Frequently Asked Cultural Exchange Questions

What is the J1 Cultural Exchange Visa Program?

The J1 Cultural Exchange Visa Program is a non-immigrant visa which allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. to participate in an internship or training program with an American company for 12 months.

You will obtain practical experience to help reinforce your academic studies and enhance your career through a structured work-based program and improve your knowledge of American business culture.

Who is Hospitality Placements USA?

Hospitality Placements USA also known as HPUSA offers a professional service as a liaison between the J1 cultural exchange participant, the sponsor organization and the host employer. HPUSA acts as a vendor to our J1 participants by facilitating the J1 Visa process and supporting our participants to  successfully complete the program. HPUSA is not an employer.

Who is the sponsor organization?

HPUSA partners with State Department-designated sponsors who are authorized to issue the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status (Form DS-2019).

Who is the host employer?

The host employer will extend an offer for 12 months cultural exchange paid work-based training program. This will be the site of training and the J1 cultural exchange participant will be paid by the host employer.  HPUSA does not make any employment decisions as to how the participant will work, what their responsibilities will be, or whether the employment will be terminated, and has no authority to exercise any discretion.

What is the DS-2019 form?

The DS-2019 form is your work permit and will be issued to you by the sponsor organization. You will need this form when applying for your J1 Cultural Exchange Visa at the US Embassy.

Is it a Paid Traineeship/ Internship Program?

Yes the training is PAID and you will be treated just like an American employee. You can expect to earn the following amounts:

Front Office: Between US $9.00 to US $12.00 per hour
Food and Beverage: Average US $12.00 per hour (includes gratuity)
Culinary: Between US $9.00 to US $13.00 per hour

Supervisors can expect to earn more.

What Positions are Available?

Food and Beverage Division

This position offers you the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field of hospitality food service.  As a Food and Beverage Service Attendant, you will be exposed to the daily operations of the food service industry, while performing practical training assignments. Practical training may include the following: Food Server, Host/Hostess, Food Service/Beverage Service, Banquet/Catering Set-up and Service, and Food Retail Sales.

Front Office Department

This position offers you the opportunity to understand the daily operational procedures of a hotel or resort from front office. Practical training assignments may include: Front Desk, Reservations, Concierge, At Your Service, PBX and Night Audit.

Housekeeping Supervisor

This position offers you the opportunity to learn and practice the daily essential functions of a supervisor in the housekeeping department. Practical training assignments may include quality control, inspections, scheduling of staff, organizational skills, inventory, laundry supervision and business relationship between housekeeping and the other departments of the hotel/resort.

Culinary/Kitchen Management

This position offers you the opportunity to gain valuable, “hands on” experience while being exposed to the daily culinary operations of a hotel.  Practical training assignments may include: Food Preparation, Sauces, Stock, Line Cooking, Pastry, Breads, Dessert, Inventory and Kitchen Sanitation.

We have MANY PAID 12 month J1 Cultural Exchange internship/traineeship positions all over USA! Click Here for a sample of our current available HPUSA positions.

Will I have to Pay Income Tax?

Like everyone else who works in the U.S. you too have to pay your taxes BUT you don’t have to pay all of them.

When you arrive at your training your host company will ask you to complete two important tax documents, the  I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form and the W-4 Employees Withholding Allowance Certificate.

Be sure to indicate your permanent address in your home country. This will ensure that your host company has the correct address to send your W-2 statement of earnings at the end of the year.

When you receive your W2 you may file your taxes by going to this link:


  •      Social Security Tax
  •      Medicare
  •      Federal Unemployment
  •      Federal Income Tax
  •      State Income Tax
  •      City Income Tax

Is the Training Full Time?

Yes, the host company is required to provide 32 hours or greater per week. You can also expect to receive time and half for any overtime worked.

Does the hotel provide Accommodation?

You are responsible for your own accommodation for the duration of the training program. Most hotels will provide at least two weeks accommodation at the hotel upon arrival and then you MUST find your own suitable accommodation. Utilize the time before you arrive to research accommodation options on line. Your new host company can also assist you in finding suitable accommodation near the hotel.

What Hotel Brands can I train at?

We have many luxury Brand Hotels and Resort employers in USA, interested in providing you a PAID hands on work and training platform, as a foundation for your career in hospitality such as Hilton, Sheraton, Marriott, Westin, Crowne Plaza, Hyatt Regency, Intercontinental, Embassy Suites, W Hotel, Renaissance, and Radisson PLUS many more!

Can I choose the Location of my Program?

Although we encourage you to provide us with any location preferences you may have, please remember that you may be limiting your placement options if you hold out for a certain location. You must also remember that several hotels are unionized in the major tourist areas and do not recruit J1 participants i.e. Manhattan proper and parts of Los Angeles and Miami. Please also keep in mind that the high cost of living in these popular locations is prohibitive to your wages. You can always visit the tourist spots on weekends and vacation time. We do offer options for a Specific Location request at an additional fee. Please ensure to request your Specific Location on the online HPUSA application.

Can I Travel when in USA?

As a J-1 exchange visitor, you are permitted to remain in the country up to 30 days past the end date of your Form DS-2019. This time is for tourism and getting your affairs in order. You do not have work authorization during this time.

Can I visit my home country during the Program?

We highly recommend you stay in the United States for the duration of your training program, as you are committed to the host company for the entire 12 months. If you do need to travel outside the US during your program, you MUST be granted prior written approval from your host company and contact your sponsor organization. Failure to do so may jeopardize your J1 status and training program at your host company.

Can I Work a Second Job?

No, you cannot work a second job and cannot transfer to another location unless under extreme situations. All transfers must be approved by the host company and the sponsor organization in advance.

Do I have to pay for my Flight to USA?

Yes, you are responsible for organizing your travel details to USA.

How long does the Process take?

J1 Cultural Exchange Participants are expected to arrive at their host hotel employer company within 6 to 8 weeks from the time of receiving their Letter of Offer and Training Plan provided by the host hotel employer.

Do I need Health Insurance?

Yes, your sponsor organization will provide basic health insurance for the duration of your program and will pay for the insurance from your program fees. You will receive information on your insurance upon receiving your DS-2019 form from your sponsor organization.

How do I apply for a Social Security Card?

If you do not already have a social security number, you will need to apply for one five days after your official program start date. We will provide you with information to apply.

Will I be guaranteed a J1 Cultural Exchange Visa?

No, there is no guarantee that you will be granted a J1 Cultural Exchange Visa at the US Embassy. It is your responsibility to take all necessary documents with you to your visa interview.  The Embassy wants to know you will return back to your home country following the training in America.  Showing proof of this will help you secure your J1 Cultural Exchange Visa.
We suggest you take any of the following to your Embassy interview:

1) Anything in your name (car, apartment, house, loan, etc)
2) Copy of bank account from your country
3) Anything showing ties to your country (offer letter from employer – stating you will receive a job offer upon completing the training in America).

Can I extend my Training Program after the 12 months?

Depending on your individual situation, we may be able to assist with extending your training time at your hotel and securing a new training program on your behalf.  Please email Hospitality Placements USA in the first instance with your inquiry.

What Participants Say

“A journey of self-discovery and personal growth filled with unforgettable memories is what foreign exchange all about. I am so truly thankful for this experience; it has changed me forever. Living in a different country has opened my eyes. I learned to accept, and to be respected. I learned to be responsible, and to be careful. I learned to be friendly, and to be polite. Most of all, I learned how to live and realized that adventure was the best way to learn. An Exchange is an experience, never to be forgotten.”

Kristal Joy Unico
Sheraton Lake Bueno Vista