In the coming weeks, we expect employers to have a very difficult time locating private sector J-1 sponsors to issue new Forms DS-2019 for interns and trainees. In order to apply for a J-1 visa, an individual must secure a valid Form DS-2019 from a qualified program sponsor that meets the requirements of the Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program. An individual must also have a host employer that agrees to provide an internship or training opportunity. J-1 exchange program sponsors are typically nonprofit organizations in the private sector. These sponsors work in close collaboration with employers wishing to host J-1 interns and trainees. Every year, thousands of recent graduates and university students from abroad apply for J-1 visas to gain an experience working briefly in the United States. We may imminently see a cap reached on the number of J-1 visitors admitted for internship and training opportunities for this calendar year.
The shortage of Forms DS-2019 is already an issue for many program sponsors. The Department of State’s Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (“ECA”) controls the annual allotment of Forms DS-2019 issued to program sponsors. This year, ECA gave J-1 sponsors an annual allotment of DS-2019s that equaled the number of J-1 visitors who entered the United States on their programs in 2011. To secure additional Forms DS-2019, program sponsors must apply to ECA with a request to sponsor more interns and trainees. According to our latest information, very few sponsors have been granted an increase in Forms DS-2019 to expand their programs. This is occurring at a time when the economy is improving and U.S. companies are showing a greater interest in hosting interns and trainees from abroad.
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