GACC's J1 Visa - Program

Thank you for your interest in the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program of the German American Chamber of Commerce New York! 

Does it cost my company anything to take on a J-1 intern/trainee?

Does it cost my company anything to take on a J-1 intern/trainee?

There are no required costs to take on a J-1 intern/trainee, but there are required forms which will require the time of an employee at your company to fill out.

The GACC charges J-1 interns/trainees a fee for our visa sponsorship service. Some host companies do elect to pay the visa fee for their intern/trainee; other companies elect to only pay possible additional fees, such as the fee for express processing. There is no requirement to pay any fee on the part of your intern/trainee.

Host companies can always decide to pay the visa fee later on; it needn’t be decided at the beginning of the application process. Furthermore, host companies can always elect to privately reimburse their interns/trainees upon their arrival in the USA.

What sort of work does the J-1 visa application process entail for my company?

What sort of work does the J-1 visa application process entail for my company?

The host company is responsible for submitting two documents, the Host Company Application (HCA) and DS-7002/Training Plan. The HCA is a brief form, and host companies only rarely require significant assistance from us to complete it. 

The DS-7002/Training Plan is more complex and time-consuming, and in the event of longer or more complex internships/traineeships, input from multiple employees at the host company may be needed, as well as some assistance from the GACC case manager. 

How long does the application process take?

How long does the application process take?

Simply filling out the forms themselves may take 2-3 hours in total, but host companies who have never gone through the process before may require significantly longer. For host companies new to the process, it would be appropriate to assume at least two weeks of e-mail correspondence necessary to complete the HCA and Training Plan.

The host company documents form just one part of the application—interns/trainees are responsible for their own application documents and may take longer to complete their portion. And once the application is finished, processing times of 2-6 weeks (not including any legal holidays), or 2-5 business days for express service apply.

It is therefore probably best to have your future intern/trainee register with us at least three months before their start-date at your company. Sudden administrative delays, such as replacing an old passport, or obtaining new insurance coverage, can be discovered and avoided by starting the process early. Any completed application that was started less than 6 weeks before the intended start date of the internship/traineeship will automatically require express processing and payment of the express fee.

Do J-1 intern/trainees have to be paid?

Do J-1 intern/trainees have to be paid?

Any internship/traineeship longer than 3 months must include some form of pay or benefits in order for the GACC to act as a sponsor for the J-1 Visa. There is no requirement for internships/traineeships lasting less than 3 months.

Regardless of length, any intern/trainee whose compensation totals to less than $1500 per month will have to submit proof of financial support during their application in order to be sponsored by the GACC.

We encourage all host companies to consider the high costs associated with an international exchange internship/traineeship when deciding if and how much to pay their intern/trainee. In addition to (or in lieu of) a salary, compensation might include covering visa fees, travel costs, providing housing, providing daily lunch, or providing a car for commuting.

What sort of tax issues should host companies be aware of when paying interns/trainees?

What sort of tax issues should host companies be aware of when paying interns/trainees?

Any salary paid to interns/trainees is taxable, and subject to all the reporting requirements of a normal employee. Interns/trainees being paid must be issued a W-2. It is not allowed to pay interns through a 1099 form. Interns/trainees are exempted from Federal Unemployment, Social Security, and Medicare, but they must pay all Federal, State, and city/local income taxes.

How long can the internship/traineeship be? Is there a minimum and maximum length of time?

How long can the internship/traineeship be? Is there a minimum and maximum length of time?

The minimum length for any internship/traineeship is three weeks. Internships may last for up to twelve months and traineeships may last up to eighteen months.

Why is the “intern” I hired being designated as a “trainee”? Does this affect my plans for this “intern” in any way?

Why is the “intern” I hired being designated as a “trainee”? Does this affect my plans for this “intern” in any way?

Exchange visitors are designated either as interns or trainees depending primarily on their educational status at the time of application. Those who have finished their higher education more than one year before the start of their internship/trainee ship must be designated as trainees according to State Department regulations governing the J-1 Visa program. 

Generally speaking, the change in designation does not cause any changes for the host company or for the "traineeship" itself. There are, however, somewhat higher GACC visa fees and more extensive paperwork requirements for trainees. Trainees also may stay for a total of 18 months instead of 12 months. 

Can I extend the length of my intern/trainee’s stay at my company?

Can I extend the length of my intern/trainee’s stay at my company?

Yes, internships/traineeships may be extended to their maximum allowable length (see above). Extensions must be for a minimum of four more weeks.

For example: a 7 month internship may be extended up to 5 months for a total of 12 months. A 14 month traineeship may be extended up to 4 months, for a total of 18 months, while an extension of 6 months would not be possible (a total of 20 months).

More about the extension process can be found here (link on website). Extensions require the submission of some additional forms and payment of a fee, and they must include new or expanded responsibilities for the intern/trainee.

Who can I turn to in the event of any problems?

Who can I turn to in the event of any problems?

Every J-1 intern/trainee sponsored by the GACC is assigned a case manager for the duration of their application and exchange visit in the United States. The case manager is the first person host companies should reach out to in the event of problems. In the event that the case manager is not in the office or otherwise unavailable, simply contact the GACC office by phone, or write to our universal e-mail address visa(at)gaccny.com.

General concerns or comments about your experience taking on a J-1 intern/trainee or about the GACC’s sponsorship services can always be mentioned in the required written evaluations we send to all interns/trainees and host companies.