In 2021, the Exchange Visitor Program, also known as BridgeUSA, approved 360 Mexican students or recent graduates to visit the United States to complete an internship program. This makes Mexico the country sending the second greatest number of interns to the U.S. Students or recent graduates seeking an internship in the United States are required to apply for a J-1 visa from Mexico before entering the country. 

 Participation in United States-based internships has risen from 29.9% to 70.5% over the last 30 years. That's because U.S. companies are dedicating more resources to helping students and recent graduates build their networks and expand their professional horizons through internships!

At Intrax Global Internships, we simplify the legalities of applying for a J-1 visa to complete an internship with U.S. companies. So if you're an internship candidate from Mexico looking for advice on navigating the process, you’ve come to the right place! 

In this article, we'll cover the following: 

  • What is the J-1 Visa program?
  • J-1 visa requirements for Mexican nationals
  • How to apply for your J-1 visa¬†

About the J-1 Visa Program

The J-1 visa program is a cultural exchange program that allows individuals from other countries, including Mexico, to come to the United States to gain experience and knowledge in their field of study or profession. The J-1 visa is mutually beneficial, allowing individuals to gain valuable experience and cultural exposure, while bringing diverse perspectives and skills to the United States. 

Administered by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), this program is designed to promote the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and skills in various fields, including education, arts, and sciences. It allows foreign nationals to come to the United States to participate in exchange programs that enable them to learn and work in their fields of interest.

J-1 Visa Categories

Within the J-1 visa program, there are various categories that identify a nonimmigrant visitor's purpose for visiting the United States. For example, there are several education-focused categories of J-1 visas, including:

  1. The J-1 Trainee Visa  for individuals who want to participate in on-the-job training programs in the United States.
  2. The J-1 Internship Visa  for individuals who want to participate in work-based internships in the United States.
  3. The J-1 Summer Work Travel Visa for individuals who want to work and travel in the United States during their summer break from school.
  4. The J-1 Teacher Visa for individuals who want to teach in the United States as part of an exchange program.
  5. The J-1 Professor and Research Scholar Visa for individuals who want to conduct research or teach at a higher education institution in the United States.

These are just a few examples of the various J-1 visa categories. There are many other categories for specific exchange programs, such as camp counselors, physicians, and other professionals. Each has certain requirements and is intended for a specific purpose.

The J-1 visa duration depends on the specific program and category, but it generally ranges from a few weeks to several months or even years. In addition, J-1 visa holders are typically required to return to their home country for two years after their exchange program ends. However, the U.S. government can waive this requirement in certain circumstances. We'll talk more about this as we dig into the requirements for the J-1 visa.  

J-1 Visa Requirements for Interns & Trainees

Before applying for a U.S. J-1 visa from Mexico, interns and trainees must meet various requirements. 

Interns applying for a J-1 visa must participate in a structured internship program in the student's field of study. You must also be enrolled in or have graduated from a foreign accredited postsecondary educational institution within the last 12 months. For example, you may have recently graduated with a degree in hospitality and are pursuing an internship at a top American resort chain. The duration of the visit can range from 3 weeks to 12 months. 

For trainees, you must also prove that you’re participating in a structured training program that is in alignment with your professional field. For example, as an Accountant, you may pursue a training program in the United States to better understand international tax law. In addition, the duration of the visit differs from an internship visa, extending up to 18 months. 

Keep in mind‚Äďinternships and trainees can only participate in programs in the following categories:¬†

  • Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
  • Arts and Culture
  • Construction and building trades
  • Education, social sciences, library science, counseling, and social services
  • Hospitality and tourism
  • Information media and communications
  • Management, business, commerce, and finance
  • Public administration and law
  • The sciences, engineering, architecture, mathematics, and industrial occupations

If your head is spinning, don't worry. Your J-1 visa sponsor can help you find an opportunity in the correct category as well as provide the information you need to meet the requirements. 

Prerequisites for Applying

In addition to a purpose, you'll need to meet some additional criteria. Requirements can vary depending on the specific exchange program and the country of origin. However, standard requirements for a J-1 Visa include the following:

  1. Sponsor Program - You must be sponsored by an approved exchange program,like Intrax Global Internships. This means that you’ve been accepted into a program authorized to sponsor J-1 Visa holders.
  2. Adequate Funding - You must have sufficient financial resources to support yourself in the United States. You may need to show proof of funding‚Äďsuch as a scholarship or sponsor letter‚Äďto cover living expenses and other costs associated with your exchange program. A paid internship is a great way to ensure you'll have adequate funding!
  3. Insurance Coverage - You must have adequate health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay in the United States. This may require that you purchase health insurance through your exchange program or to provide evidence of other coverage.
  4. English Proficiency - You must be proficient in English or plan to become proficient in English before starting the exchange program. This may require that you take an English language proficiency test or to provide evidence of previous English language study.
  5. Valid Passport - You must have a valid passport and other necessary travel documents.
  6. Good Legal Standing - You must prove that you do not have any criminal convictions or other disqualifying factors that would make you ineligible for a Visa.

If you are interested in applying for a J-1 visa from Mexico, you can start by contacting a sponsor organization in the United States that is approved by the ECA to participate in the J-1 exchange visitor program. The sponsor organization can help you determine if you are eligible for a J-1 visa, help you search for an internship, and assist you with the J-1 visa application process.

Consider the 2-Year Residency Rule 

The J-1 visa 2-year rule is a requirement for certain individuals who have received a J-1 visa to participate in an exchange program in the United States. As outlined in section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, J visa holders cannot change Visa status, cannot become lawful permanent residents, and cannot receive H, L, or K-category Visas until they either:

  • Return to their home country or last country of permanent residence for 2 cumulative years, or
  • Receive a J-1 visa waiver for this requirement

The rule applies to J-1 visa holders who are subject to the rule of their home country, or who have received funding from the United States government or their home government to participate in their exchange program.

Individuals subject to the 2-year residency rule can obtain a waiver of the requirement if they can demonstrate that returning to their home country would cause them undue hardship or if they can get a no-objection statement from their home government. However, obtaining a waiver can be difficult and time-consuming, so it is essential for individuals to be aware of the 2-year residency rule and to plan accordingly.

How to Apply for a J-1 Visa

Applying for a J-1 Visa can be daunting, especially if you need help figuring out where to begin. The process involves several steps, such as:

  1.  Finding a trustworthy sponsor
  2. Submitting all necessary documents 
  3. Allowing sufficient time for the application to be processed before your planned trip to the United States from Mexico 

With so many components to consider, it is important to carefully plan and manage the J-1 visa application process to ensure a smooth and successful outcome.

Suppose you have secured an internship or training position in the United States. In that case, you are in an excellent position to benefit from the opportunity to build connections and acquire valuable skills in an American work setting. As a recognized sponsor of the J-1 visa, we can provide you with the DS-2019 form. This is the primary document needed to apply for a J-1 visa at your embassy or consulate. 

Otherwise, let us walk you through the process of applying for your J-1 Visa, starting with finding an internship and sponsor! 

Find a J-1 Internship & Sponsor

To apply for a J-1 visa, individuals from Mexico will first need to find a suitable sponsor for their exchange program. Many organizations can act as sponsors, including schools, research institutions, and other organizations approved by the U.S. government. Sponsors can help with the J-1 Visa application process and provide support during the exchange program.

It is important to note that finding a J-1 Visa internship and a sponsor can take time, so it is a good idea to start your search early. 

There are several ways to find a J-1 Visa internship and sponsor:

  1. Search online: You can search online for J-1 Visa internships and sponsor programs. You can also use online job search websites to find internships and training opportunities in the United States that are open to J-1 Visa holders.
  2. Contact a study abroad or exchange organization: Organizations like Intrax Global Internships can help you find a J-1 Visa internship. These organizations often have relationships with businesses and organizations willing to host J-1 Visa holders for internships or training positions.
  3. Contact a professional association or organization in your field: Many professional associations and organizations have relationships with businesses and organizations willing to hostJ-1 Visa holders for internships or training positions. 
  4. Ask your university or school: Your university or school may have relationships with businesses and organizations that are willing to host J-1 Visa holders for internships or training positions. You can also check with your school's career center or study abroad office for more information.

Here's a quick tip: If you're unsure how to get an internship, we're here to help! If you want to find a paid internship, we can connect you with top U.S.-based companies ready to hire promising international interns. 

By choosing Intrax as your J-1 visa sponsor, you can take advantage of our extensive experience in the cultural exchange industry and our strong connections with the U.S. Department of State and embassies worldwide. We stay up-to-date on all J-1 visa regulations and policies, and are happy to share our knowledge and expertise with you. We'll ensure that you are as well-informed and prepared as possible for your Visa interview. 

We also offer a breadth of resources to help you plan your visit, including: 

With Intrax as your sponsor, you can trust that you will receive top-quality support throughout the J-1 visa process. 

Prepare Documents & Pay Fees 

Once an applicant has found a sponsor, they will need to complete the DS-2019 form. This form is prepared by  the sponsor, and it will need to be submitted to the Embassy along with other required documents, including:

  • A valid passport
  • A 2x2 digital image or photograph in color taken within the last 6 months¬†
  • A DS-160 form
  • A DS-7002 form
  • Visa application payment fee receipt

Schedule and Complete J-1 Visa Interview

After receiving the DS-2019 form and gathering all required documents, applicants will need to schedule an interview at a U.S. Embassy or consulate in Mexico. 

During the interview, applicants will need to demonstrate that they meet the requirements for the J-1 visa and that they have a clear purpose for their exchange program. They may also need to provide additional information or documents, such as proof of English proficiency or evidence of their qualifications in their field of study or profession.  

Here are some things to know about the J-1 visa interview and questions:

  1. The J-1 visa interview is typically in-person at a U.S. embassy or consulate. 
  2. The J-1 visa interview is conducted in English. 
  3. The J-1 visa interview is an opportunity for the consular officer to learn more about the individual's exchange program and assess their eligibility for a J-1 Visa. The consular officer will ask questions about the individual's background, their plans for the exchange program, and their ability to support themselves financially while in the United States.
  4. The J-1 visa interview is an opportunity for the individual to ask questions and clarify any concerns about the exchange program or the J-1 Visa process. It is important for the individual to be prepared and to provide complete and accurate information during the interview.

The J-1 Visa interview is a crucial step in obtaining a J-1 visa. It is important for individuals to take the interview seriously and to be prepared to provide the necessary information and documentation to demonstrate their eligibility for a J-1 visa.

Special Details for Mexico 

Mexicans applying for the J-1 visa need to meet the same general requirements as other applicants but may need to be aware of additional considerations. It is essential for applicants to research the requirements carefully and to plan ahead to ensure a smooth and successful J-1 Visa application process.

If you're looking for a nearby embassy or consulate to schedule your interview, look no further! 

Once you have completed your interview and your J-1 visa has been approved, applicants can travel to the United States to begin their exchange program.

Get Help from Intrax Global Internships

The J-1 visa program offers a unique opportunity for individuals from Mexico to come to the United States to gain experience and knowledge in their field of study or profession. By finding a sponsor and completing the necessary application steps, including the DS-2019 form and an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate, individuals can begin their internship or training program in the United States.

Let us be your guide to getting a J-1 visa! Still have questions? Read our FAQ or request information. 

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Dec 28, 2022

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