J-1 Host Companies and Participants have begun receiving notices from the U.S. Department of State announcing that they are planning a visit. They state that "The purpose of these visits is to give officials a first-hand perspective on how the Exchange Visitor Program operates".
The J-1 exchange visitor visa is intended to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) oversees and approves Exchange Visitor Programs to administer J-1 exchange visas for au pairs; camp counselors; college, university or secondary students; government or "international" visitors; physicians; professors; research or short-term scholars; specialists; summer work or travel visitors; specialists; teachers; and trainees/interns.
The notices ask participants to be ready to discuss both how they are learning about American culture (including whether their employer facilitates outings and dinners with company staff), as well as the new skills they are learning (for trainees/interns, in accordance with their DS-7002) and their rationale for participating in the program.
We have seen increased scrutiny of the validity of employment under the J-1 exchange visitor visas in the private sector, therefore participants and their employers need to be ready to satisfactorily answer the types of questions the DOS will be asking. Our attorneys include former DOS and DHS officers as well as renowned experts in J-1 visas and program compliance who can assist employers and host companies as they review their programs and prepare to respond to DOS inquiries.