How to Qualify for the J-1 Hospitality Program


The United States’ J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is designed to give foreign nationals the ability to expand their careers and education by traveling to the U.S.

At Hospitality Placements USA, we specialize in helping young professionals in the hospitality industry secure their J-1 Visa and find a paid placement in a luxury hotel. We’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to qualify for the J-1 Program.

The program isn’t right for everyone, and also not everyone can qualify.

We’re going to show you a few things that you need to keep in mind if you’re considering applying for a J-1 Visa including all the basics, some common questions, and the eligibility criteria.

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program: How to Qualify

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program can be a game-changing opportunity for young professionals to build an impressive resume and gain experience that couldn’t be achieved in their home country.

Is the J-1 Visa Program right for you? Let’s take a look.

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Basics

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program was originally created in 1961 to help strengthen relations between the United States and other countries. Visitors to the U.S. have the opportunity to visit for a short period of time and receive hands-on training in a professional environment.

To secure your J-1 Visa, you have to go through a strict application process and meet all of the stringent eligibility requirements laid out by the U.S. State Department and your own home country. This includes finding a program sponsor and securing a position at a host company.

Sponsors are designated by the State Department to screen and select potential exchange visitors that meet government regulations and issue your Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status that you’ll need to get your visa.

Host Employers will extend an offer of employment to you during your J-1 Visa Program. They will pay your wages during your program and will be providing training and job experience for you.

Depending on the type of work, and the company that sponsors your visa, your spouse may also be able to secure a J-2 Visa that would allow them to travel with you.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Qualifications

In order to participate in the J-1 program, the U.S. State Department has laid out some requirements that you have to meet.

  • You must have proficient English skills to perform in both social and training activities.
  • You should have a permanent residence in your home country that you do not intend to abandon.
  • You should be intent upon leaving the U.S. once your program is completed — and you should be prepared to demonstrate your intent to the Embassy when you apply for your visa.
  • Make sure that your training in the U.S. would be in a field that would be helpful to you in your home country.
  • Be willing to commit to your program for the full duration of it.
  • Be able to qualify for basic health insurance that will be provided by your sponsor organization for the duration of your program.
  • Be 18-years-of-age or older, in good health, and able to perform your duties as outlined in your program.
  • Have the funds required to be able to cover all expenses and accommodations on arrival in the USA.

Additionally, interns and trainees each have their own requirements.

Interns must be currently enrolled as a full-time student in a post-secondary academic institution outside the U.S. or they have to have graduated in the past 12 months with a hospitality, hotel, tourism or culinary related degree. It’s also preferable if you have related experience or on-the-job training for the position that you’re applying for.

Trainees must hold a hotel-related, hospitality or culinary degree or diploma in addition to one year of full-time hospitality-related work experience outside the U.S. or at least 5 years of relevant work experience.

Common J-1 Program Questions

We hear a lot of the same questions from interns and trainees before they decide to apply to our program. Some of the common ones are:

What fees are involved with joining the program?

We have a full breakdown of the program fees listed here.

What is the difference between an intern and a trainee?

Interns are currently enrolled in or have graduated from their hospitality degree programs within the past year whereas trainees have more experience. Trainees graduated more than a year ago and have at least one year of hospitality experience.

Will I be employed full time during my J-1 program and will I be paid?

Yes, you will be paid by your Host Employer during your program and they are required to provide at least 32 hours of paid training for you each week. You will also receive time and a half pay for any overtime hours worked.

Can I work more than one job while I’m in the U.S.?

No. You cannot work a second job and you cannot transfer to another host employer unless there are extreme situations — and in those cases, your host employer and sponsor organization have to approve those in advance.

Where will I stay while I’m in the U.S.?

You will be required to find your own accommodations, however, your host company and our team here at HPUSA can make recommendations on suitable and affordable housing while you’re in the country. All our host companies will provide up to 4 weeks accommodation upon arrival in the United States.

Read more of our FAQs

These are just a few of the questions that we get asked. Click here to read the full list of commonly-asked questions.

Are You Qualified and Ready to Learn More?

Traveling to the U.S. on a J-1 Visa is a huge opportunity for you and your career. This resume-boosting experience might be just what you need to help you stand out in a sea of other applicants in your industry.

Keep learning more about what you need to do and get ready to start your journey. Subscribe to our newsletter and stay on top of all the latest tips and information on the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.

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