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.