule 212(e) on the DS-2019. At the bottom of the front page of the DS-2019, the consulate will have marked box number 2 next to "Subject to the two-year residence requirement based on:" if the participant is subject to the rule. This information will also be stamped on his/her J-1 visa.

If you found that the participant is subject to the rule and have come to the conclusion with your immigration counsel that the rule was applied erroneously, we cannot provide much assistance to you. As a J-1 sponsor, we expect that your J-1 participant will leave the United States following the completion of the program and in doing so, fulfill the purpose of the J-1 visa(cultural and educational exchange). The best we can do is provide a letter confirming that your participant has completed the program or is currently active.

Click here for more information on the two-year residence requirement, rule 212(e), and see my blog post on repeating the J-1 program for specific information regarding the J-1 trainee and intern programs.

August 07, 2009

What Makes A Good J-1 Program?

At times it can be pretty obvious when something should be a J-1 Intern or Trainee program, and at other times it is completely ambiguous.

An internship program is usually easier to spot. For example, when you have a program that would qualify as an internship (no matter who is selected) and you happen to fill the role with a foreign national, then you would likely opt to pursue the J-1 visa. Just like a typical internship, it should have specific skill development objectives as well as a structured plan to meet those objectives through on-the-job training. The program usually falls in the summer when the candidate has a break from university.

A J-1 trainee program can be somewhat harder to pinpoint. Some of the strongest training programs are the rotational programs run by many multinationals. The candidates are still in the early stages of their career with the company and have a very specific training plan that was created to give them a well-rounded skill set and understanding of the company while preparing them for a permanent position outside the U.S. Another example of a strong J-1 trainee program, is when a domestic company is planning a global expansion and would like to train a national of that country to lead the expansion abroad. The individual is brought to the U.S. for about 18 months of management training and then sent back abroad with all the tools to start up another branch.

There are more examples, but in all strong trainee programs the common theme is that there is no question that the program is temporary and that it has very specific objectives and on-the-job-training that aims to develop an individual's skill set. When I can read the training plan and see both of these things, I am usually relieved because it is an A+ application and a perfect fit for the program.

A red flag for a program that is not appropriate for the J-1 is when a company is very small and has no apparent reason to train a foreign national i.e. has no global partners, branches outside the U.S., or global initiatives. We will question if the company has enough employees to offer training (is there a manager that has the capacity to effectively train someone?) which will lead us to wonder if this is actually productive employment rather than J-1 training.

These are just a few examples but there are many other types of programs that fall in the grey area and may be perfectly good J-1 trainee or intern programs. The best way to review a program is to pass it along to a J-1 sponsor that will be able to provide specific feedback.

July 29, 2009

Uh-oh, You Have To End Your J-1 Program... What Next?

So your company was the victim a Ponzi scheme or the supervisor of your J-1 program was laid-off and you have a J-1 participant that you would like to continue training but now cannot. Despite your best efforts to prevent these types of situations, we understand that they still happen.

When host companies find themselves in a position where they cannot provide the training that was outlined in the DS-7002, it is not difficult to end the training at that particular location. All we require are completed final evaluations and notification of the cause of program termination. Taking such action will not reflect poorly on the company, however we will more carefully consider sponsoring a program at that location again in the future.

If the host company cannot continue to provide training through no fault of the participant then we will allow the participant a 30-day grace period to find a similar company in the same industry that can offer an almost identical training program. Once the J-1 participant finds a company, then we can transfer the program to this new site of activity, or new host company, where he/she will complete the training. Participants are not permitted to shop around for training/internship opportunities and may not extend a host company transfer.

If a trainee or intern has caused the host company's dissatisfaction with the program by not performing, not showing up for work or demonsrating that he or she is a poor fit for the J-1 program, then we do not permit the 30-day grace period. We will end the J-1 program immediately and ask him or her to return home as soon as possible.

July 22, 2009

Repeating the J-1 Trainee or Intern Program

You loved your J-1 program and your host company loved you. It was, as they say, "a match made in heaven." After the program you returned to your home in a quaint little town in southern Germany. One day not long after your return your, host company calls you from the U.S. to offer you a second more advanced program after which they will hire you in their satellite office in Munich. You are ecstatic and flattered. You jump and scream and immediately begin to walk out the front door to celebrate at the local biergarten when you realize that you may not qualify for a second J-1 program.

The rules for repeating the J-1 intern and trainee programs are specific to program, so it is important to know which program you participated in originally. As an intern you are permitted to participate in another intern program after you have returned to your home country and completed at least a semester at your university. If you are an intern that has graduated from a university and has completed a short internship ending within 12 months of your graduation date, then you may qualify to participate in consecutive intern programs. This situation is rare and evaluated on a case by case bases. There needs to be ample justification for participating in back to back internships in order for us to agree to sponsor such a program. As a trainee, you are allowed to repeat the J-1 trainee program after 2 years of residing outside the U.S.

If you were originally an intern and would now qualify as a trainee or vice versa, the general practice among sponsors is to require that you first live outside the U.S. for at least 2 years.

Also, If you plan on repeating either the J-1 trainee or intern program, your second J-1 program must be different and more advanced than your first and you must always meet the eligibility requirements of the program your are applying to.

It is common to confuse the J-1 regulations regarding repetition of the J-1 trainee or intern program with the two-year home-country foreign residence requirement, INA 212(e) requirement. The difference is that only some individuals are subject to 212 (e), while all are subject to the regulations regarding J-1 program repetition. The individuals subject to 212(e) will have this information marked in their passport and on their DS-2019. If the rule applies, it means that he/she is required to reside in his/her home country or last legal permanent residence for two years before being able to receive an H, L or K visa or apply for permanent residency in the U.S. The two-year home residency rule does not reference the J-1 visa and thus allows those subject to it to repeat the J-1 program as long as they are eligible.

July 14, 2009

The DS-7002 & Hollywood Action Flicks

A well-done DS-7002 is like a Hollywood blockbuster. Just like a hit film, a stellar DS-7002 is not too long, loosing the interest of the audience, and not too short, leaving the audience with hundreds of unanswered questions and a vague notion of the program plan, or plot.

The film analogy is a bit of a stretch, but the point is that the second page of the DS-7002 should provide the reader with a good summary of the J-1 program plan. In 2008 we were informed that U.S. consulates were unhappy with the lengthiness of many DS-7002s and it was recommended that we ask our customers to shorten the form. As a result, we request that the DS-7002 contain only a summary of a longer and more detailed written program plan.

The DS-7002 is one of the most important components of the J-1 sponsorship application and it tends to be the biggest hurtle when working towards program approval. Even still, there have been quite a few DS-7002s that have waltzed through our doors and earned the signature of approval without any trouble. These particular forms are completed in entirety and do not include the phrase, "See Attached." Also, even though the heading and format of the second page suggest otherwise, we prefer that the form summarize all phases of the program on one second page rather than providing a page for each phase. The great DS-7002s read like narratives, allowing the sponsor to create a picture in their head of exactly what this J-1 candidate will be doing. Lastly, we understand that every activity does not fit in the tiny box labeled Chronology or Syllabus of Training, and so we accept a list of the topics covered by each phase or the title of each phase. We will more thoroughly evaluate the training method in the written program plan.

Again, each sponsor's requirements for the DS-7002 are slightly different but we do provide an excellent sample of what we like to receive in our application. Always use samples for guidance.
Please note that the DS-7002 is being reviewed, and the Department of State may issue a new form shortly and thus initiate a change in DS-7002 requirements. We will be sure to keep you updated.

July 08, 2009

6 Things HR Managers Should Know About J-1 Intern and Trainee Programs

I admittedly have a bias towards this particular visa but I truly think that J-1 Intern and Trainee Programs are great options for many companies seeking to attract top talent from around the globe or provide professional development for an international workforce.

Before implementing a J-1 program there are 6 things you should consider.

  1. High Productivity - J-1 trainee and intern participants are more productive than American-born workers according to a recent study released in an article in the Wall Street Journal. Your program plan should be structured and challenging so that highly-qualified participants will excel in their traineeship or internship.

  2. Flexible Visa Process - A J-1 visa can be issued at any time during the year for the start date of your choosing.

  3. Fast - The J-1 Visa does not require that you engage in a lengthy petitioning process prior to the visa application and the whole process from applying for sponsorship to receiving the J-1 can take as little as a month. Communicate with your sponsor to be clear on what is expected and expedite the sponsorship approval process.

  4. Cultural Exchange - The purpose of the J-1 visa is to facilitate cultural and educational exchange. As a result, participants are expected to return abroad at the completion of the program. The maximum duration for a J-1 intern program is 12 months and 18 months for a J-1 trainee program. Make sure that your program plans fit into these time frames.

  5. Participant Criteria - Interns must be currently enrolled in or recent graduates of a foreign university. Trainees must have a degree from a foreign university and at least one year of related experience from outside the U.S. or 5 years of related experience from outside the U.S. Before starting a program you should be familiar with the qualifications of your candidates and the criteria they must meet for J-1 Intern and Trainee programs.

  6. Two-year home residency rule - Some J-1 participants are subject to the two-year home residency rule and are required to return to their home country upon completion of a J-1 program for a minimum of two years before they are able to return to the U.S. on an H, L or K visa or to apply for permanent resident status. Check and see if your candidates may be subject to this rule. Please click here for more information.

June 30, 2009

Does My Field of Study Relate to My J-1 Internship?

Yes, we know that this is a difficult question for all you English and History majors out there.

In order to qualify for the J-1 Intern Program, applicants must be studying a subject that relates to his or her internship. The J-1 regulations are quite clear on this, yet common practice in the U.S. is for companies is to hire individuals with specific skill sets necessary to excel in a position. For U.S. students or recent graduates the field of study can sometimes take a secondary role to professional experience and extracurricular activities and the field of study may only indirectly relate to the position.

So it is not surprising that some potential J-1 interns run into problems proving that their field of study relates to their proposed J-1 program. History majors preparing to go to law school will find that J-1 sponsors are resistant to sponsor their programs due to the fact that their major has no law component.

Recently we had to turn away an applicant that was applying for an internship at a large consulting firm. The applicant was studying physics and the proposed internship program would consist primarily of financial and operational analysis for a pharmaceuticals company. The applicant's physics background related to neither the business nor the chemistry components and we were forced to turn the program down.

In this case, the internship program plan should demonstrate that even though it is primarily a finance and operations internship, it has an essential physics component. For example, a program requires the observation and analysis of a laser used in a factory to determine if it is cost effective. In order to effectively complete this program it would be necessary that the J-1 participant have a physics background.

Your first step should always be to discuss your case with J-1 sponsors. Each sponsor interprets J-1 regulations slightly differently, so you should pick one that you are comfortable with and then explain your situation. We are happy to share with you exactly what you will need to do to make your internship program compliant with J-1 regulations.

June 25, 2009

Global Current's Blog Debut

Welcome to Global Current's brand new blog!

Global Current is a provider of J-1 visa sponsorship for the trainee and intern programs. We created this blog to keep you informed about the industry of professional and cultural exchange from a variety of perspectives.

The Global Current blog will provide anecdotal guidance and advice as well as best practices for creating a J-1 visa program from scratch. The blog will also work to keep you abreast of industry trends and current events with added insight from a J-1 visa program sponsor.

For more information on Global Current please visit our website and the Global Current pages on Linkedin and Facebook.

Melany Hamner
Director, Business Developement