What is the role of a Sponsor in the J-1 visa program?

Almost all U.S. visas are processed by USCIS. However, a few visas – F, M and J – are part of the State Department’s Exchange Visitor Program. For its J program, the State Department designates sponsoring organizations to administer a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program in one or more program categories. A J-1 visa cannot be obtained without use of a sponsoring organization. So what do these sponsors do? What are their responsibilities?

In general terms, sponsors are responsible for the effective administration of their exchange visitor programs. What does this mean? The J-1 visa regulations provide the following list:

• Selection of exchange visitors: sponsors must develop a system to screen and select prospective exchange visitors.
• Pre-arrival information: sponsors must provide exchange visitors with pre-arrival materials.
• Orientation; sponsors must offer orientation for exchange visitors.
• Form DS–2019: sponsors must safeguard form DS-2019.
• Monitoring of exchange visitors: sponsors must develop system through which they can monitor the exchange visitors participating in their programs.
• Insurance: sponsors must ensure that exchange visitors have insurance coverage that meets the requirements of the J-1 visa regulations.

Sponsors are allowed to work with third parties (ie host organizations, partners, local businesses, foreign or domestic agents) to assist them in the conduct of their designated training and internship programs. But, the ultimate responsibility for the program remains with the sponsor. Sponsors bear the burden of regulatory compliance and are subject to annual reporting and audits. The State Department provides a list of all sponsoring organizations here.

2 Responses to “What is the role of a Sponsor in the J-1 visa program?

  • Shahin
    5 years ago

    Dear Mario,

    In June 2012 i completed an J1 internship in Atlanta. This J1 internship was a rotation through all the F&B outlets in the hotel and this internship had the duration of 12 months. When i returned to the Netherlands( home country) i graduated with a degree in hospitality management and i applied for a second J1 visa on a MIT f&B program (traineeship) for 12 months. This program was on higher level and they told me i was legible for this program. The hotel hired me and now I’ve heard that i am not allowed to get a visa because of the new rules? They told me the following: ” Internships are permitted during each degree level without being subject to the 2 year repeat bar. Therefore, if a participant completed an internship in June as part of his degree and graduated, he is not eligible to immediately return to another J-1 internship using that same degree level. He must first enroll in another degree program (i.e. Masters Degree) or wait until eligible for a training program.”

    Does this mean i am not allowed to do this traineeship?


    Shahin kamali

    • Shahin, based on your summary, you are eligible to participate in another Intern program. I wrote a blog post on this subject, see here.