NAICU Washington Update

New Visa Category for Foreign Student Interns

The State Department has announced a proposed change to its J-1 exchange visitor regulations creating a new subcategory specifically for student interns. Under the proposed change, foreign students enrolled in accredited institutions abroad, or graduates who have completed a program of study within 12 months of starting an exchange, would be eligible for a one-year internship program at a U.S. college or university for each degree earned.

Potential interns under J-1 would have to describe how the internship would enhance their education at their home institutions. While the internships could be paid or unpaid, the regulations would prohibit the sponsoring institutions from placing interns in several types of positions, such as unskilled or casual labor, aviation, child or elder care, and patient care or contact.

International educators are generally pleased with the proposal. They feel the new category, announced in early June, has been long delayed since September 11, and is necessary to more effectively respond to growing interest in international intern programs. The new rule will be effective starting on July 21, 2008.

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