Guide to J-1 VISA Program

Please be advised that in order to take advantage of this program, you must already have found a company that is ready to employ you. The Chamber only provides visas and does not seek employment opportunities for those interested in participating in this program.
See the Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is the J-1 Visa?
    The J-1 visa is a cultural exchange visa issued by the U.S. Department of State that allows foreign students and professionals to train with an American corporation for a period not to exceed 18 months. The objective of the J-1 visa is to facilitate exchanges that allow individuals from around the world to gain a firsthand understanding of U.S. culture and institutions and to foster a better understanding of the American perspective on a variety of issues.
  • In which categories and professional fields is the IACC designated to sponsor J-1 Visa candidates?

    The IACC has been designated as an Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor by the U.S. Department of State and is authorized to approve training programs for interns (currently enrolled students/recent graduates) or trainees (young professionals) in the following fields: Management; Business, Commerce and Finance; and Public Administration and Law. The IACC has the responsibility to review participant applications to ensure that they meet the criteria established by the State Department for this type of visa.

  • Does the IACC provide assistance to trainees or companies seeking counterparts for the Exchange Visitor program?

    No. Trainees wishing to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program are responsible for securing their own traineeships. Similarly, companies wishing to host young professionals must have a trainee in place before approaching the IACC for assistance in securing a J-1 visa. Once a host company and its prospective trainee have a mutually agreed upon training opportunity in place, the parties may contact the IACC to begin the process.

  • Who is eligible to obtain a J-1 visa through the IACC?

    In order to qualify for the program, a prospective intern must be:

    • an Italian national who is currently enrolled in a post-secondary institution OR has received the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree within the last 12 months from the start date of their internship
    • at least 18 years of age
    • in possession of an internship offer from a qualified host company in one of the following fields: Management; Business, Commerce and Finance, Public Administration, and Law.

     

    In order to qualify for the program, a prospective trainee must be:

    • in possession of the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree and have accumulated at least one (1) year of employment experience in the proposed field of training.
    • at least 18 years of age.
    • in possession of a training offer from a qualified host company in one of the following fields: Management; Business, Commerce and Finance; Public Administration and Law

    OR

    • have accumulated five (5) years of employment experience in the proposed field of training.
  • What are the requirements of the companies interested in hosting trainees?

    The host company providing training must already be or become a member of the IACC. That company must submit a training plan for the prospective trainee and should also provide for cross-cultural activities such as company functions or cultural outings that will enhance the overall quality of the trainee’s experience in the U.S. The employer must also provide him or her with a maintenance allowance to cover living expenses during the training period. The maintenance allowance paid to the trainee should be comparable to the amount paid to other individuals having similar education and work experience. It is important to note, however, that the host company is required by law to pay the trainee at least the prevailing minimum wage as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.

  • What is the process for obtaining a J-1 Visa?
    Once a host company and a trainee have agreed upon a suitable training opportunity, they can contact the IACC to begin the application process (Click here for application forms). Upon receiving all completed application materials and provided that there is no need for further documentation or clarification, the IACC’s Responsible Officer will begin a review of the application. Upon an initial approval of the submitted application and a determination that the proposed trainee shall not be employed for the purpose of staffing or obtaining temporary help, the IACC will conduct an in-person or telephone interview with the prospective trainee in order to ascertain the trainee’s ability to adequately speak and comprehend the English language. Once the applicant has proven a level of English language proficiency that is satisfactory to the IACC officer processing the application, the IACC will send a “Certificate of Eligibility” (Form DS-2019) as well as additional orientation materials directly to the trainee abroad. The trainee must then present the application to the Non-immigrant Visa Unit of an American consulate located in Florence, Milan, Rome or Naples. The Consul shall then issue the applicant a J-1 Non-Immigrant Visa.
  • What are the participation fees for the IACC’s Exchange Visitor Program?

    The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce is a private, non-profit 501(c)(6) organization whose training programs receive no funding. Accordingly, its operating costs shall be covered by the fees paid by the participating host company.

    New members:

    • 18 Month Membership: $1,350
    • 12 Month Membership: $900

    Application Fee- Trainee (12-18 Months):  $ 1,700

    Application Fee – Intern (1-12 Months):  $1,300

    1-901 SEVIS Fee (U.S. Gov’t):  $180

    Dependent Fee (if applicable):  $200 (per dependent)

    Insurance coverage (12-18 Months):  $950

    Insurance coverage (1-12 Months):   $700

    Expedite Service (optional):  $250 – Application processed within 5 days

    Site visit Fee               Defined on a case by case basis

  • Are Intern/Trainees compensated for traineeships?
    Yes. Participating host companies are required by law to provide Intern/Trainees with an amount equivalent to at least the current prevailing minimum wage as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor. The IACC encourages host companies to compensate Intern/Trainees in a manner that is consistent with the salary that would be paid to a regular employee with commensurate levels of education and experience.
  • Are Intern/Trainees required to pay taxes on their earnings?
    Yes. Intern/Trainees are required to pay all federal and state taxes associated with earnings derived from their traineeships. State income tax rates vary (and some states do not have an income tax), but the federal income tax rate is determined by the level of one’s wage. Federal and state income taxes will be automatically deducted from the trainee’s paycheck by his or her employer. Intern/Trainees must file both federal and state (if applicable) income tax returns by April 15th for each year in which they earn income in the United States. For additional information on filing income tax returns, please visit the web site of the Internal Revenue Service at www.irs.gov.
  • Do Intern/Trainees need a Social Security number?
    Yes.  Upon arriving in the U.S., Intern/Trainees should apply for a Social Security card. In order to do so, Intern/Trainees must present themselves at their local office of Social Security Administration with a valid passport and DS-2019 Form. The nearest Social Security Administration office can be located on the Internet at www.ssa.gov.
  • Can Intern/Trainees’ spouses and/or children accompany them to the U.S.?

    Yes. Spouses and children wishing to accompany Intern/Trainees to the States during the duration of their training programs are included on the trainee’s “Certificate of Eligibility” (Form DS-2019) and are issued separate J-2 visas by the appropriate consulate in Italy. The visa status of dependents is contingent upon the visa status of the J-1 holder. Therefore, spouses and children are permitted to remain in the U.S. as long as the trainee is participating in a valid program and must leave upon the J-1 holder’s return to his or her home country.

  • How long can Intern/Trainees remain in the U.S. after their training program has ended?
    Intern/Trainees are permitted to remain the United States for up to 30 days after the program end date indicated on the Certificate of Eligibility.

Some useful links about the J-1 VISA