What is the J1 Trainee visa, and what are the requirements to get it?

Important notice before reading this post: nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice, and all information is for educational purposes only.

This article has been reviewed by a certified immigration lawyer.

As a reminder, you must adapt your job search strategy according to the visa that suits you. Of the 15 J-1 visa exchange programs, we’re going to talk about the Trainee program.

The J1 Trainee visa is actually the one that Max got in 2018, after the E2 visa. At the same time, I got the J2 visa, which is a spouse visa related to the J1.

In this article, I will explain:

What the J1 Trainee visa is and who it’s for
The criteria of eligibility for obtaining it
The characteristics of the J-1 Trainee
Transfer from a J1 Trainee to another visa
Where to find companies that hire people on a J1 trainee visa

What is the J1 Trainee visa, and who is it for?

The J-1 Trainee visa is specifically intended for those who wish to strengthen their skills and gain more experience in their professional field.

The use of this visa for employment purposes is strictly prohibited. So, you and your “employer/trainer” will need to provide your sponsor with a “training program” to prove that you are not applying for an employee position, but rather, a corporate training plan.

The training program should not duplicate any of your previous work experience or training. You will need to demonstrate in your training program that you will acquire or enhance the skills that you already have, as well as those you need to work on.

For you to understand better, I will share our example. Max managed to get a J1 Trainee visa last year. The training program of his visa allowed him to become a senior software engineer. So, he had to demonstrate that his J1 program would allow him to strengthen his skills.

The criteria of eligibility for obtaining a J1 Trainee visa

To be eligible for this visa, you must have:

  • a degree in higher education or an equivalent certificate obtained in an institution outside of the United States
  • at least one year of experience outside the U.S. territory in the sector of ​​activity you want to pursue (note that if you do not have any professional experience but have a degree, you may be eligible for a J-1 intern visa, limited to 12 months)
  • your field listed below


  • 5 years of experience (starting at the age of 18) outside the U.S. territory in the sector of activity that you wish to strengthen
  • your field listed below

There is no age restriction, nor is there a number of years of experience required, for the J1 Trainee visa. However, it may be harder to qualify if you are older or have lots of senior professional experience. Max had more than seven years of experience as a software engineer when he obtained his J-1 Trainee visa.

You should always confirm the criteria of eligibility with your sponsor organization, because each organization has its own rules. I will detail the way to find a sponsor organization a little later in this article.

The eligible sectors

Warning! This J-1 Trainee visa is not suitable for unskilled positions. You will also not be able to apply for childcare, eldercare, or for care/contact with a patient. For those fields, you may be eligible for other visas or J-1 program visas, as with the J-1 Au Pair, or the J-1 Physician. In addition, you should not be hired to do more than 20 percent of clerical work.

The sectors eligible for obtaining a J1 Trainee visa are:

  • Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
  • Arts and Culture
  • Construction and Building
  • Education, Social Sciences, Librarianship, Counseling, and Social Services
  • Health
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Journalism and Communication
  • Management, Trade, and Finance
  • Public Administration and Law
  • Science, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics, and Industry

The characteristics of the J-1 Trainee visa

All advantages of the J1 has that you can use to approach companies.

J1 Trainee Visa duration

Depending on the training program, the sector, and the sponsor organization, the duration of the visa can vary from 3 weeks to 18 months, and it can be up to 12 months for the hospitality industry.

J1 extension

You can participate in as many J1 Trainee programs in the United States as you want as long as you are still eligible, and this lasts throughout your life. However, you will be able to get a new J1 Trainee visa only if you live outside the United States, and usually this is only if 24 months have passed since your previous J-1 Trainee program. Again, all of these factors depend on your sponsor organization and what they agree upon.

Can I transfer from a J1 to another visa?

The J1 Trainee visa is an exchange visitor program. Your intention here is to enhance your skills and expertise in the United States only, during the time of your J-1 visa. This will allow you to put it to good use in the rest of your professional career outside the U.S., especially in your home country.

However, if you currently have a J1 visa and want to change your status to a H1B or another visa, check first if you are not subject to the 2 years rule.

Where can I find companies that hire people on a J1 trainee visa ?

U.S. companies come to us every week, looking for hiring a J1 trainee. We vet those, and we connect those with J1 trainee applicants. Here more information

    Then, you will need to apply for a J1 visa through your sponsor.

    To go further, find interviews and testimonials from people who have obtained a J-1 visa.

    Interested in the J1 Trainee visa? Or, have you ever benefited from this visa? Share your experience in the comments below! 🙂

    21 thoughts on “What is the J1 Trainee visa, and what are the requirements to get it?”

    1. For traineeship eligibility, Do I need to have FULL-TIME 1 year experience or does PART-TIME in one year counts? Thank you.

    2. hi i refuse 2 times and plan to try again. they gave me 214b refusal do u think i have chance to approved .THEY SAID ineed to have more ties in my country

      1. Sarah Papasodaro

        You should contact your sponsor with this refusal reason so they can help you prove to the US embassy that you have more ties in your country.

    3. hi good day..im planning to apply for j1 visa as a trainee. but I’m already 33 years of age and 3 yrs. work experience in my related field. is there any chances for this age?

      1. Sarah Papasodaro

        Yes, there is no age limit for a J1 with us. However, you’ll need to prove that your J1 program is a program that will enhance your skills. I would suggest you apply for our J1 program and we will check your eligibility and come back to you: https://quickcheck.paperform.co/

    4. Hi, I’m currently in the middle of the hiring process for a VIE with a company in the US. I was looking for the criteria of eligibility to get a Visa J1 Trainee and I read somewhere that:
      1 – i must get a diploma outside the US
      2 – i must not have been declared to the US tax authorities

      The thing is that I did my last year of studies in the US thanks to an exchange program between my french school and an american university. Since I did that I earned my french degree + an MBA there, and since I was living there for a year I was forced to do some paperwork for the US taxes (even though I’ve never worked there and earned any money).

      Do you know if I’ll still be able to do a VIE in the US? Because my situation is a bit special and I’m kind of lost. The diploma I got there was part of an exchange program owned by my french school so I don’t know if it counts or not.

      Thanks in advance for your help!

      1. Sarah Papasodaro

        Hi Hugo,
        You may still be able to get a J1 visa with us (that is the visa used for VIE). We do not have any rules regarding past US tax authorities declaration, and we accept dual degrees. The VIE program has their own rule, you’ll need to check this directly with them.
        If you are not eligible for a VIE, you can still be eligible for a J1 with us. Please contact us here: [email protected] and we will be able to help you with that.

    5. Hi Sarah,

      I’m a college graduate from America and also worked one year there on my OPT. I’m looking at returning on a J1 Trainee visa. I’m just wondering could you explain more to me about this: “5 years of experience (starting at the age of 18) outside the U.S. territory in the sector of activity that you wish to strengthen”.

      Does this mean 5 years of experience from being in the US counts or doesn’t count?

      Hope to hear from you soon, thanks!

      1. Sarah Papasodaro

        It should be 5 years of experience outside the USA. all your experience you got when you were in the USA does not count. Same for education, we can only count your diploma issued by a non US institution, and if you have one in the right field, you only need 1 year experience if you are not a recent graduate of this. The best if for you to verify your eligibility by our team here: https://quickcheck.paperform.co/

    6. Ratsimbazafy Lari

      If all my experiences was onboard a cruise ship (Royal Caribbean ) I wouldn’t have chance to get the J1 Trainee visa?
      Thanks in advance for your response.


    7. Hi Sarah ,
      I have a degree in politics and international relations however I have been working in the business and marketing sector for 5-6 years now and I would like to get a job in that sector for my j1 visa . Can I do this and still be granted a j1 visa even if the job is not directly related to my undergraduate degree ?

      1. Alfhie Agbayani

        Hi Eby, J1 visa can last up to 18 months depending on the job role. If you are interested, please complete your USponsorMe profile: https://app.usponsorme.com/myprofile. This will allow US-based employers to contact you and enable us to notify you when a suitable job opening arises.

    8. HI Mam
      I am A graphic Designer now working in saudi arabia and wANT to migrate there can i plesae guide

      1. Alfhie Agbayani

        Hi Aftab, Thanks for reaching out! We specialize in helping international candidates find jobs in the US and secure visa sponsorship. If you’re interested, please complete your USponsorMe resume at https://app.usponsorme.com/myprofile. This will allow US-based employers to contact you and enable us to notify you when a suitable job opening arises.

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