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Application Guide

Cultural Exchange BridgeUSA
Internship and Training Program

​Hello and welcome to AJ1’s cultural exchange program.  AJ1 will be your visa sponsor; this means we are designated by the U.S. State Department to issue DS Form 2019, the document necessary for you to apply for a J-1 visa.  As your J-1 visa sponsor we will assist and guide you throughout the program.  We are also responsible to monitor your program while you are in the U.S.  

 

What is the J-1 Visa?

The J1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa, which allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. to participate in exchange programs to promote the sharing of culture, knowledge and skills. The Internship and Trainee programs are designed to allow foreign college and university students, recent graduates and professionals to come to the United States to gain exposure to U.S. culture and to receive hands-on experience and training in U.S. business practices.  For more information, visit the Exchange Visitor Program website.

Eligibility Requirements

General eligibility requirements are as follows:

Interns

  • Be at least 18 years old

  • Be enrolled in a Hospitality related degree (i.e Hospitality Management, Hotel Management, Restaurant Management, Catering Technology, Culinary Arts Management, OR has graduated in the past 12 months

  • The course leads to a degree or professional diploma 

  • The course has a minimum length of 2 years 

  • The course is accredited by the government of your country

  • Have the English skills necessary to operate in an American workplace

Trainees

  • Be at least 18 years old 

  • You must have a degree or professional certificate from a college, university or other post-secondary academic institution outside the U.S. (as outlined above) and at least one year of related professional experience from outside the U.S. OR have at least 5 years professional experience from outside the U.S.

  • Training program must be related to your non-U.S. professional work experience.

  • Have the English skills necessary to operate in an American workplace

Note, regulations require all candidates to have sufficient financial funds upon entering the United States to cover travel, living and miscellaneous expenses.
 

Program Fees

Included in the Program Fee 

  •  J-1 Visa Sponsorship, required insurance for program dates on DS 2019 form, Issuance of DS-2019 Form and acceptance materials.

  • Online orientation, life in the U.S. resources, continuous program support, monitoring and monthly online check-ins.  Participant agrees to check emails at least once every other day and respond to all messages from AJ1.

  • Access to online participant portal and network.  

Not included in the Program Fee

  • Insurance for dates in the U.S. outside of the dates in program as denoted on DS-2019 form.  Participant is responsible to purchase insurance for any dates arrived before program and dates after program including 30-day grace period. Participant my purchase through their own insurance provider or select to purchase insurance through International Student Insurance (Approx. $1.88/day) 

  • Visa Application Fee paid directly to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  This nonrefundable fee is set by the U.S. government and subject to change. 

  • SEVIS Fee paid directly to the Department of Homeland Security (nonrefundable) and subject to change. 

  • Round-trip airfare (est. $700-$1500) 

  • Transportation to/from the airport to your host city 

  • Housing and Transportation in the U.S. 

  • Meals, Entertainment, and/or other personal expenses 

  • Medical expenses not covered by your accident & sickness insurance plan 

  • Miscellaneous fees applying to some participants (see below) 

How to Apply

Step 1 – Create AJ1 File

  • Create your AJ1 file by completing the application at:  American Journey Cultural Exchange.

  • If AJ1 will be finding you a host property, please select Full Placement.  If you already have a host property/placement, select Self Placement Intern, Training Program

  • Make certain you enter how you heard about us.  If you already have a placement, please enter the host employer name under “how did you hear about us".           

  • Section 2, 3 and 4.  Answer all questions completely and at the end of each section select Save & Continue.  The answers to these questions will create a resume for you that we will use to send to host properties.

  • Once your application is accepted by AJ1, you will receive an email with your login details. At this time, you can begin to check your status and upload your documents (the documents needed and instructions are provided when you login to your account).

 

Step 2 – Complete AJ1 Interview

  • You will receive an email from AJ1 with a date and time to complete a skype video interview with our AJ1 team. Similar to an employment interview, an AJ1 representative will meet with you on Skype video to confirm you meet the requirements of the visa.

 

Step 3 – Collect Program Fee Deposit

  • If required, you will receive an email requesting the program fee deposit. This fee is 100% refundable if we do not secure a placement for you.  It is not an additional fee; the deposit is applied towards your program fee.

 

Step 4 – Login and Upload Documents

  • As outlined above you can begin uploading documents once your application is accepted.  Please be sure to check your email AND login to your AJ1 account regularly to check your status and complete required items. To log in:

  • To Log in to your Account:
    1) Go to: American Journey Cultural Exchange Portal
    2) Enter your e-mail
    3) Enter your password

 

Step 5 – AJ1 Begins Presenting Your Resume to Host Properties

  •  If you already have a placement, this step and the next do not apply.

 

Step 6 – Congratulations, a host employer offers an internship opportunity

 

Step 7 – Orientation, AJ1 Agreement, TIPP

  • After ALL eligibility documents are uploaded and verified, you will receive:

  • AJ1 agreement, signed electronically via Right Signature

  • TIPP (Training Internship Placement Plan) signed electronically via Right Signature

  • Instructions to complete the mandatory AJ1 Online Pre-Arrival Orientation

  • An invoice for the remaining program fees will be sent.

 

Step 8 – DS 2019 Kit

  • DS-2019 kit is READY. Once we receive all required documents, your online orientation is complete, program fees and insurance fees are received, your DS Kit will be made available in your online account in approximately 7 -10 business days.    This is the form you will need to pay your SEVIS fee and book your Embassy appointment to apply for the J-1 visa.  You will receive an email confirmation from AJ1 with your SEVIS ID, Program Number, and DS Kit information.  

 

Step 9 – SEVIS, Apply for J-1 Visa

  • Pay the SEVIS Fee

  • To learn more about SEVIS, visit https://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901

  • To Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee:  fmjfee.com

  • Schedule your appointment with the Embassy/Consulate

  • Find the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest to your residence that issues J-1 Visas.

  • Complete the DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application.

  • Follow your consulate or embassy’s online instructions for making a nonimmigrant visa appointment.

  • Prepare for your interview by reading “U.S. Embassy/Consulate Interview Tips” in the Resources Library and collecting the required documents for your interview. Be sure to check your local embassy or consulate’s website, as requirements may vary from country to country.

  • Attend your interview and receive your visa.

 

Step 10 – Keep AJ1 Updated on your Embassy Appointment, Visa Approval and Arrival to the U.S.

      To Log in to your Account:

       1) Go to: American Journey Application Login

         2) Enter your e-mail

         3) Enter your password

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Documents Must I Submit?

  • Your AJ1 account details the documents needed and provides the necessary forms.  Login to your AJ1 account regularly to check your status and complete required items. 

  • To Log in to your Account:
    1) Go to: American Journey Cultural Exchange
    2) Enter your e-mail
    3) Enter your password

     

How do I pay the program and insurance fees?

  • To make a payment to AJ1, please visit:   AJ1 Payment 

  • Beware of imposter scams!  AJ1 or any other US government agency will never seek payment or documents from you through a messaging app or over the telephone.  Any suspicious activity contact AJ1 directly.  Please be aware of the warning signs of imposter scams.

  • A person telling you not to tell anyone

  • Person demanding payment or personal information immediately though a messaging app or over the telephone.

  • Person asking for payment in form of a gift card

  • Threats of deportation from the U.S.

  • Unofficial Email Address – all emails from AJ1 will end with @AJ1.US  Anyone claiming to be AJ1 from a free email service provider, such as @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, or @usa.com, is a scammer!

 

Any questions?   Contact Accounting@AJ1.US

Insurance:   When do I pay for the insurance?   

  • Insurance is included in your program fees for the dates on your DS 2019

  • When Will I Receive the Insurance Information?  AJ1 will purchase and send the insurance ID card and other information when you notify us that your visa has been approved. 

What are My Start Date and End Date for Insurance?

  • Travel medical insurance start and end dates must match the start date on your Training Internship Placement Plan and DS2019.   Upon visa approval, we will reconfirm the dates with the host property and participant before purchasing.  

  • Please Note:  Insurance for dates in the U.S. outside of the dates in program as denoted on DS-2019 form.  Participant is responsible to purchase insurance for any dates arrived before program and dates after program including 30-day grace period. Participant my purchase through their own insurance provider or select to purchase insurance through International Student Insurance (Approx. $1.88/day price varies by age).

I have my own insurance; can I use it?

  • No, it is necessary you have a policy in place that meets the J-1 regulatory requirements. AJ1 has fully vetted the approved insurance provider above to meet these requirements

 

SEVIS:  What is SEVIS?

  • SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, a computerized system that manages data about international students and exchange visitors in the U.S. It tells the U.S. Government where you live, where you work and your legal status on the J-1 Program.

  • Before you apply for the J-1 Visa at the Embassy/Consulate, you must pay the SEVIS fee, which is paid to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to cover the SEVIS administration costs.

  • The fee is non-refundable. As an exchange visitor, you are required to pay the SEVIS fee. However, if you are bringing any dependents, they do not have to pay a SEVIS fee.

  • If you do not pay the SEVIS fee before your Embassy/Consulate appointment, you will not be granted a J-1 Visa.

When do I purchase SEVIS?

  • Once AJ1 has received all required documents, payments agreements, etc., AJ1 will notify you your DS-2019 form – Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 Status is available for download in your account . Upon receipt of your DS-2019 Form you can purchase SEVIS.

How do I purchase SEVIS?

  • Once you have your DS-2019 form (you will also want to have your passport handy) go to: https://fmjfee.com/

  • Select Submit Form 1-901 and Fee payment

  • Select Form DS-2019

 

2nd job

  • While participating in the J1 Cultural Exchange visa program, you are not able to have a 2nd job.

 

Change of Host Property

  • As you are aware, you are expected to remain at the original host you selected and accepted.  AJ1 maintains a no transfer policy.  Only in rare and extenuating circumstances is a transfer/change of host organization permitted, if you feel you must change your host, you must contact AJ1immediately to discuss.  

Can I Travel Internationally During my Program?

  • If you wish to travel internationally during your program, contact AHA three weeks prior to complete the travel policy.  AJ1 will make certain:

  • You have received permission from your host property to take time off during your program.

  • You have a valid, unexpired passport.

  • Your J-1 Visa is marked with an "M" under "Entries" in your passport. This means you are allowed multiple entries to the U.S.

  • Your J-1 Visa is not expired – due to expiration dates.  

  • Your DS-2019 Form is still valid.

 

Useful Links

  • AJ1 Website:    AJ1

 

Sample Budget

Below is a sample budget for what an intern can expect to pay in a typical month during the program (sharing 2 bedroom apartment with 4 people, not owning a car).  Your actual cost of living will depend on many factors including location, length of apartment lease, season and number of people you are living with.   Please also keep in mind that your first month may cost more than this since there are costs associated with any move and getting set-up.  

Housing (rent, utilities and cable/internet)                                             $580

Transportation (taxis, Uber, Lyft, public transportation)                       $ 50

Food (groceries and restaurants)                                                              $200

Other Entertainment                                                                                   $150

Phone                                                                                                             $ 50

Supplies (cleaning, laundry, decorations, kitchen)                                  $ 50

Miscellaneous (unplanned expenses)                                                     $100

Estimated Total (may vary)                                                                        $1200/month

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