J-1 Cultural Exchange Visa

An often overlooked visa option available to American technology companies is the use of foreign “trainees.”

The “J” exchange visitor program is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences.

Participants include students at all academic levels; trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies; research scholars; and international visitors coming for the purpose of traveling, observing, consulting, conducting research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs.

Although they are allowed to be paid, the primary purpose of their visa must be to receive training. The trainee must be accepted by an approved foreign exchange program.

Trainees can change status from a J-1 to an H-1B or any other visa category provided that there is not “home residency” requirement on their visa.