J-1 Visa USA Overview – A Step by Step Guide for Hospitality Professionals

Who doesn’t want a job experience from the USA? In this article, we will discuss in detail all about J1 Visa for 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 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 article covers the following in details.

  • 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 J1 visa of 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
  • Common queries and questions about J1 Visa
  • Who can apply for the J1 visa
  • Eligibility Criteria and documents for J1 visa
  • Overview of the Hospitality industry of USA


Let’s throw in some basic fact 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 J-1 visa program are girls
  • 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.


J-1 Visa USA Overview for Hotel Management Professionals


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 huge hotel industry in the 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


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 J-1 Visa.


All about J1 Visa for USA


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. 


Marriott J-1 Visa Programs


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

check our step by step guide on J1 Visa following this 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.

  • 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.


J1 Visa- basics of J1 Visa

Image from-  U.S Department of State


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. an 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 in the official website as it is the most authenticated source for information regarding J1 visa sponsors and process.


J-1 Visa for Hotel Industry Professionals 


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.


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


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 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
  3. Alliance Abroad Group

There are several others like Global Career Exchange, Pan Atlantic International, Spirit Cultural exchange, Center for international career development, Seattle 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.

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 the 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.

We don’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 J1 visa process for the USA. Please use the directory to screen sponsors for your industry.

Global Hospitality Portal belongs to the hospitality niche and for a better user experience of hospitality professionals, we have named a couple of sponsors who have been dealing in the hospitality industry and catering to a global hospitality audience.

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.



Common questions about the J1 Visa

Common questions- J1 visa for USA

There are several myths that surround the J-1 visa process and US visas in General.

There are a lot of consultancies in various countries who claim to be sponsors of J-1 visa and this is grossly incorrect.


J1 visa Sponsors are from the US only and authorized by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.


Please find below a few facts that answer general queries about J1 visas.

  • Only authorized sponsors can provide DS-2019 (certificate by sponsor) and all of these sponsors are based in the U.S
  • The application timeline is variable from country to country and depends on the time of the year and the number of applications in the queue. You can check the information about visa timelines of your country from Travel.State.Gov site.
  • Many J-1 Visa category doesn’t allow you to carry your spouse or family along with you.
  • In a few categories when spouse and children are allowed, they need a J-2 visa which normally doesn’t allow them to take up a job.
  • You can’t arrive earlier than 30 days of the start of your programme and have to exit the USA within 30 days of completion of the programme.
  • Your sponsor can extend your J-1 Visa by 12 months.
  • In the worst case of termination, the employee has to leave the USA immediately.
  • You are not allowed to take up any other work as a J1 visa holder.

You can get more information from the official website about the common questions on a J1 visa.


Who can apply for the J1 visa?

Who can apply - J1 Visa

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

If you fall under 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 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


 A quick overview of the hospitality industry in the USA


Now, one might think why is the J1 visa USA this popular. Let’s look at this in the context of the hospitality industry.

The Hospitality industry in the USA provides training opportunities in various sectors such as tourism and hospitality, management, finance, business, Media communications, public administration, etc.

The hospitality industry of the USA is big and booming.

This industry is much broader than any other industry.

Have a look at the below infographic courtesy American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) about the Lodging industry of US in 2015.




This is just the story of the Hotel industry of US.

It is a common myth of the hospitality industry that hospitality industry covers the hotels alone which is wrong. Hotels are just a segment of this huge industry.

Restaurants, Theme Parks, Casinos, Facilities and forms of transportation provided to tourists such as cruise ships, trains, airlines etc. are also part of this industry.

Hospitality and Tourism Institutes also are very much a part of this industry. This increases the opportunities available to hospitality professionals from all around the globe.

Also, look at the top hospitality companies in the USA  to know more about the hospitality industry of the USA.

A majority of the organizations in the global top 100 hospitality company list are from the USA and this increases the attractiveness of the hospitality industry of the USA.



Eligibility Criteria and document checklist of J1 visa


The below 3-minute video sums up the details about J-1 visa requirements, eligibility and common questions.



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

Most basic of the fact about J1 visa eligibility is that you need to be at least 18 years old.

It’s essential to know about the procedure knowing what will be asked when interviewed and what all 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, we would also like to mention that it is extremely important to be aware of fraudulent activities happening in the name of J-1 visa.


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