How do I apply for a J-1 visa?
If you are accepted to the Korea WEST Program, Cultural Vistas will provide you with all the necessary documentation you will need to apply for a visa to the United States. As a J-1 visa sponsor designated by the Department of State, Cultural Vistas will issue the necessary forms (DS-2019 and DS-7002) for your in-person visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Korea. Cultural Vistas and GISC will provide detailed instructions upon your acceptance to the program.
How long can I stay in the United States? Can I extend my program?
As a Korea WEST participant, you receive a J-1 Visa that allows you to stay in the United States for up to 18 months. It is not possible to extend your visa past the 18 months originally assigned to you. There are no exceptions. The J-1 Visa is a cultural exchange and training visa, and the goal of the Korea WEST program is for you to gain skills in the United States that you can take home to Korea to contribute to the growth of your nation.
The U.S. government grants participants special permission to enter the United States as official guests sponsored by the Korean government, and it is important for the sake of diplomatic relations between our two nations that you graciously honor the terms of your visa arrangement.
Can I return to the United States for another training program after my program ends?
Korea WEST participants are subject to a “two-year rule” because they have entered the United States on a J-1 Visa through the sponsorship of their own government. Under this rule, participants are not be eligible to return for another training or work Visa until they have spent two full years out of the United States. This is intended to reinforce the understanding that J-1 exchange programs are meant for participants to return to their home country with improved skills and experience.
During the two-year period after your Korea WEST program, you may return to the United States anytime for tourism; if you become an international student or exchange student of a U.S. university, you may also enter the US through the university’s sponsorship. If you wish to enter the United States on a training or work visa before the end of the two year period, you must apply to the U.S. government for a waiver.
Will I receive a refund if I choose not to participate in the program?
For complete details on the refund policy, please reference the Korea WEST application.
How many internship offers will I receive?
Our obligation to you as your Korea WEST sponsor is to find you one suitable offer that fits the following qualifications:
Can I change my internship or have more than one?
If you and your supervisor agree to change the details of your internship (dates, duties, pay, supervisor, etc.) you and your supervisor must inform Cultural Vistas so that a new internship training plan can be signed. Cultural Vistas will always encourage you to find ways to succeed in your internship if you are having problems, and we will always place a top priority on your safety and well-being. Our team is highly-skilled in workplace conflict resolution techniques, and we will gladly advise you on how to work with your supervisor to improve your internship if you are having difficulties.
After you finish your internship obligations, if you still have several months remaining on your J-1 visa, you may independently search for another internship. Cultural Vistas will be unable to assist you with your search. After you successfully receive a new internship offer, please contact Cultural Vistas before you begin working. We will need to speak with your future supervisor to verify the appropriateness of the internship. You will have 30 days after the end successfully completing your previous internship to begin your new internship. If you do not begin a new internship within 30 days, you must return to Korea and end your WEST program.
What paperwork do I need to begin my internship?
Cultural Vistas will coordinate with your new Host Employer to create a DS-7002 form (internship/training plan). After the host employer completes and signs the DS-7002, Cultural Vistas will send participants the form, which must be signed and returned to be approved. A new DS-2019 (work eligibility document) is then created and mailed along with the DS-7002 to your employer’s office for you to pick up when you arrive for your internship. Digital copies will also be provided to participants.
How do I apply for the Korean government stipend?
If you qualify to receive the unpaid internship stipend, you should apply by sending your new DS-7002 (signed by your employer, yourself, and by Cultural Vistas) to your GISC representative. Cultural Vistas will then e-mail your DS-7002 to you to be sent to GISC. Cultural Vistas does not participate in the decision-making process for granting the unpaid internship stipend. If your unpaid internship stipend request is denied by GISC and you feel that you should qualify for the stipend, please let us know and we will advise you on how to proceed.
Can I cancel my English classes early to begin my internship? Can I get a tuition refund?
The English language training program is essential to the success of the Korea WEST program. Cultural Vistas has ensured that our language school partners provide first-rate instruction and service to our participants, and we expect that all WEST participants will take full advantage of this excellent learning opportunity by completing the entire four months of language training.
In cases where the participant has agreed to accept an internship requiring a start date that is earlier than the last day of language training, the WEST participant may cancel their remaining English classes. Each language school has its own refund policy for Korea WEST students. This information will be covered during the U.S. orientation.
Before leaving the language school, all participants must complete a language school evaluation form. Please note that you cannot withdraw from your English language program for any other reason than to begin your WEST internship.
How will I find housing? What about airport pick-up?
During the language training portion of the Korea WEST program, Cultural Vistas works with its program partners to recommend and provide participants with resources regarding suitable housing options, including information on accommodations at nearby universities or home stays with U.S. host families. Participants should secure housing only for the language training portion because internship locations vary.
Participants are responsible for finding their own housing during the internship portion of the program. Cultural Vistas staff will provide assistance and resources to help with your housing search. In some cases, host employers may also provide assistance.
If you attend the language programs in San Diego or Washington, D.C., you may request airport pick-up service from the language school for a fee. Airport pick-up service is not available for New York participants.
Do I need to tell Cultural Vistas if I move to new housing or change my contact information?
Yes, you must inform Cultural Vistas as soon as possible anytime you change any of your contact information. According to U.S. Department of State regulations, Cultural Vistas must always have your current contact information in our records. Please tell us your new address, phone number, and e-mail address anytime you change your information. This is extremely important, especially if we need to contact you in the event of an emergency.
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