Monday, December 16, 2013

US Summer Internship/Au Pair Visas

The USA J-1 visa is an American visa that allows the applicant to participate in various exchange visitor programs whereby the applicant engages in skills training that can be applied in the applicant’s home country.

The USA J1 visa, along with the F-1 visa and M-1 visa, is issued in some circumstances for temporary immigration to America for students, discussed in full on the relevant pages of this website. J1 visas are also issued to those immigrating to the United States on a temporary basis to function as trainees in business and industry, research assistants, teachers and a variety of other non-permanent circumstances for relocating to the USA.

This page will examine the eligibility requirements for the J-1 visa when issued to those immigrating to the USA in order to participate in summer work/travel, internship, trainee, or Au Pair Exchange Visitor programs.

The J-1 visa, whatever the circumstances of its issue is a non-immigrant visa for the USA and as such, it will not lead to the opportunity to apply for a Permanent Resident Card for lawful permanent residence in the USA, or a US Green Card as it is more commonly known.  

Immigrating to America on a J-1 visa allows a foreign national to live and work in the USA for a limited period in a variety of capacities.

Applicant requirements
In order to obtain the necessary sponsorship for a J-1 visa either as an intern, trainee, or Au Pair, you must first contact a sponsoring organization within the United States.  

Please note that has partnered up with a J-1 sponsoring company that will assist in pre-placement or self-placement of summer work/travel, internship, and trainee programs in various industries in the US including a special internship program for nationals of the United Kingdom and Ireland.  
Please submit an assessment and inquiry for further information on this partnership.  Otherwise, a list of other designated J-1 sponsoring organizations can be found here.

Eligibility Criteria
The J-1 visa is designed for the non-immigrant visitor who is between 18 and 26 years of age; who are high school graduates; who have proficiency in spoken English; and who have no intention of abandoning his/her foreign residence.  

J-1 applicants typically include professors or research scholars, short term scholars, bona fide trainees or interns, college or university students, teachers, secondary school students, non-academic specialists, foreign physicians, international visitors, government visitors, camp counsellors, au pairs, or summer students in a travel/work program.  

The J-1 applicant can participate in an “Internship” whereby the foreign national is either currently enrolled in and pursuing studies at a degree-or certificate-granting post-secondary institution outside the US or graduated from institution no more than 12 months prior to the start date of the exchange program. The internship program is generally valid for 12 months.  
The J-1 visa applicant can also be apply for a “Trainee” program whereby the foreign national has a degree or professional certificate from a foreign post-secondary academic institution and at least one year of prior related work experience in his/her occupational field outside the US or five years of work experience outside the US in his/her occupational field.  

The trainee program is generally valid for 18 months, except in the case of agricultural and hotel and tourism, which are limited to 12 months with certain exceptions.

Finally, a J-1 visa applicant can participate in an “Au Pair” program, which permits youth from abroad to be placed with American host families seeking child care. The au pair visa will be granted for an initial period of 12 months although a US visa extension can be granted for another 12 months.

Although au pairs will be living and working in the USA providing childcare services to their host family, they will be obliged to amass at least six semester hours at a recognized US educational institution.  

Applicants will also be screened for suitability, a process which will involve a background investigation, criminal record check, physical examination and psychological tests.

Host families will be expected to provide the costs of the Au pair's journey to and from the United States. They will also be obliged to provide bed and board as well as wages for services rendered. Au pairs may not work for more than 45 hours per week and in addition, they must receive one full weekend off per month and a minimum of one and a half days off per week.  

Where candidates are placed with young children additional requirements will apply. Where a child aged less than 3 months is present, at least one parent must also be present at all times. Where children are under two years, an au pair may only be left alone with them if they have amassed more than 200 hours of experience in infant care. 

Where USA visas are granted for working with families with special needs children, candidates must have experience in special needs care which has been reviewed and accepted in writing by the host family.  Au pairs will also receive lodging, meals, their own bedroom, and the cost of their round trip will usually be paid for by the host family.

The academic requirements for the American au pair visa are less than those for employment-based routes to the United States. Other non-immigrant visas such as the H1-B visa require postgraduate candidates as do many of the employment-based routes to Green Cards in the USA.  

Au pair visas only require candidates to have graduated from secondary education. However, due to the nature of au pair work, this USA immigration service is one of the most closely scrutinized exchange programs and potential candidates, as well as the host family will be subject to a range or screening procedures.

Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement
Some countries impose a two-year foreign residency requirement upon J-visa holders in which applicants must return to their home country upon completion of their training in the US before they are eligible to apply for an immigrant visa, adjust status, change status, or apply for an H or L visas.  

However, an applicant may receive a waiver of the two-year foreign residency requirement under certain applications and circumstances.  Please contact our US branch office for further information on the two-year foreign residency requirement and any necessary waivers.

Spouse Immigration and Dependent Immigration
Depending upon the nature of the exchange visitor program you are participating in, dependant visas may or may not be available to dependants of J-1 visa holders. For more information on whether or not you will be entitled to dependant visas for your family as a J-1 visa holder, please contact one of our US migration consultants.

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