Exchange Tips: Extending Your J-1 Visa Program

Has your time in the United States as an intern or trainee flown by?  Or, are you a host company who knows your J-1 participant could learn much more with just a bit more time on a certain project? You’re in luck.

If your internship or training experience has proved fruitful and would benefit from some additional time, your program may be eligible for an extension – and the Train USA team at Cultural Vistas can help you to explore that possibility!

We offer a window into the world of working in the U.S. regardless of whether you come see the view from the windows of our office.

Why Extend a Program?

An extension of the J-1 Visa can be a great option for both individuals and hosts.  An intern or trainee can gain new skills or go deeper into more advance training while continuing to exchange knowledge, ideas, and best practices with American staff.

You may want to consider an extension if an individual:

It’s important to remember, however, that an extension cannot be used simply to allow J-1 visa holders additional time to travel in the United States, or to repeat previous training activities.

We can’t prove it, but we suspect that nobody takes more pictures of vistas featuring American flags than J-1 interns and trainees.

How long can extensions last for?

Participants in the J-1 Intern category are eligible to train in the U.S. for up to 12 consecutive months, while those on the J-1 trainee visa can train for up to 18 months. If the original program dates don’t yet cover this maximum duration, you can apply to extend for the remainder of that time. This means you can extend your J-1 program by days, weeks, or even months!

For example:

It’s important to note, however, that there may not be any gap in time between the original program and extended period. Programs within the fields of hospitality, tourism, and agriculture are limited to 12 months.

This picture would not have been possible without a J-1 visa extension.

How do I apply for an extension?

Like any updates to a training program, an extension must be approved by one’s sponsoring organization (Cultural Vistas). There is a simple application process and you should reach out to your primary program contact to request a copy of our extension application, or email us.

Once your application form is complete, demonstrating an advancement of training activities, goals, and skills, the extension application fees are paid, and and the midterm evaluations are submitted, your application is then ready to be reviewed.

Once your application and all supporting components are received, we will evaluate all material, and upon approval, will generate an updated DS-7002 Training Plan to cover the remainder of the program.

Think about how many more vistas you can see in the U.S. with a program extension…

The participant and the phase supervisor will sign this updated form, at which time Cultural Vistas will issue an updated DS-2019, the official document needed for the participant to legally train in the U.S. for the extended program dates.

This approval process takes approximately 2 weeks. It’s important to remember that the DS-2019 must be issued before the original program end date. In the event that an extension is denied, your original program end date is not affected.

Upon the completion of the program, based on the end date listed on the most up-to-date DS-2019, the participant has a grace period of 30 days to depart the United States.

How much does it cost to extend my U.S. exchange program?

Extensions incur an administrative fee to cover the additional evaluative services, updates and re-issuance of updated documents, document shipping, and additional in-country services over the duration of the extension.

The new fee also includes the cost of additional health insurance coverage. As the fee will vary based on the length of the extension, please review our full list of costs and refund policy on our website. We encourage you to submit your extension application early!

How does an extension impact the visa stamp my passport?

Extensions do not require J-1 Visa holders to obtain a new visa. It is the new DS-2019 that legally permits an individual to remain in the United States and train.

If a participant decides to travel internationally during their extension, however, they will need to check the expiration date listed on the visa in their passport, as one cannot enter the U.S. without a valid visa. If the visa has expired, they will need to visit a U.S. consulate while overseas to obtain a new visa prior to re-entering the United States.

Not wanting to miss J Day is just another great reason to extend your J-1 visa!

We know this may be a lot to unpack, and that the process and paper work can feel overwhelming at times. But we are here to help.

If you have any further questions, you can email us anytime.