Practice Advisory

J exchange visitor programs designated in the College and University Student category are automatically allowed to sponsor J-1 exchange visitors in the Student Intern category, without having to apply for separate designation to do so. There is a Student Intern option in the SEVIS RTI Exchange Visitor Category drop-down menu in SEVIS RTI to issue Forms DS-2019 in the Student Intern category. Batch functionality also exists.

Note: A final rule effective July 21, 2008, created the "Student Intern" subcategory under the College and University Student category [73 Fed. Reg. 35066 (June 20, 2008)], but the category could not be used until SEVIS functionality was developed. That functionality was included in SEVIS 6.0, released on February 20, 2009.

Sound easy? Think again! Although the Student Intern category is replete with possibility, it is not simply a "convenient new option." It is a complex new category that shares more in common with the Trainee/Intern category than the Student or Research Scholar categories. Exchange visitor programs should decide to use it only after conducting a thorough business analysis that examines the category's comprehensive regulatory obligations, and the impact that compliance with those obligations will have on their institution's and program's business processes.

The purpose of this page is to review the Student Intern category's regulatory obligations. The lists are adapted from content in the NAFSA Adviser's Manual Online. To see how your colleagues are implementing the Student Intern category in their exchange visitor programs, link to Collegial Conversations on J Student Interns, a resource developed by NAFSA's Knowledge Community for International Student and Scholar Services (KC-ISSS).

What are the basic program sponsor requirements for the Student Intern category?

Prior to issuing a Form DS-2019 to sponsor a student in the J Student Intern category, an exchange visitor program sponsor must:

  • Be an accredited postsecondary academic institution designated in the J College and University Student category. Accept the student into its student internship program.[22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(1)(iii); 22 C.F.R.  62.23(d)]
  • Verify the student's English language ability, "through a sponsor-conducted interview, by a recognized English language test, or by signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(1)(i)]
  • Secure a placement for the intern before issuing the DS-2019. [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(2)(i)]
  • Complete and secure the requisite signatures on Form DS-7002 (T/IPP). [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(7)] The sponsor must then provide an executed copy of the Form DS-7002 to each signatory.
  • Develop procedures for evaluating all student interns. The program sponsor must conduct such evaluations for each Student Intern. All programs must do a concluding evaluation, and programs lasting more than six months must do a midpoint and concluding evaluation. The sponsor must retain these evaluations for at least three years following the completion of the student's internship program. [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(5)]
  • Ensure the student intern has sufficient finances to support self and dependents for the entire stay in the United States. [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(2)(ii)]
  • If the program sponsor is also acting as the host organization where the internship activity will take place, the sponsor itself must satisfy the requirements applied to host organizations.

What are the Basic Eligibility Requirements for the Intern Him or Herself?

To be eligible to participate as a J Student Intern, a participant must meet these conditions:

  • Be currently "enrolled in and pursuing a degree at an accredited postsecondary academic institution outside the United States." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)]
  • The U.S. internship must "fulfill the educational objectives for his or her current degree program at his or her home institution." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)]
  • Have "verifiable English language skills sufficient to function on a day-to-day basis in the internship environment." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(1)(i)]
  • Be "primarily in the United States to engage in a student internship program rather than to engage in employment or provide services to an employer." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)]
  • Be "accepted into a student internship program at the postsecondary accredited academic institution listed on his or her Form DS-2019." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(1)(iii); 22 C.F.R. 62.23(d)]
  • Be "in good academic standing" at his or her home institution outside the United States. [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(1)(iv)]
  • The student must return to his or her academic program outside the United States "and fulfill and obtain a degree from such academic institution after completion of the student internship program." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(1)(v)]
  • Have "sufficient finances to support himself or herself and dependents for their entire stay in the United States, including housing and living expenses." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(2)(ii)]

What are the requirements for the internship activity itself?

The internship activity secured for the participant must conform to these requirements and prohibitions:

  • Student interns may participate in a student internship program for "up to 12 months for each degree/major." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(h)(3)]
  • Internships must be full-time; i.e., consist of a minimum of 32 hours per week. [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(3)(i)(A)]
  • Consist of no more than 20 percent clerical work. [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(8)(iv)]
  • All tasks assigned must be "necessary for the completion of the student internship program." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(8)(iv)]
  • Not displace "American workers" (including full or part-time, temporary or permanent). [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(3)(i)(B)]
  • Not "serve to fill a labor need" [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(3)(ii)(B)]
  • Exist "solely to assist the student intern in achieving the objectives of his or her participation in a student internship program." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(3)(ii)(B)]
  • Consist of "work-based learning," rather than "ordinary employment or unskilled labor." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(7)(i)]
  • If in the field of agriculture, meet all requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(3)(ii)(C)]
  • Expose the participant to "American techniques, methodologies, and technology," expand upon the participant's existing knowledge and skills, and "not duplicate the student intern's prior experience." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(2)(iii)]
  • Not place a student intern in any position that involves the following [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(8)(i)]:
    • Unskilled or casual labor
    • Child care or elder care
    • Aviation
    • "Clinical positions or engaging in any other kind of work that involves patient care or contact, including any work that would require student interns to provide therapy, medication, or other clinical or medical care (e.g., sports or physical therapy, psychological counseling, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, social work, speech therapy, or early childhood education)"
    • Any "position, occupation, or business that could bring the Exchange Visitor Program or the Department into notoriety or disrepute." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(8)(ii)]
  • Not involve in any way a "staffing/employment agency." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(8)(iii)]
  • A student may participate in an internship with or without wages or other compensation. To be employed, however, the student needs the "approval of the exchange program's responsible officer and the student's home institution's dean or academic advisor." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(6)]
  • The internship does not have to be in the student's field of study, but it does have to "fulfill the educational objectives for his or her current degree program at his or her home institution." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)

Can an Exchange Visitor Program Use Third Parties to Manage a Student Intern Program?

A sponsor may use host organizations and other third parties in managing its Student Intern program, but use of third parties creates additional regulatory obligations for the sponsor.

Use of Third Parties in General (Including Host Organizations)

The Subpart A definition of third party, applicable to all exchange visitor categories, is: "an entity cooperating with or assisting the sponsor in the conduct of the sponsor's program. Sponsors are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that third parties know and comply with all applicable provisions of these regulations. Third party actions in the course of providing such assistance or cooperation shall be imputed to the sponsor in evaluating the sponsor's compliance with these regulations." The student intern regulations give some examples of typical third parties, "including, but not limited to a host organization, partner, local business, governmental entity, academic institution, or any other foreign or domestic agent."

If the sponsor engages a third party to assist it in the conduct of the student internship program, the sponsor and the third party must have an "executed written agreement" that outlines "the full relationship between the sponsor and the third party on matters relating to the administration of the exchange visitor program." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(4)]

As in the general Subpart A definition of third party, the student intern regulations also provide that a third party's actions or failure to comply with Department of State regulations or policies will be imputed to the sponsor.

Requirements for Host Organizations

In addition to the obligations it has when dealing with any third party, a program sponsor has special obligations when dealing with host organizations (i.e., the site of the internship). These obligations also apply whether the host organization is a third party or the sponsor itself, if it is acting also as the host organization.

  • The sponsor must "adequately screen all potential host organizations at which a student intern will be placed by obtaining the following information" [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(3)(iii)]
    • The organization's Dun & Bradstreet identification number, unless the host organization is an academic institution, government entity, or family farm
    • The organization's Employer Identification Number (EIN) used for tax purposes
    • Verify the organization's telephone number and address
    • Review the organization's professional activities by examining the organization's advertising, brochures, Web site, and/or feedback from prior participants
    • Verify that the organization has a Workman's Compensation Insurance Policy
  • The sponsor must "Ensure host organizations know the exchange visitor program regulations and objectives and adhere to exchange visitor program regulations and policies. [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(3)(i)(B)]
  • The sponsor must conduct a site visit of the host organization if the organization "has not previously participated successfully in the sponsor's student internship program, has fewer than 25 employees, or has less than three million dollars in annual revenue." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(3)(iv)]
    • Important note: Placements at academic institutions and Federal, State, or local government offices are specifically exempt from this site visit requirement. [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(3)(iv)]
  • The sponsor must ensure that both it and any host organizations acting on its behalf have "sufficient resources, plant, equipment, and trained personnel available to provide the specified student internship program."[22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(3)(ii)(A)]
  • The sponsor must ensure that it or any host organization acting on the sponsor's behalf [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(3)(ii)(B)]:
    • Does not displace "American workers" (without regard to whether the American worker is full- or part-time, temporary, or permanent)
    • Does not use a student intern to "fill a labor need,"
    • Places student interns only in positions that exist "solely to assist the student intern in achieving the objectives of his or her participation in a student internship program."