The limits of a person’s stay in each type of program, as well as the activities allowed in each program, are discussed below.
The government visitor category is for the exclusive use of U.S. federal, state, or local government agencies. Government visitors shall be authorized to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program for the length of time necessary to complete the program, which shall not exceed 18 months.
Participants in this category include editors, business and professional persons, government officials and labor leaders. The objective of this category is to develop and strengthen professional and personal ties between key foreign nationals and Americans and American institutions. Selected foreign nationals, recognized as influential or distinguished persons and who are selected by US federal, state, or local government agencies, participate in observation tours, discussions, consultations, professional meetings, conferences, workshops, and travel. These people-to-people programs enable government visitors to better understand American culture and society, and to contribute to American knowledge of foreign cultures.
The International Visitor category is for the exclusive use of the Department of State. The international visitor shall be authorized to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program for the length of time necessary to complete the program, which shall not exceed one year.
Selected foreign nationals who are recognized as potential leaders participate in observation, tours, discussions, consultation, professional meetings, conferences, workshops, and travel. The objective of these programs is to develop and strengthen professional and personal ties between key foreign nationals and Americans and American institutions. These people-to-people programs enable international visitors to better understand American culture and society, and to contribute to American knowledge of foreign cultures.
As participants in these program categories, foreign professors and research scholars engage in research, teaching, and lecturing with their American colleagues. Alien physicians in graduate medical education or training and short-term scholars are not included in this category.
The eligible participant shall not be a candidate for a tenure track position. Also, professor and research scholar participants may not be in the United States in J-visa status for any part of the 12-month period preceding the start date of their programs, indicated on their Form DS-2019. The 12-month bar is waived if the participant is 1) present in the United States no more than six months; or 2) participating in the Short-Term Scholar category.
At the discretion of the responsible officer, professors may freely engage in research and research scholars may freely engage in teaching and lecturing; this will not be considered a change of category. Incidental lectures or short-term consultations are permitted with the approval of the responsible officer so long as they are directly related to the objectives of the participant’s program, and do not delay its completion date. Please consult the regulations for details.
The maximum duration for both categories is five years. The responsible officer may extend a participant’s program for up to six months to allow the research scholar or professor to complete a specific project or research activity. Extensions for a period longer than six months must be approved in writing by the Department of State. The responsible officer should submit a written request to the Department on behalf of the participant, no less than 60 days prior to the expiration of the participant’s permitted three-year period. The fee for extension requests, payable to the Department of State at the time of application, is $198.
A short-term scholar is a professor, research scholar, or person with similar education or accomplishments who visits the United States to lecture, observe, consult, train, or demonstrate special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions, or similar types of institutions.
The duration of the program is the time needed to complete the objective, up to a maximum of six months. The minimum program duration of 3 weeks for any Exchange Visitor Program category is waived for participants in this category. Extensions are not permitted.
Short-term scholars may participate in the Exchange Visitor Program at conferences, workshops, seminars, or other events listed their Forms DS-2019. Participants may also lecture or consult at institutions not listed on the Form DS-2019 if the responsible officer issues a written authorization for such activity. The authorization must be attached to the participant’s Form DS-2019.
Specialists are experts in a field of specialized knowledge or skill, who come to the United States to observe, consult, or demonstrate special skills. (Professors, research scholars, short term scholars, and alien physicians are excluded from this category.) Some examples of fields represented include mass media communication, environmental science, youth leadership, international educational exchange, museum exhibitions, labor law, public administration, and library science.
The purpose of the specialist category is to facilitate exchange among experts at scientific institutions, government agencies, museums, corporations, libraries, and similar types of institutions. The maximum duration of this category is one year.
This category provides foreign students the opportunity to study at a degree-granting post-secondary accredited educational institution. Students may participate in degree and non-degree programs.
Foreign students are eligible to participate in this category if at any time during their college studies in the United States they or their program are financed directly or indirectly by the United States Government, the government of their home country, or an international organization of which the United States is a member by treaty or statute, or if they are supported substantially by funding from any source other than personal or family funds. Students are also eligible if their program is carried out pursuant to an agreement between the United States Government and a foreign government, or pursuant to written agreement between American and foreign educational institutions, an American educational institution and a foreign government, or a state or local government in the United States and a foreign government.
Students who are in degree programs shall be authorized to participate in this category as long as they either study at the post-secondary accredited educational institution listed on their Form DS-2019 or participate in an authorized academic training program, as permitted in [22 CFR 62.23(f)]. Students admitted to non-degree programs shall be authorized to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program for up to 24 months if they are studying at the post-secondary accredited educational institution listed on their Form DS-2019 or participating in an authorized academic training program, as permitted in [22 CFR 62.23(f)]. Students in either degree and non-degree programs must pursue a full-time course of study, as defined in [22 CFR 62.23(e)], and maintain satisfactory advancement toward the completion of their academic program. Before issuing the Form DS-2019 sponsors determine that their participants have the academic credentials required for their program, and ensure that they have been admitted to the post-secondary accredited educational institution listed on the Form DS-2019.
Participants in this category are required to maintain a full course of study as defined in [22 CFR 62.2], except (1) during official school breaks and summer vacations if the student is eligible and intends to register for the next term; or because (2) of an illness or medical condition; (3) for a bona fide academic reason; (4) they are engaged full time in a prescribed non-degree program for up to 24 months; (5) they are engaged in authorized academic training; or (6) they require less than a full course of study to complete their academic requirements during the final term. To justify a reduction or interruption in studies for medical or academic reasons, students must present the responsible officer a written statement from a physician or from the academic dean or advisor, respectively, recommending such a course of action.
Students may participate in academic training with or without wages or other remuneration during their studies with the approval of the academic dean or advisor and the responsible officer.
Participation in academic training programs for wages or other remuneration must be authorized in writing and in advance by the responsible officer for the duration and type of academic training. It may take place during the student’s studies or may commence no later than 30 days following the completion of the student’s studies if the (1) student is in the United States primarily to study rather than engage in academic training; (2) academic training is directly related to the student’s major field of study at the post-secondary accredited educational institution listed on the Form DS-2019; and (3) student is in good academic standing.
The duration of the academic training is the length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training, provided that the amount of time for academic training is approved by the academic dean or advisor and the responsible officer. Academic training for undergraduate or pre-doctoral students may not exceed 18 months, inclusive of any prior academic training in the United States, or the period of full course of study, whichever is less. However, academic training for a longer period is allowed to the extent necessary for students to satisfy the mandatory requirements for their degree programs. Academic training for postdoctoral students does not exceed 36 months, inclusive of any prior academic training in the United States, or the duration of the student’s full course of study in the United States, whichever is less. A new Form DS-2019 is issued for every 18-month period of academic training for postdoctoral students.
Procedures for requesting academic training are explained in the category regulations, at [22 CFR 62.23(f)(5)]. Please refer to this citation for details.
Participants in this category may engage in part-time employment under certain conditions, including good academic standing at the post-secondary accredited institution indicated on the Form DS-2019. The employment must be pursuant to the terms of a scholarship, fellowship or assistantship, and must occur on the premises of the institution at which the student is authorized to attend. Employment may be off-campus only if the student is in serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances that have arisen since acquiring exchange visitor status. The employment cannot total more than 20 hours per week except during official school breaks and during the student’s annual vacation, and students must continue a full course of study except for official school breaks and the student’s annual vacation. The responsible officer must approve the employment in advance and in writing. Approval may be valid for up to 12 months, but is automatically withdrawn if the student’s program is terminated.
Regulations pertaining specifically to the College/University Student category are found at [22 CFR 62.23]. Please refer to the category regulations for details on the screening and selection of the students and the sponsor’s administrative obligations and procedures.
Through this category, foreign medical graduates may pursue graduate medical education or training at accredited schools of medicine or scientific institutions. Program participants in this category are sponsored solely by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
To be eligible, foreign medical graduates must meet several criteria including, but not limited to, the following. They must have adequate prior education and training, and pass any of several qualifying exams, identified in the regulations. Competency in oral and written English is required. Program participants must provide a statement of need from the government of the country of their nationality or last legal permanent residence, and an agreement or contract from a U.S. accredited medical school, an affiliated hospital, or a scientific institution to provide the accredited medical education.
Regulations pertaining specifically to the Alien Physician category are found at [22 CFR 62.27]. Please refer to the regulations for details.
Through the Au Pair program foreign nationals between 18 and 26 years of age participate directly in the home life of a host family by providing limited childcare services for up to 12 months. Childcare is limited to no more than 10 hours per day, and to a maximum of 45 hours per week.
Au pairs are compensated for their work according to the Fair Labor Standards Act as interpreted and implemented by the US Department of Labor. Participants in the Au Pair program must be proficient in spoken English, and are required to complete at least six hours of academic credit or its equivalent at an accredited US post-secondary educational institution. Host families are required to pay up to $500 toward the cost of the au pair’s required academic course work.
Au pair participants may not be placed with a family having an infant aged less than three months unless a parent or other responsible adult is at home. Neither may au pairs be placed in homes with children under two years of age unless the au pair has at least 200 hours of documented infant childcare experience. Au pairs are not to be placed in families with a special needs child, so identified by the family, unless the au pair has specifically identified prior experience, skill, or training in caring for special needs children and the host family has reviewed and acknowledged the stated prior experience, skills, or training in writing. Regulations pertaining specifically to the Au Pair category are found at [22 CFR 62.31]. Please refer to the regulations for details.
Sponsors are required to screen and select both host families and au pairs as program participants according to selection criteria stated in the regulations. Interested parties should contact the sponsoring organizations directly to obtain additional information regarding their program. All au pairs are to receive specific orientation and program information from the sponsor prior to departure from their home countries for the United States. Please refer to the regulations for details. Pre-arrival information for all exchange visitors is defined at [22 CFR 62.10(b)(1-8)] and specifically for au pairs at [22 CFR 62.31(f)]. Orientation material (post-arrival) is defined at [22 CFR 62.10(c)(1-7)]. Selected host families also receive specific information from the sponsor. Orientation for host families is discussed in the regulations at [22 CFR 62.31(i)(1-4)].
The sponsor is to provide au pairs with training in child development and child safety prior to their placement with a host family. A minimum of eight hours of child safety instruction, of which at least four relate to infants, and a minimum of 24 hours of child development instruction, of which at least four relate to children under two years of age, are required.
Host families and au pairs must sign a Host Family-Au Pair Agreements prior to the au pair’s placement in the host family’s home. In the event of questions regarding refunds or other adjustments host families and au pairs should refer to their agreements. The Department of State does not have jurisdiction over contractual obligations.
The Au Pair program includes the EduCare component. The EduCare component is only for families who have school-aged children and require childcare before and after school hours. Accordingly, au pairs participating in the EduCare component may not be placed with families having preschool children, unless alternative, full-time arrangements are in place for their supervision. The EduCare au pair may work no more than 10 hours per day, and a maximum of 30 hours per week. Au pairs participating in the EduCare component receive 75 percent of the weekly rate paid to au pairs. EduCare au pairs must complete a minimum of 12 hours of academic credit or its equivalent during the program year. The host family is required to provide (up to) the first $1,000 toward the cost of the au pair’s required academic course work. Please refer to the regulations for details.
Camp Counselors interact directly with groups of American youth by overseeing their activities in a camp setting during the U.S. summer season. Non-counseling chores may be an occasional part of camp life; however, program participants do not serve as “staff” — including (but not limited to) administrative personnel, cooks, or menial laborers such as dishwashers or janitors. Foreign university students, youth workers, and other specially qualified individuals at least 18 years of age and proficient in English may work as counselors in U.S. Summer camps for up to four months. Extensions are not permitted.
All program participants must be placed prior to their arrival in the United States at camping facilities which are either accredited; a member in good standing of the American Camping Association; or affiliated with a nationally recognized nonprofit organization; or inspected, evaluated, and approved by the sponsor.
Participants receive pay and benefits commensurate with those offered to their U.S. counterparts. Sponsors must provide information on the duties, responsibilities and contractual obligations relative to accepting a camp counselor position to their participants prior to departure from the home country.
Through the high school exchange program, foreign secondary school students enter the United States to complete up to one year of academic study at an accredited public or private secondary school. During their stay, participants live with American host families or reside at accredited U.S. boarding schools. Students attend school as full time students and may attend for not less than one academic semester (or its quarter equivalent) or more than a full academic year.
Eligible participants are between the age of 15 and 18-and-a-half years at the time of initial school enrollment (by the first day of school), or have not completed more than 11 years of primary and secondary school (excluding kindergarten). Students who have previously participated in an exchange program are ineligible for participation in the high school program.
Prior to the students leaving their home country, program sponsors are required to provide them with all travel arrangements and a profile of the school, host family and community in which they have been placed. Students and their parents should be made aware whether their host family is considered an arrival (temporary) family or a permanent family for the school year.
Students may take part in school sanctioned extracurricular activities, including athletics, if the school district and the state authority responsible for determining athletic eligibility approve their participation. Students may not be employed on a part- or full-time basis, but may accept occasional work such as yard work or baby-sitting.
Sponsoring organizations may not under any circumstance facilitate the entry of any foreign student into the United States without a school placement. They must obtain written notice of a participant’s acceptance by the school from the principal or other authorized school administrator. Sponsors may not enroll more than five students in one school unless so requested in writing by the school.
Sponsoring organizations are required to screen all potential host families with whom participating students are placed. Sponsors ensure that the family can provide a comfortable and nurturing home environment, and has adequate financial resources to undertake hosting obligations. Under no circumstances will a sponsor facilitate the entry of any student for whom a host family placement has not been secured. A second student may be placed with a host family only with the prior written approval of the Department of State.
Regulations pertaining specifically to the High School category are found at [22 CFR 62.25]. Please refer to the program regulations for details on the screening and selection of the students, host families, and the sponsor’s administrative obligations and procedures.
Through this category foreign post-secondary students may enter the United States to work and travel for a maximum of four months during their summer vacations. While most participants enter the United States with prearranged employment, sponsors are required to place only 50 percent of their participants each year. Sponsors must ensure that participants entering the United States without prearranged employment have sufficient financial resources to support themselves during their search for employment. In addition, sponsors must provide such participants with information on how to seek employment and secure lodging in the United States before they depart their home countries, and with a job directory that includes at least as many job listings as the number of participants in their program who are entering the United States without prearranged employment. Finally, sponsors must undertake reasonable efforts to secure suitable employment for participants unable to find jobs on their own after one week.
Sponsors are to advise program participants about Federal Minimum Wage requirements, and are to ensure that participants receive the same pay and benefits as received by their American counterparts in the same or similar positions.
Program regulations permit participants to repeat the program more than once. However, sponsors are required to limit the number of repeating participants to no more than 10 percent of the number of their previous year’s participants.
Department regulations prohibit the placement of program participants as domestic help in U.S. households or in positions requiring them to invest their own money for inventory, such as door-to-door sales. Most participants typically work in non-skilled service positions at resorts, hotels, restaurants, and amusement parks. Summer internships in US businesses and other organizations (i.e., architecture, science research, graphic art/publishing and other media communication, advertising, computer software and electronics, and legal offices, etc.) are allowed. However, the term of the internship may not exceed the four-month program duration, and must be completed during the student’s summer vacation.
Regulations pertaining specifically to the Summer Work/Travel category are found at [22 CFR 62.32]. Please refer to the regulations for details.
Through this program, foreign nationals are afforded opportunities to teach in primary and secondary accredited educational institutions in the United States for up to three years.
To be eligible to participate in this program, foreign nationals must meet the qualifications for teaching in primary or secondary schools in their country of nationality or last legal residence, have a minimum of three years of teaching or related professional experience, and satisfy the standards of the US state in which they will teach. They must also be of good reputation and character, and seeking to enter the United States to teach full time at a primary or secondary accredited educational institution in the United States. Sponsors are required to evaluate the qualifications of their applicant participants to determine that the above criteria are met and applicant participants are proficient in the English language, and to secure references from colleagues and current or former employers attesting to the applicants’ good reputation, character, and teaching skills.
Sponsors may issue a completed Form DS-2019 only to their selected program participants who have received a written offer of a teaching position from the accredited institution at which they will teach, and who have accepted the position in writing. The location of that institution/s is to be indicated on the Form DS-2019, and participants may teach only at the institution/s and at locations where the institution/s is involved in official school activities (for example, field trips and teacher training programs). The appointment of program participants in a teaching position is temporary, even if the teaching position is permanent. Also, the position is to be in compliance with any applicable collective bargaining agreement, where one exists.
As part of the required pre-departure materials, sponsors are to provide their participants with the following information:
Regulations pertaining specifically to the Teacher category are found at [22 CFR 62.24]. Please refer to the program regulations for details about this category and the sponsor’s administrative obligations.
Regulations pertaining specifically to the Trainee category are found at [22 CFR 62.22]. Regulations pertaining to academic training for foreign students studying at post-secondary accredited educational institutions in the United States are found at [22 CFR 62.23]. Regulations pertaining to medical trainees are found at [22 CFR 62.27].
The training program provides exchange visitors the opportunity to enhance their skills in their chosen career field through participation in a structured training program and to improve their knowledge of American techniques, methodologies, or expertise within their field of endeavor. Such training shall not duplicate a trainee participant’s prior training and experience. Use of the Exchange Visitor Program for ordinary employment or work purposes is strictly prohibited. Sponsors may not place trainee participants in positions which are filled or would be filled by full-time or part-time employees.
The maximum duration of any training program, with the exception of flight training programs, shall not exceed 18 months. The actual duration of a participant’s training program shall correspond to the length of the program stated in the sponsor’s designation language and indicated on the participant’s Form DS-2019 form.
The Department of State defines occupations into specialty, non-specialty and unskilled occupational categories. Training programs for unskilled occupations are not permitted. See Appendix E for list of unskilled occupations.
Specialty training programs are for participants who have completed a four-year degree in their field or a recognized professional certificate. Non-specialty training programs do not require participants to have completed a degree. However, program participants must have at least two years of education, training or experience in the field in which they are to receive training. Definitions for specialty and non-specialty training may be found at [22 CFR 62.2].
Training opportunities are offered to eligible foreign nationals under the sponsorship of legal entities designated by the Department of State to administer a training program at the specialty and/or non-specialty levels in the following broadly-defined occupational categories:
1.Arts and Culture
2.Information Media and Communications
3.Education, Social Sciences, Library Science, Counseling and Social Services
4.Management, Business, Commerce and Finance
5.Health Related Occupations
7.The Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics, and Industrial Occupations
8.Construction and Building Trades
9.Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
10.Public Administration and Law
Sponsors are designated in any combination of occupational categories, specialty and/or non-specialty levels, and for specified periods that may not exceed 18 months. Sponsors may provide training for only those fields within the occupational category/ies for which they have been designated, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from doing so. Sponsors may not provide training beyond the occupational category, level, and program duration identified in their designation.
Sponsors are directly responsible for all aspects of their program, including the selection, orientation, training, supervision, and evaluation of the trainee. Sponsors must ensure that:
In addition to the pre-arrival information specified in [22 CFR 62.10], the sponsor also provides the information stated below to participants prior to their departure from their home countries.
To ensure the quality of the training program, sponsors are required to develop evaluation procedures for trainees in their program. As a minimum, evaluations must include midpoint and concluding reports, completed by the trainees and their immediate supervisors, signed by both parties. Training courses of less than three months duration require only one evaluation report at the conclusion of the training program.
The Department permits sponsors to use a third party in the conduct of the designated training program. However, the sponsor’s use of a third party does not relieve the sponsor of its obligation to comply, and to ensure the third party’s compliance, with all applicable regulations. Any failure on the part of the third party to comply with all applicable regulations is imputed to the sponsor.
The sponsor and the third party must execute a written agreement that delineates the respective obligations and duties of the parties and states the third party’s obligation to act in accordance with the Exchange Visitor Program regulations.
In addition to complying with the regulations for Training programs, sponsors applying for designation of a flight training program must also meet the following requirements.
The program must be a Federal Aviation Administration certified pilot school according to Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 141.
The program is accredited as a flight training program by an accrediting agency listed in the current edition of “Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies and Associations” (U.S. Department of Education), or is accredited as a flight training program by a member of the Council on Post-Secondary Accreditation. If the sponsor is not accredited at the time of application, it must have formally commenced the accreditation process. Programs pending accreditation may be designated for 12 months; continued designation is predicated on the successful completion of the accreditation process.
The maximum program duration for Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certification is 24 months. The maximum program duration of all other flight training programs is 18 months total. Requests for extension must be submitted to the Department of State for approval.
To meet the evaluation requirement for training programs, sponsors and/or third parties conducting the flight training may use the same training records required by the Federal Aviation Administration to be maintained pursuant to 14 CFR 141.101.
Please refer to the program regulations for specific details about the trainee category, including details regarding the application process for designation of training programs.