GACC J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

Thank you for your interest in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program of the German American Chambers of Commerce!

What is the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa?

You can only apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa for an internship/training in the United States by presenting the DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility at a U.S. Consulate in your home country.

The German American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. and the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, Inc. (GACCs) are non-profit organizations, officially authorized and designated by the U.S. Department of State (DoS) to issue the DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility to interns/trainees.

With the issuance of the DS-2019, the GACCs operate as the legal sponsors of the participants during their entire stay in the U.S. The issuance of the DS-2019 and thus participation in a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program of the GACCs is subject to various conditions and federal regulations imposed by the DoS and internal rules of the GACCs.

The GACCs offer their J-1 Exchange Visitor Programs in the categories of "Intern" and "Trainee". The J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is used to bridge formal education and work-based training and is only granted for temporary stays (maximum 12 months for interns and 18 months for trainees).

Potentially eligible for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa are

Please note that the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is NOT a work visa and is not to be used as such, and it is not designed for permanent residence in the U.S.

All program participants and their host companies must acknowledge and accept application guidelines of the DoS and the internal rules of the GACCs.

Host companies seeking permanent employment of an applicant must contact an appropriate immigration attorney.

The GACCs reserve the right to refuse sponsorship at any time, including but not limited to suspected abuse by candidates or host companies, or if candidates or host companies appear to be unsuited.

For more information please read the full "Code of Federal Regulations". 

Who can apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa?

A J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa can be issued to students, recent graduates and young professionals. The GACCs are designated sponsors for the J-1 visa categories "Intern" and "Trainee". The maximum duration of a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is 12 months for an internship and 18 months for a traineeship.

General requirements for all applicants:

Please check here which J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa category applies to you.

Information about the J-1 Visa Process

Please follow the application process step by step and read through everything very carefully. Also, before you start gathering materials for your application, be sure to read through our important advice.

Once we have all correct documents from you and your host company, your application will be considered complete and we will begin processing your application for a DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility. 

Participation Requirements

Students and graduates are both eligible for J-1 Exchange Visitor Visas. The GACCs sponsor J-1 Visas for the categories "Intern" and "Trainee".

The maximum duration for a J-1 exchange program is 12 months (intern) and 18 month (trainee).

If you are completing a German apprenticeship program or if you have earned an apprenticeship credential, you may be eligible for J-1 visa sponsorship as well. Please contact us for more information.

Requirements for Applicants are available here.

Requirements for Host Companies are available here.

Processing Time, Fees and Further Information

Once we have received and reviewed all necessary documents from you and your host company, your application will be considered complete and we will begin processing your application for a DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility. At that point you should plan on a processing time of up to 6 weeks for the issuance of the DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility.

We encourage host companies and participants to submit all documents approximately 10 weeks before the start date.

Our program fee is calculated according to the duration of your internship/traineeship.

A detailed list of our program fees can be downloaded here.

Please note that all amounts are stated in U.S. dollars and can be paid either by bank transfer to our German bank account or by filling out a credit card authorization form. For more information about our payment methods, please contact your case manager.

In addition to the program fees paid to the GACC, the U.S. Consulates worldwide currently charge $160 for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa application (MRV fee). J-1 applicants are also required to pay a $220 SEVIS fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after the DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility has been issued. Further information and current visa wait times can be found on the website of the U.S. Consulates.

Intercultural Component of the Program

Every Exchange Visitor Program in the U.S. needs to include intercultural activities and experiences.

Why Does an Exchange Visitor Program Need an Intercultural Component?

The Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) brings true global value to American public diplomacy. People-to-people exchange programs provide unlimited opportunity for exchange visitors and Americans to engage with one another, to help exchange visitors learn about the United States and its place in the global community, to break down cultural prejudices and misunderstandings, and in the long-term expand and strengthen the relationships between Americans and the rest of the world. 

In accordance with the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, these cultural, educational and professional exchanges are intended to build mutual understanding -- and help create a foundation of trust between Americans and the rest of the world. By bringing people together to share perspectives and experiences – at home and abroad.

Each EVP category offers participants a unique opportunity to experience the U.S. and its diversity, and to connect directly with Americans. The intercultural component of the EVP experience is critical to the short-term success of each individual exchange, and to the long-term effectiveness of the Program and of U.S. public diplomacy overall.

Success is best achieved through careful planning and execution of the cultural component of the exchange program. 

What is the Goal of a Intercultural Component?

The intercultural component of the exchange program gives participants the opportunity to learn about U.S. society and culture outside of their placement; to share their own culture, traditions and views with Americans; to help see the world from another perspective; to be more tolerant and respectful of differences; and to appreciate similarities that bring people together. These are the goals of people-to-people exchanges and are the central mission of the Exchange Visitor Program.

Information for a Second J-1 Visa


A second internship may take place at the original host company or at a new host company.

1. If the second internship takes place at the original host company, the activities and tasks must be different from those performed during the first internship and must be carried out at a more advanced level.

2. A maximum of two J-1 visas are possible with a total duration of 12 months, assuming the second internship begins within 12 months after completion of the first. There must however be a six-month period between the internships, during which the candidate must remain in his/her home country. This six-month period is crucial in clearly defining the two separate and distinct internships.

3. If the second internship begins more than 12 months after completion of the first internship, the second internship may itself last up to an additional 12 months.


A second traineeship may take place at the original host company or at a new host company. Trainees are eligible for additional training programs after having spent a period of at least two years outside the United States (home country physical presence requirement) following completion of their training program.

Participants who have successfully completed internship programs and no longer meet the selection criteria for an additional internship program may participate in a training program if they have resided outside the United States or its territories for at least two years.

J-1 Visa Extension

It is possible to extend the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program at the host company for up to a total duration of 12 months (internship) or 18 months (traineeship). An extension is only allowed once during the total time of the program, so it is recommended to weigh the options carefully before deciding on the length of the extension.

Please note, however, that an extension may not simply be a continuation of the present activities and tasks. An extension is only granted under the condition that the intern/trainee will be undertaking new and more challenging tasks in the present training area or will be working on a new project. This new position must build upon the practical skills the intern/trainee has learned in his/her present position. The application documents must reflect these changes.

No J-1 extension requests will be accepted less than halfway through the original program duration. For example, if your original program duration is 6 months, you may register for an extension here on our website after 3 months of active participation and not before.

Acceptance of your extension request will be based on the accuracy of the aforementioned criteria. Therefore, the necessary paperwork must be prepared very carefully and with great detail!

More information about the documents you need to submit and travel regulations within the extension period can be found here.

To apply for a J-1 extension please register online by filling out the registration form.

Refund Policy


Is the SEVIS fee refundable if I am denied a visa, if I have a change of status, or if I receive a reinstatement?

Once paid, the SEVIS fee is non-refundable. This rule applies even if your visa application is denied or, subsequent to issuance of the visa, if you choose not to come to the United States.

If you applied for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa and paid the SEVIS fee within the last year but were denied a visa, you do not have to pay the SEVIS fee again as long as you re-apply for the same kind of program within 12 months of the visa denial.

You can find more information here.

GACCs Program Fee

Once the visa application has been submitted, the regular program fee may be refunded less a $200 administrative fee.

After the DS-2019 has been issued, only 50% of the regular program fee will be refunded.

If the participant has received the J-1 Visa, no refund will be granted for the program fee.

If the DS-2019 has been issued to the participant, but the J-1 visa was denied by the U.S. Consulate, only 50% of the J-1 Visa regular program fee will be refunded. 

If the DS-2019 has been issued to the participant, none of the priority processing fees will be refunded.

Lost or Stolen Documents

Passports, visas, and arrival/departure records are official travel documents that foreign citizens coming to the United States must have in their possession in order to show their country of citizenship and legal status in the U.S. Should you lose any of these documents, you must contact us as your legal sponsor immediately! We encourage travelers to make a copy of their passport biographic page, U.S. visa and DS-2019 as soon as possible after their arrival in the U.S.

More information in the event of lost or stolen documents can be found here.