18-month Trainee program at a hotel?!

There seems to be some confusion about the maximum duration of Trainee programs, especially for trainee programs at hotels and restaurants. Section 62.22 (k) of the J-1 visa regulations stipulates that:

  • the maximum duration of a training program is 18 months,
  • the maximum duration of a training program in agriculture and in Hospitality and Tourism is 12 months,
  • the maximum duration of an internship program is 12 months.

So it seems that Trainee programs at hotels or restaurants are limited to 12 months, right? Well, not so fast…

In its Interim Final Rule, published in the Federal Register on June 19, 2007, The Department of State “recognizes there are training programs … in the “Hospitality and Tourism” occupational category that are, in reality, management programs (e.g., hotel or restaurant management, turf grass management). Such management programs may last up to 18 months. The new regulations give the Department the flexibility to classify such programs under the occupational code of Management, Business, Commerce, and Finance…”.

Conclusion: J-1 trainees can participate in 18-month management programs at hotels or restaurants. Keep in mind that the training must indeed be 100% management training. Such training will expose the Trainee to uniquely American methodologies, procedures, processes related to hotel or restaurant management. Examples of skills the Trainee may acquire include: leadership and motivational skill, coaching and counseling, training, performance evaluation skills, financial, analytical, forecasting, reporting, decision-making skills, and planning and execution skills. Training in “line” positions is out of the question. Even programs that start in line or supervisor roles and culminate in management responsibilities are not acceptable. Those programs fall in the Hospitality and Tourism category and are limited to 12 months.

3 Responses to “18-month Trainee program at a hotel?!

  • @Thanseer: to find a US sponsor of the Trainee program, please see this site: http://j1visa.state.gov/participants/how-to-apply/sponsor-search/. Best of luck!

  • Ceasar Ryan Asuncion
    4 years ago

    Greetings of peace and joy!
    I am currently on a J1 HOSPITALITY TRAINEESHIP PROGRAM for 12 months here in Little America Hotel, Salt Lake City (Utah). I would like to ask if it is possible for me to change my program from J1 TRAINING PROGRAM into a J-1 Hospitality Management Training program (up to 18 months for Hospitality)? Or is it possible for me to switch on that certain type of J1 Program as a means of an extension of my J1 VISA? I am hoping for your positive response regarding this matter. Thank you.

    • Check your Form DS-2019. Is your program an Intern or a Trainee program? Intern programs are capped at 12 months. Trainee programs are capped at 12 months in they fall in the Hosp&Tour category. You cannot change from an Intern to a Trainee program.