Help – my J-1 program is not working out!

When the J program is not as expected…

For many decades, young, talented, highly motivated foreign nationals have come to the U.S. to participate in the J-1 visa program. Most participants have fantastic experiences and the program helps them grow in their professional and personal lives. However, some participants experience difficulties. There are various reasons why J-1 participants may not be completely happy with their experience. Sometimes the first weeks/months may be challenging.  Social adjustment and integration may be difficult. In other cases, the training at the host organization may not be as expected.  Some participants may become frustrated and start thinking about ending the program. They need help. I have found that most issues can be resolved following a few simple steps.

First things first: communicate

Most problems can be resolved by communicating. Look at the issues objectively and determine exactly what is not going right with the program. Where do you need help? Write it out on paper. Next, discuss the issues with your direct manager. If you are not successful finding a resolution with your manager, discuss the issues with the Director of Human Resources. At this point, inform your J-1 visa program sponsor as well. Explain that you have taken the initiative to resolve the issues, but that you may need the sponsor’s help. If needed, ask the program sponsor to step in. Remember that the sponsor and host organization signed a form DS-7002 and everyone has to follow that training rotation.

Transfers are a (rare) option

If the host organization is unable to follow the training rotation as outlined on Form DS-7002, the program sponsor will allow a transfer to another host organization. The sponsor will try to identify a host organization in the same area that offers a program similar to the one at the previous employer. Remember, transfers are fairly rare and a last-resort option.


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