J-1 Visa USA Overview for Hotel Management Professionals

It’s no big secret the U.S. hotel industry is leaps ahead 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 J-1 Visa USA overview specifically for the hotel management professionals.

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

Let’s throw in some basic fact for you here based on the Government inputs:

  1. Over 300,000 international visitors travel to the USA on J-1 Visa programs.
  2. Over 200 countries participate in this program
  3. 54% of the exchange visitors on J-1 visa program are girls
  4. Over 85% of the exchange visitors are 30 years or younger in age

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



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 Hotel management professional, you have a slight advantage due to the variety of programs and a huge hotel industry of USA.

In this post, we are going to take a quick look at J-1 visa USA overview to get you started.


J-1 Visa USA Overview for Hotel Management Professionals


Some of the Largest 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 Visa and F-1 visa in the USA. 



In this post, we have only covered the overview of the J-1 visa for the USA. See our extensive guide on J-1 Visa USA for Hoteliers for greater details on the subject and to find suitable agencies. 


What’s 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.




J-1 Visa for Hotel Industry Professionals 

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.

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
  3. Alliance Abroad Group

There are several others like Global Career Exchange, Pan Atlantic International, Spirit Cultural exchange and so on.

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


J-1 Visa Checklist for Hospitality Industry professionals: Requirements and Qualifications

  • Age: you must be 18+ years old to qualify for an internship program for up to 12 months.
  • To be eligible as a J-1 trainee, you must be at least 20 years old.
  • In order to qualify for paid hospitality and culinary internships in the USA, you must fulfil at least one of the following two requirements: (1) be enrolled in and pursuing studies at a certificate or degree-granting college or institution outside of the USA, or (2) you’ve graduated with a degree or certificate from a credible hospitality institution in the past 12 months prior to the beginning of the internship.
  • In order to qualify for training in the US under J-1 visa for hotel industry professionals, you must: (1) have a professional certificate or degree from a credible academic institution outside of the US and at least 1 year of work-related experience, or (2) have at least 5 years of work experience outside of the USA if you don’t have a degree or professional certificate.    
  • Language: you must be fluent in English

It’s important to note that J-1 Visa for Hotel industry professionals allows you to stay up to 12 months. More importantly, you cannot change the employer once you’re in the US.

Here’s a quick video about the exchange visitors from the Bureau of Cultural Affairs USA. 

Although, the video is over 5 years old but still captures the essential information and J-1 Visa USA Overview for the hotel management internships. 



How to secure an offer under the J-1 Visa program for Hotel Management Professionals

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.



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

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.