Which positions can J-1s NOT hold?

On-the-job training program

The Intern and Trainee categories of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program allow qualified foreign nationals to receive on-the-job training at U.S. host organizations. The main objective of the program is for the foreign national to enhance skills and expertise in their academic or occupational field and to improve knowledge of American techniques, methodologies, and technology. The programs cannot be used for ordinary employment or work purposes and they cannot displace American workers.

Which position can J-1s hold?

J-1 visa Interns and Trainees can train in virtually any position or role, as long as they are bona fide training positions. This means that sufficient resources must be made available to train the J-1s. Think training manuals, equipment, and qualified training and support staff. There are important exclusions; there are certain positions or fields in which J-1 are not allowed to train.

What can J-1 NOT do?
  • Under no circumstances can J-1 Interns and Trainees be placed in “unskilled or casual labor positions”. For the purpose of the J-1 visa regulations, unskilled or casual labor positions include positions such as Bartenders, Bookkeepers, Cashiers, Cleaners, Hotel and Motel Cleaners, Hotel and Motel Clerks, General Clerk, Typist, Cooks Short Order, Dining Room Attendants, Groundskeepers, Floor-workers, Helpers in any Industry, Housekeepers, Janitors, Kitchen Workers, Laborers, Common Porters and Receptionists (the full list can be found here).
  • J-1s can also not be placed in positions that require or involve child care or elder care, or in clinical or any other kind of work that involves patient care or contact. These include positions in which trainees or interns would provide therapy, medication, or other clinical or medical care.
  • Finally, trainees or interns cannot train in positions that involve more than 20 percent clerical work.

The J-1 visa sponsor you work with will be able to help determine exactly what training is appropriate for your company and will be able to share best-practices.

6 Responses to “Which positions can J-1s NOT hold?

  • Nice and very useful article. Do you maybe know how often (if ever) the J1 Visa students get opportunity to work (full time) at one company after they finish their J1 program?
    Thank you!

    With regards,


    • Hello Ziga, all J-1 visa program participants are required to return to their home country upon completion of their program.

  • Michelle
    5 years ago

    Greetings! My question involves the Skills List for the J visa. Do you know if Hong Kong and Taiwan fall under the China Skills List? I ask becuase if a country is not listed, then those citizens are not subject to a skills list. However, it is difficult to know if HK and Taiwan are not listed becuase they do not have restrictions or if they are subsumed by China’s Skills List. Thank you.

    • Hi Michelle, good question! I would direct your question to the U.S. Department of State. Good luck.

  • Arnaud
    5 years ago

    Hello Mario, my question is iam on a j1 visa in hospitality and am looking to make my wife come on a j2 with me. How does this work out?

    • Arnoud, simply contact your J-1 visa program sponsor. They will be able to issue a Form DS-2019 for your dependent spouse. With the form, she can apply for a J-2 visa at the U.S. consulate in her home country.