Who doesn’t want a job experience from the USA? In this article, I will discuss in detail all about the J1 Visa for the USA or J1 as is used in common terminology.

To start with it is important to know that it’s not very easy to get a J1 visa for the United States of America (USA) and it is not for everyone.

It’s no big secret the U.S. hotel industry is leaps ahead of the rest. The good news is that if you’re currently studying or working in the hospitality field outside of the US, the J-1 visa program can provide you with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain experience working at a hotel in the United States. This post aims to provide a J-1 Visa USA overview specifically for hotel management professionals.

This article covers the following in detail.

  • J1 Visa Overview
  • A Step-by-step guide about J1 visa with details about the J1 visa for hotel jobs

This program is extremely popular among hospitality professionals from around the globe. 

In this post, we will discuss the J1 visa in the USA through the following points:

  • Basics of J1 visa Or The J1 Visa Overview for Hospitality professionals 
  • How should hospitality professionals apply for the J1 visa
  • Who can apply for the J1 visa
  • Eligibility Criteria and documents for J1 visa

This program comes especially handy if you’re looking for paid hospitality and culinary internships in the USA.

J-1 Visa USA Overview for Hotel Management Professionals

J-1 Visa USA Overview

Let me throw in some basic facts for you here based on the Government inputs:

  • Over 300,000 international visitors travel to the USA on J-1 Visa programs.
  • Over 200 countries participate in this program
  • 54% of the exchange visitors on the J-1 visa program are girls
  • Over 85% of the exchange visitors are 30 years or younger in age

What’s more, there are currently 13 types of privately funded J-1 Visa programs, so you’ll have no trouble finding one that’s best for your needs. 

It is also important to know that there are limited J-1 Visas available and the opportunity is open to almost all countries and almost to all industries.

So, it’s not an easy nut to crack for sure. But, as a Hotel management professional, you have a slight advantage due to the variety of programs and huge hotel industry in the USA.

USA issues J1 visa to promote cultural exchange thus, all the candidates or applicants applying for this visa category should meet certain criteria.

If they meet the eligibility criteria, they still need to follow a few steps to secure a J-1 Visa.

Some of the Top Hotel chains like Marriott offer both J-1 Visa programs as well as F-1 training programs for hotel management professionals.

Have a look at the details on the Career website of Marriott about the sponsoring agencies for J-1 visas and F-1 visas in the USA. 

Marriott J-1 Visa Programs

In this post, I have only covered the overview of the J-1 visa for the USA.

Check the step-by-step guide on J1 Visa in the following section.

What is a J-1 visa? 

Created under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, the J-1 visa is a multi-faceted foreign exchange program that allows international candidates to visit the US to study, teach, conduct research, demonstrate unique skills or receive on-the-job training for a given period, ranging from a couple of weeks to 18 months.

J1 Visa- basics of J1 Visa
  • There are 13 types of privately funded J-1 Visa programmes.
  • 300,000 participants from over 200 countries participate in these programmes.
  • More than 250,000 of these visitors are younger than 30 years.
  • Over 150,000 of these participants are female.
  • There are 1,400 designated sponsors all over the USA to participate in the J-1 visa scheme.
  • The sponsorship is approved by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
  • Most J-1 visas are of the duration of 12 months which can be extended by an additional 12 months.

The purpose of these programmes is to connect people and make them understand the culture of the US.

Also, this visa category helps in giving students, scholars, entrepreneurs, social workers etc. Exposure to one of the biggest markets of the world and an opportunity to be a part of the biggest economy in the world.

Full details can be obtained from the official website of J-1 Visa.

Please make it a point to go through the details on the official website as it is the most authenticated source for information regarding J1 visa sponsors and process.

How should hospitality professionals apply for a J1 visa? 

There are numerous agencies around the globe which claim to get this done on your behalf. 

However, most of these agencies would charge you a hefty sum. So, please use your discretion before you pay anyone.

Just Google search J-1 Visa and it would give you numerous options. Once you have the options make the list and research well on each of the options before paying anyone or before going too far into the application process.

Please only use authorised sponsors or get in touch with Hotels directly for information. Visit the Career website of the top hotels and apply online for internship opportunities.

The prominent sponsoring organizations that are permitted to assist you if you are selected in one of the hotels are:

  1. American Hospitality Academy
  2. InterExchange for Work and Travel Programs

There are several others like Global Career Exchange, Alliance Abroad, Pan Atlantic International, Spirit Cultural Exchange, Center for International Career Development, Seattle and so on.

To know the full list of eligible Sponsoring organizations, you can visit the ‘Sponsor Search page’ of the Official Website for J-1 Visa.

However, you must check if you do qualify to even get an acknowledgement from these hotels.

As discussed in the points mentioned in this post, there are sponsors authorized by the USA to facilitate J-1 visa programmes.

There are a lot of J1 visa sponsors which can be of interest to hospitality professionals.

The full list of sponsors can be assessed through the official link of the designated sponsors list.

A lot of sponsors are country-specific and thus look out for sponsors dealing with your country or region for better support and advice.

This portal doesn’t endorse or recommend any J1 visa sponsor on the list.

This post is meant to guide prospective candidates and provide them with a richer understanding of the J1 visa process for the USA. Please use the directory to screen sponsors for your industry.

However, please use your own discretion in terms of using any of the services these sponsors might offer and go through the directory in detail for more options.

  • Foreign nationals (Not from the USA) who are either trainees or interns can gain hands-on training and experience in the USA.
  • There are a handful of things you might want to keep in mind though when you opt to take advantage of the J-1 visa if you are a hotel industry professional.
  • Once you’ve been accepted as a trainee or have received an internship offer from a US hotel, you’ll have to reach out to a J-1 sponsorship organization sanctioned by the US Department of State.
  • Another way to get an offer or appropriate information about the J-1 Visa program is to try getting a referral from someone from the hotel industry who already has been to this program.
  • Try using social platforms like LinkedIn to get in touch with a few people who can direct you to legitimate agencies. 
  • If you are a hotel management student or a recent graduate, get in touch with your placement office for further guidance. Most of the hotel schools have tie-ups with sponsoring organizations. 

While there are no shortcuts to securing an offer under the J-1 visa program, the opportunity is well worth the effort and research required.

Who can apply for the J1 visa?

There is a wide range of who can apply for a limited number of positions assigned to this category.

If you fall in any of the categories below, you are eligible to apply for J-1 Visa.

Categories that might be of greater interest to hospitality industry professionals are highlighted in bold and italics.

  1. Summer intern as a part of University exchange programmes.
  2. Students of colleges and universities in the USA.
  3. Professors and research scholars who have established links with US Universities can travel to exchange ideas and to work on various research projects.
  4. Interns– This is of interest to Hospitality professionals. Whether you are a hospitality management student, a young Chef or a recent graduate of the hospitality and tourism industry, you are eligible to apply. This is a paid internship programme normally of a shorter duration than 12 months.
  5. Trainees– Hospitality and tourism professionals along with those of other trades are exposed to US culture and business approaches through a guided work-based training programme. This is normally paid and is of 12 months’ duration which can be extended by the sponsor.
  6. Experts– Experts from any field are called under the route to share their expertise. This might be of some interest to the Master Chefs.
  7. Physicians
  8. Teachers- Those involved in teaching and training in the hospitality and tourism sector can apply through this route.
  9. Social service and Philanthropist
  10. Au Pairs
  11. Government visitors

Eligibility Criteria and document checklist of J1 visa

People applying for this visa should possess adequate or satisfactory expertise in the English Language to take part in the programs.

Those who are willing to participate should have proof of funds to take care of all the expenses while in the U.S. even if it is a paid internship.

You need to be a graduate or pursuing a professional undergraduate course.

You should have having original Bachelor’s degree, high school diploma etc., with the transcripts from the Institute.

The most basic fact about J1 visa eligibility is that you need to be at least 18 years old.

It’s essential to know about the procedure what will be asked when interviewed and what documents should be prepared.

Preparation of the documents:

  • Passport should be at least valid for up to six months at the time of the completion of the J-1 visa program.
  • Form DS-2019 is required to bring for the interview which is the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. The program sponsor will provide you with the DS-2019 form.
  • Form DS-160: This is the online visa application form for the non-immigrants. This form is available online for people travelling to the USA for a short time. This needs to be with you. The confirmation page of this visa application form with the barcode is needed when going for the visa interview.
  • A photograph, if you were not able to upload it with the DS-160 form online.
  • The visa fee has to be paid in advance which is non-refundable. The receipt should be provided to confirm that the visa application fee has been paid.
  • The DS-7002 form, which is the training/Internship placement plan. It is provided by the employer.
  • The original appointment letter for the visa interview and a copy of it.
  • Bank statements and records to show if you have enough funds to cover the living costs.

Final Words

As final words to this post, I would also like to mention that it is extremely important to be aware of fraudulent activities happening in the name of a J-1 visa.

Reach out to the local US consulate and your international employer to check the authenticity of the promises or offers made to you.

Please, apply only through approved channels and take every caution before paying.

Some caution and research at the beginning are well worth the effort.

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    1. Hi Nidhi. Thanks for reaching out. We are not dealing with J1 visas at the moment but the article provides information regarding J1 visa and also names a few agencies in the US who can be contacted directly. In India there are lots of agencies that help in processing the file (but most of these are associated to one of the reputed sponsors in the US). The cost can vary and can range between $2500 – $5000 for the whole process. However, kindly do your due diligence before paying any consultant.

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