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BridgeUSA (EVP)

Last modified on Apr 26, 2023

1 BridgeUSA (EVP)

The BridgeUSA (J-1 Visa) Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) offers non-immigrant visas to foreign nationals for cultural and educational programs in the United States.

Established in 1961, the EVP aims to promote mutual understanding between Americans and people from other countries through educational and cultural exchanges. It also strengthens international ties, fosters global awareness, and promotes friendly and peaceful relationships between the United States and other nations.

Other names. The Exchange Visitor Program (EVP), also referred to as “BridgeUSA” and “J-1 visa,” is a cultural exchange program governed by 22 CFR Part 62 and administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) within the US Department of State.

General knowledge. The program includes 15 categories, such as internships, trainee programs, university and college programs, summer work and travel, au pair programs, and more. It collaborates with 1,500 sponsors from academic, government, private, and non-profit sectors across the United States.

Statistics. Today, the EVP provides educational and cultural exchange opportunities to around 300,000 visitors from 200 countries and territories who come to the United States each year.

To download the welcome brochure and learn more about the EVP, click HERE. Click HERE to download the pamphlet on work-based exchange visitor rights.

2 Involved Parties

The following key entities involved or associated with the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) include:

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). This is a division within the U.S. Department of State that administers and oversees the Exchange Visitor Program.

Designated sponsors. These are private or public entities designated by the ECA to administer and sponsor exchange visitor programs. They are responsible for screening and selecting participants, providing support and guidance throughout the program, and ensuring compliance with program regulations. Each sponsor has a Responsible Officer (RO) and one or more Alternate Responsible Officers (ARO) who provide guidance and support to exchange visitors.

NOTE: FUSIA is a designated sponsor in the J-1 intern category. Non-US schools interested in collaborating with their US counterparts, US entities looking to host J-1 interns, and both foreign and domestic entities seeking partnerships can contact us for further information.

Exchange visitors, or J visa holders. They are foreign nationals approved to participate in one of the exchange visitor program types through a program sponsor. They come to the United States for educational and cultural exchange programs in various categories, such as internships, trainee programs, university and college programs, summer work and travel, au pair programs, and more. Some exchange visitors are accompanied by spouses and unmarried children under 21, called dependents under J-2 visas.

Hosts. In certain program categories such as interns and trainees, sponsors collaborate with third-party hosts, which can be companies or organizations, to facilitate the implementation of the programs. The hosts provide the exchange visitors with opportunities for practical training, internships, or other specified activities. Hosts may assign a Main Program Supervisor (POC/MPS) and one or more Primary Phase Supervisors (PPS) to oversee and guide the participants during their program.

Other third parties. Program sponsors may also collaborate with domestic and foreign entities to facilitate the implementation of eligible participants and hosts in their exchange programs. Such collaboration necessitates a written agreement that outlines the responsibilities and obligations of each party involved. Collaboration with staffing or employment agencies is not allowed under 22 CFR 62.22(j)(3). However, it is important to note that partnering with staffing or employment agencies is not allowed under the regulations governing the Exchange Visitor Program (22 CFR 62.22(j)(3)).

Government agencies. The Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) involves various US government agencies that play distinct roles depending on the specific program category and nature of the exchange. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) within the US Department of State administers and oversees the EVP, while the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through agencies like US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is involved in visa processing, immigration matters, and entry inspections. The Department of Labor (DOL) regulates certain work-based exchange programs, and US embassies and consulates facilitate visa applications and provide support to participants and sponsors.

Watching Broadway show Wicked (2018)
3 Exchange Visitors

Exchange visitors (“also called “J-1 visa holders”) are foreign nationals who participate in the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) that allows them to temporarily reside in the United States for educational and cultural exchange purposes.

Benefits. During programs, exchange visitors acquire valuable work experience, exposure to American culture, and opportunities to develop new skills and knowledge. They also participate in cultural exchange activities to gain experience and broaden their horizons, while making American friends, improving their English, and more. Upon completion, they return home as goodwill ambassadors, fostering cross-cultural understanding and strengthening relationships between their home countries and the US.

Qualifications. The EVP offers various program types that require sponsorship from a designated sponsor. To participate,applicants must first select a suitable program type, identify an authorized sponsor, and meet program requirements which may vary depending on the sponsor and program type.

• Being a foreign national
• Possessing a valid passport or travel document from their home country
• Having nonimmigrant intent
• Possessing sufficient English skills for their program
• Having health insurance coverage that meets the minimum requirements
• Having no known history that may jeopardize their entry to the US
• Abiding by all program regulations and requirements, as well as US federal and state laws

4 Host Organizations

Hosts (also called “host companies” or “host organizations”) are third-party US-based entities that implement exchange visitor program(s) through a written agreement with the designated sponsor.

Benefits. The EVP provides global opportunities and adds tremendous value. Through participation, hosts benefit immensely from access to diverse perspectives, enhanced creativity and innovation, momentum in the workplace, and meaningful experiences. Other benefits include access to diverse perspectives, stimulation of innovation and momentum, and global connections, among others.

How it works. Some exchange programs, such as internships and traineeships, are implemented by hosts. Sponsors can either act as the host or collaborate with eligible US-based hosts to implement the exchange programs. Additionally, there are two types of programs:

• Self-placed: Participants contact the sponsor after receiving an offer from a host they found
• Fully-placed: Such as CCIP summer in NYC, the host placement is attached to the program

Qualifications. Companies or organizations hosting J-1 interns or trainees are required to meet certain requirements, and these requirements may vary depending on the sponsor. Here are some general rules:

• Having been established for at least one year
• Maintaining valid workers’ compensation insurance, unless exempted by state law
• Being a registered US-based entity with a valid EIN
• Having two or more full-time staff on site
• Assigning a main program contact who is a staff member to handle administrative matters
• Assigning one or more staff supervisors with expertise in the participant’s training field
• Providing onsite continuous supervision by the assigned supervisor(s)
• Providing a physical location with sufficient staff and resources to conduct the training
• No staffing employment agencies or companies specializing in temporary or seasonal work
• No intention to use the program to replace American workers
• No intention to hire participants and offer them an H-1 or other type of visa
• Ensuring compliance with all labor laws and regulations
• No participants can be placed in positions, occupations, or businesses that could bring the program and/or involved parties into notoriety or disrepute

5 Designated Sponsors

Designated program sponsors are critical to the success of the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP), as they facilitate the exchange and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements while creating a positive experience for participants.

Here are some key highlights:

General knowledge
• Legal entities designated by the Department of State to carry out the sponsorship duties of the EVP
• Can be public or private entities, such as a university, government agency, or private companies
• Also referred to as Exchange Visitor Program sponsors, J-1 visa program sponsors, designated sponsors, or simply sponsors
• Generally charge a fee or tuition to cover administrative expenses
• FUSIA is a designated sponsor in the J-1 intern category.

General duties
• Ensure that programs meet regulatory requirements set forth by the US Department of State
• Monitor the progress of participants to ensure compliance with program regulations
• Maintain regular contact with participants throughout their stay in the United States
• Evaluate program effectiveness and participant satisfaction
• Identify areas for improvement and implement changes as needed
• Promote ongoing program development and innovation to enhance the overall quality of the exchange experience for participants

Program operations
• Screen and select qualified participants for exchange programs
• Issue necessary documentation such as the Form DS-2019
• Provide pre-arrival orientation and support services for participants
• Assist participants with cultural adjustment
• Provide resources for medical and personal emergencies
• Conduct site visits to host organizations to ensure that the worksite and program are suitable

NOTE: FUSIA is a designated program sponsor that administers exchange programs in the J-1 intern category. As a designated sponsor, FUSIA brings qualified foreign nationals to participate in programs that promote the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills.

6 Responsible Officers

Responsible Officers (ROs) and Alternate Responsible Officers (AROs) are employees or officers appointed by designated sponsors and approved by the US Department of State to carry out the duties outlined in 22 CFR 62.11. They serve as the primary point of contact for exchange visitors and their hosts regarding program-related matters.

Here are some key highlights:

• Possess US citizenship or permanent residency
• Have thorough knowledge of policies, regulations, and all other operations relevant to the EVP
• Be familiar with relevant immigration laws and regulations

General duties
• Develop and implement procedures to maintain program integrity and comply with regulations
• Screen and select qualified foreign nationals for the program
• Monitor compliance of exchange visitors and take corrective action when necessary
• Maintain accurate records and submit reports to the DOS and DHS
• Evaluate program effectiveness to identify areas for improvement

Program operations
• Provide pre-arrival information and orientation to participants
• Monitor program activities and cultural events
• Assist exchange visitors in navigating cultural differences
• Issue and sign necessary forms such as DS-2019 and DS-7002
• Offer guidance and assistance in case of emergencies or issues

7 Supervisors (MPS & PPS)

Supervisors are assigned by the host and approved by the sponsor to oversee exchange programs and provide participants with adequate and qualified guidance and compliance.

To comply with 22 CFR 62.22(f)(2)(ii), hosts of exchange interns and trainees must provide experienced and knowledgeable staff for ongoing supervision and mentoring. Skilled supervisors should be assigned to the program, provided with sufficient resources and time for check-ins, feedback, and problem-solving.

Here are some key compliance requirements for hosts of FUSIA-sponsored internships and training programs:

Basic knowledge
• Each program requires one Main Program Supervisor (MPS/POC)
• Each phase requires one Primary Phase Supervisor (PPS)
• Each program may have one or more PPS
• PPS who meet the requirements can also serve as MPS
• Hosts may also assign Supporting Supervisors (SS) as needed
• Any changes to supervisor information require immediate reporting to FUSIA and completion of amendment procedures within 72 hours

• MPS oversees the program, serves as the primary point of contact with the sponsor, and ensures completion of program-related documents and compliance with program rules
• PPS provides direct on-site continuous supervision of participants
• SS ensures continuous on-site supervision and mentoring for compliance

Qualifications (MPS and PPS)
• Both are W-2 employees on the host’s payroll
• Both utilize company-assigned email for registration and communication
• Both have the authority to complete and sign program-related documents on behalf of the host
• Both hold a postsecondary-level certificate or degree
• Both have at least 1 year of professional experience
• PPS are full-time employees who work at the same site as the intern(s)
• PPS can supervise a maximum of two participants at a time, unless approved by FUSIA
• PPS must possess a relevant educational background or have a minimum of 2 years of professional experience in the participant’s training field

8 Site of Activity

Site of activity refers to designated physical location(s) where exchange visitors conduct their training activities as part of J-1 internship/training programs. Each program has at least one primary site of activity listed on the first page of Form DS-7002 and and Form DS-2019. Additional secondary locations can be added and attached to specific training phases as needed.

The primary site of activity is generally the same as the host’s name and address. Here are some key points to note:

General knowledge
• The primary site of activity is generally the same as the host’s name and address
• J-1 internships and training programs must be physical, meaning remote work is not permitted
• Participants can only engage in activities at predetermined physical site(s) as per Form DS-7002
• All sites must be located within 25 miles of the participant’s residence in the US
• If a host has multiple sites, each site should be attached to a different training phase, and the information should be repeated on pages 3-5 of Form DS-7002

Site visitation
• New hosts that have fewer than 25 employees or less than three million in annual revenue (as per the primary site listed on Form DS-7002) are generally required to have a site visit
• Each listed site would require a separate visit
• Academic institutions and US government offices are exempt from site visitation
• Programs conducted at retail stores, home offices, etc. are not permitted

Speical remarks
• The primary site’s name should match the host’s registered business information
• Each phase’s site name should be the host’s name. If there is a need to differentiate between sites, indicate the difference in the name, e.g., A Company (X Department), A Company (Y Department)
• Site address must be specific, include the floor or room number if any
• If activities occur on different floors, list the floor with the primary workstation or most activity
• Site changes require 72 hours’ notice and an amendment within 72 hours
• Changes to site information require updating Form DS-7002 and 2019
• Significant changes, if permitted, may incur additional processing fees


The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a web-based system used by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to monitor and track the activities of foreign students, exchange visitors, and their dependents during their stay in the United States.

Here are some key highlights about SEVIS:

General knowledge
• Tracks non-immigrant students and exchange visitors
• Developed in response to the requirement of the INA of 1952, as amended
• Requires accurate, up-to-date, and comprehensive data entry
• Inaccurate records may result in delays, denials of visa applications, or deportation

Benefits and duties
• Manages student and visitor information
• Ensures the safety and security of the US homeland
• Aids compliance with US immigration regulations
• Tracks non-immigrant students and exchange visitors to improve US safety
• Improves communication and collaboration between parties
• Enhances the overall efficiency of the immigration system

• SEVIS ID is a unique identifier assigned by SEVIS and is required for visa interviews and US entry; it consists of the letter N followed by nine digits
• The I-901 SEVIS fee is charged by the US government and varies based on the type of program and length of stay; it ranges from USD 35 to USD 350, with a fixed fee of USD 220 for J-1 interns
• The SEVIS fee is separate from the visa application fee and must be paid before the applicant’s visa interview

NOTE: For FUSIA-sponsored participants, the SEVIS fee is typically paid along with the visa sponsorship fee to FUSIA before issuance of the SEVIS ID, unless the participants choose to pay the fee on their own.

10 J-1 Program types (or categories)

The Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) has 15 different exchange categories focused on education, research, or professional development, and all designed to achieve the foreign policy objective of increasing mutual understanding with other countries.

Each category has its own rules and requirements. If you are interested in participating, first identify the program that aligns with your goals and the requirements you need to meet to join. Then, find a sponsor in your chosen category to administer your program.

• Intern: For current students or recent graduates, up to 12 months
• Trainee: For professionals to receive training in their field, up to 18 months
• Summer Work Travel: Opportunity to work and travel in the US during summer break
• Professor: Teach or conduct research in their academic field
• Research Scholar: Conduct research in their academic field
• Short-Term Scholar: Conduct short-term academic activities
• College and University Student: Study at a US college or university for a limited time
• Teacher: For experienced teachers to teach in primary or secondary schools in the US
• Secondary School Student: For foreign high school students to study in the US
• Specialist: For individuals with specialized knowledge or skills to participate
• Alien Physician: For foreign medical graduates
• Camp Counselor: For individuals to work as camp counselors in US summer camps
• Au Pair: For individuals to live with an American host family and provide child care services
• Government Visitor: For foreign government officials
• International Visitor: Sponsored directly by the Department of State

11 Occupational categories

J-1 training/internship programs are offered in ten different occupational categories. Pursuant to 22 CFR Part 62.4(h)(7), J-1 interns/trainees must attend a training/internship program that their sponsor is designated to sponsor, and that the program must be related to their academic field and tailored to their skills and experience level.

FUSIA is designated to sponsor the following occupational categories:

• Arts and Culture
• Information Media and Communications
• Management, Business, Commerce, and Finance
• Public Administration and Law
• Education, Social Sciences, Library Science, Counseling, and Social Services
• Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics, and Industrial Occupations

FUSIA doesn’t sponsor the following categories.

• Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
• Health Related Occupations
• Hospitality and Tourism
• Construction and Building Trades

NOTE: The Exchange Visitor Program, BridgeUSA internships are not for participants to sample or explore new academic or career fields. Each program must be aligned with the participant’s academic studies.