Step 1: Arrange Your Project

Applicants are responsible for arranging their project. Contact IA&A if you need assistance finding resources and contacts in your field.

Step 2: Submit Online Application
Please complete the online application first. You must answer all questions in the form. If you don’t fill out the online application completely you won’t be able to submit the form.

Applying early is strongly recommended!

Cultural Exchange Programs’ director will contact you with a decision via email upon completion of your review.  If your application is approved, carefully follow the instructions in your application approval email and proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Submit Initial Documents
If your online application is approved, you will be asked to submit the following documents, consolidated in a single PDF or JPEG file:
  • Completed IA&A Scholar Agreement and IA&A Host Agreement. These forms will be sent to you upon acceptance of your online application.
  • Offer letter from your host organization.
  • Passport (photo ID page). Passport must be valid at least 6 months after the end date of the proposed project in the U.S.
  • If you are currently in the U.S. you must also submit a photocopy of your current U.S. visa or I-94 .
  • Small ID-sized color photo of candidate taken in the last 6 months.
  • Two references that IA&A can contact by email. References can be employers, professors, and/or advisors that can verify your research or publications in your field.
  • Financial guarantor documents. Your guarantor must be a family member or close friend that resides in your country of residence. You cannot be your own guarantor and this requirement is for all candidates, paid or unpaid. Your guarantor must provide the following documents:
    • Guarantor’s statement of financial responsibility stating that the guarantor will take full responsibility for the participant throughout their stay in the U.S. on IA&A’s program. The letter must also state the guarantor’s relationship to the applicant.
    • Photo ID (passport or driver’s license) of guarantor.
    • Bank statement proving a current balance of at least $1000 USD per month of placement plus an additional $1000 USD to cover the 30-day grace period.
  • University transcript or diploma proving higher degree in related field.
  • Essay, minimum 500 words, specifically outlining your project. The essay must be typed and then signed.
  • Resume/CV
  • Staff list if host has less than 25 full-time employees.
  • Contact details for the human resources contact/payroll manager and for the secondary supervisor at the host organization. Include full name, title, email, and direct phone number. There are three contacts required in total.
  • Certificate of workman’s compensation insurance (WCI) from host organization (see a sample certificate). It is not required that the policy cover the exchange program participant.
  • To request financial aid, submit a letter of request with your supporting documents. The letter of request should elaborate on the applicant’s financial need and describe the sources of funding the applicant will receive during their J-1 program. Financial aid requests are subject to review and are granted on a case-by-case basis.

Any documents not in English must be submitted with translations and signed translation certifications attached. A sample translation certification can be found here. Any applications submitted without necessary translations will be considered incomplete.

Please submit all of your documents together, consolidated in a single PDF or JPEG file. Documents will not be reviewed if sent in multiple parts.

EMAIL: Send documents as a PDF or JPEG file to

SHARE: Gmail account-holders can submit documents as a single file via Document Share to

Step 4: Skype Review and Fee Payment
Skype Review

Your Review & Fee appointment, held over Skype with CEP’s director, is a chance for us to learn more about you, clarify any questions we have about your initial documents, and share information with you about the next steps of the sponsorship application process.

The date of your Review & Fee appointment will be included in your application approval email.  Be sure to confirm your availability for the proposed appointment via email within 3 days or your appointment will be postponed. You must submit your initial documents at least 24 hours prior to your Review & Fee Appointment.   

Fee Payment

During your Review & Fee appointment, if everything is in order with your documents, you will be sent an invoice for your IA&A program fee during your Skype appointment. It is expected that you pay your fee via PayPal during your appointment. See the Fees page for details.  IA&A cannot accept payment by wire transfer.

Step 5: Webcam Interview and Site Visit
Webcam Orientation

After the payment has been received, IA&A will contact you to schedule your required Webcam Orientation & Passport Verification. You must have your valid passport with you for this interview, which will be conducted via webcam on Skype.

Site Visit

Site visits are always required if this is the first time that IA&A will be sponsoring an intern or trainee for a placement at this host organization or at a previous host’s new location.

There is a $250 charge for site visits. If a site visit is required, the DS-2019 cannot be issued until the site visit has been completed. Please allow up to 3 weeks for the entire site visit process.

Step 6: Submit Additional Documents
Please submit the following additional documents in a single PDF or JPEG file:

  • Health insurance proof of purchase showing the description of coverage. You must enroll for the duration of your program plus the 30-day grace period.
    • If you chose to apply to a plan that is not listed on IA&A’s website, you must indicate the text that proves word-for-word that the policy you chose meets the requirements listed on IA&A’s Insurance Form.
    • If your insurance provider limits the number of months of coverage you may purchase, please purchase the maximum duration of coverage available.  You may extend your insurance to cover the entirety of your program later.
  • Shipping address and telephone number where you would like to receive your visa documents package.

Any documents not in English must be submitted with translations and signed translation certifications attached. A sample translation certification can be found here. Any applications submitted without necessary translations will be considered incomplete.

EMAIL: Send documents as a PDF or JPEG file to

SHARE: Gmail account-holders can submit documents as a single file via Document Share to

Step 7: Issuance of DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility)

Within approximately 2 weeks of receiving your additional documents, IA&A will send the complete visa documents package to you via express mail. The document package includes:

  • DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility, signed by IA&A.
  • IA&A Scholar Agreement, signed by IA&A and you.

Bring both of these documents with you to your visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate. See Step 8 for more information.

On the day that the DS-2019 package is shipped, your Program Officer will send an IA&A Program Manual to you via email.  You should confirm receipt and review the contents of the manual at your earliest convenience.  IA&A will also send digital copies of the countersigned Scholar Agreement along with an IA&A Host Manual and other program information to your host via email.

Step 8: Schedule Visa Interview
To obtain a J-1 visa you must apply at the U.S. embassy or consulate in person. Once you have received your J-1 visa in your passport you can arrange your trip to the U.S. and start your project.

If you applying with a Canadian passport you do not need to attend an interview or receive a Machine Readable Visa (MRV) in your passport. You can enter the U.S. with your document package and SEVIS receipt.

Please refer to the U.S. embassy or consulate’s website for instructions on submitting the DS-160 non-immigrant visa application and paying the MRV (machine-readable visa) fee.

DS-160 Non-Immigrant Visa Application

Please be prepared to provide the following information when you complete the DS-160. Contact IA&A if you have questions about this form. Canadians do not have to complete this form.

  • Address where you will stay in the U.S. You may use your host organization’s professional address if you do not yet have a U.S. living address.
  • Contact person or organization in the U.S.
  • Two contacts in your home country who can verify your eligibility for the J-1 program.


The $160 MRV fee is not included in your IA&A program fees. Please see the U.S. consulate or embassy website for details on how to pay this fee. Canadians do not pay this fee.


The $180 SEVIS I-901 fee is not included in your IA&A program fees. It is payable at Canadians must also pay this fee and bring proof of payment to the border.

Step 9: Attend Visa Interview
Interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate

Due to increased security, most U.S. embassies and consulates will require you to undergo an in-person interview with a consular officer as part of the J-1 visa application. This can take anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks to arrange, so bear this is mind when you are confirming your project start date. Note that Canadians are exempt from this requirement.

Required Documents

Depending on the country in which you are applying for your J-1 visa, the following list of required documentation may vary. However, the list is generally as follows:

  • Completed DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility)
  • Completed DS-160 (Non-immigrant Visa Application)
  • Passport, which must be valid for six months after the end date of your placement
  • Evidence to show that you have sufficient funds to cover all expenses during your stay in the U.S.
  • Recent photograph (visit the Embassy’s website for photo size requirements)
  • Proof of ties abroad (in country other than the U.S.)
  • Evidence of having paid the MRV fee with the paying-in slip
Step 10: Purchase Plane Tickets

Please do not book any air tickets until you have received your J-1 visa. Delays can occur in visa processing, especially around holiday periods (December) and during the summer period (June through September).

Step 11: Contact IA&A After Arrival

Contact IA&A when you arrive in the U.S. to confirm the start of your placement, your U.S. address, and mobile phone number. You may arrive within 30 days of the start date listed on your DS-2019 form.

Step 12: Connect with IA&A

Make the most of your internship experience and join your local IA&A chapter mailing list. Visit our Community page to learn how you can connect to other international interns and trainees in your city.

Resources for Applicants

Read through the application steps before submitting your online application. Contact IA&A if you have any questions.

Online Application


Application Process


Health Insurance


After U.S. Arrival