Regulations pertaining specifically to the Trainee category are found at [22 CFR 62.22]. The Department of State recently revised its trainee regulations and established a new intern category. The new regulations went into effect on July 19, 2007 and can be found at 22 CFR 62.22. The regulations specify new requirements for both the trainee and intern categories, including new requirements for sponsors to screen, vet, and enter into written agreements with third-parties who assist them in administering their exchange programs.
The Department will designate training programs in the following occupational categories:
- Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing
- Construction and Building Trades
- Education, Social Sciences, Library Science, Counseling and Social Services
- Health Related Occupations
- Information Media and Communications
- Management, Business, Commerce and Finance
- Public Administration and Law
- The Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics, and Industrial Occupations.
Training programs are designed to allow foreign professionals to come to the United States to gain exposure to U.S. culture and to receive training in U.S. business practices in their chosen occupational field. Upon completion of their exchange programs, participants are expected to return to their home countries where they will be able to utilize their newly learned skills and knowledge to advance their careers, and to share their experiences with their communities.
The enhanced Training program will provide quality opportunities to international participants who are looking to gain work-based practical training in the United States. The regulations prohibit sponsors from placing trainees in unskilled or casual labor positions, in positions that require or involve child care or elder care, or in any kind of position that involves patient care or contact. Further, sponsors must not place trainees in positions that require more than 20 per cent clerical or office support work.
A J-1 training program is intended to provide exchange visitors the opportunity to enhance their skills in their chosen career field through participation in a structured training program and to improve their knowledge of American techniques, methodologies, or expertise within their field of endeavor. Use of the Exchange Visitor Program for ordinary employment or work purposes is strictly prohibited. Sponsors may not place trainee participants in positions which are filled or would be filled by full-time or part-time employees.
A trainee must be a foreign national who:
- has a degree or professional certificate from a foreign post-secondary academic institution from outside the United States and at least one year of prior related work experience in his or her occupational field outside the United States, OR
- has five years of work experience outside the United States in the occupational field in which they are seeking training.
The maximum duration for the trainee category is 18 months except for the following restrictions:
- Agriculture programs are limited to a maximum duration of 12 months.
- Hospitality training programs are limited to a maximum duration of 12 months; any hospitality training program longer than six months must have at least three departmental rotations.
The training cannot duplicate a trainee participant's prior training and experience. Foreign nationals have had the opportunity to train with some of the finest employers in the U.S., gaining real time experience in their chosen career fields.
Training/Internship Placement Plan (T/IPP) (Form DS-7002)
The regulations incorporate a new form: Training/Internship Placement Plan (T/IPP) - Form DS-7002. This form is required for use in both Training and Internship programs. A copy of Form DS-7002 can be found on the Department’s website.
The T/IPP identifies the skills or experience the trainee will learn and must be signed by the trainee, host organization supervisor, and sponsor organization representative (RO/ARO) – before a sponsor may issue Form DS-2019. Faxed and digital signatures on the Form DS-7002 will be accepted, however, all three signatures must appear on the final form. Additionally, sponsors must have a written agreement in place with any third-party involved in a training program. The written agreement must outline the responsibilities on all matters involving the administration of the exchange visitor program.
Clarifications of Regulations Affecting the Trainee Category
Sponsors or any third-parties acting on their behalf must conduct a thorough screening of potential trainees, including a documented interview in-person, by video conference, or by web camera. In addition, participants’ English language proficiency must be evaluated more strictly or verified by a recognized English language test (TOEFL, Cambridge, etc.), by signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school, or through an in-person interview conducted by the sponsor, or by videoconference, or by web camera.
Midterm and Final Evaluations are required for training programs that exceed six months. For programs with durations of less than six months, a Final Evaluation is required. All evaluations must be received by the sponsoring organization prior to the end of the participant’s exchange program and must be signed by both the participant and his or her immediate supervisor.
Changes for Vetting Host Organizations
Sponsors of J-1 training programs must:
- Conduct site visits of host organizations that:
- Have not previously participated successfully in the sponsor’s program
- Have fewer than 25 employees
- Have less than 3 million dollars in annual revenue
- Collect the following information from all host organizations:
- Dun and Bradstreet Number - Employer Identification Number (EIN) - Verification of telephone number, address, brochures, website, etc., and - Proof of Worker’s Compensation Insurance Policy