Five Tips to Submit a Strong Trainee/Internship Placement Plan (DS-7002)

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Photo by Lucas

Evaluating the merits of an application for J-1 intern or trainee program sponsorship is like putting puzzle together. Some puzzles have few pieces; others are more complex. Just as larger puzzles take more time to complete, the complexity of a sponsorship application may account for longer processing time. The best way to simplify the path to sponsorship and guide a successful exchange is to submit a strong Training/Internship Placement Plan (form DS-7002).

Since program sponsors are responsible for the content of the placement plan, we review virtual stacks of DS-7002s every year and sometimes weigh in on the design of the plan. Our team is guided by training and experience to look for cues to suggest your program meets the overall intent of the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) as well as the detailed regulations governing eligibility and program management (see 22 C.F.R.§62.22 for regs referenced in text).

A review of any formal plan prompts three possible outcomes from our advisors:

  • Approve the plan and continue to review the full application for sponsorship eligibility;
  • Dismiss the plan as ineligible for sponsorship and notify applicants;
  • Request revisions or updates to the plan from hosts and/or legal representatives.

Given the significance of the form DS-7002, we understand finding the right tone and language to describe good faith, hands-on learning designed to promote cross-cultural understanding can be intimidating. It can seem like a lot to expect,, especially if you believe the interactions facilitated by exchanges have intrinsic value or are inherently positive (we do too!).

To help, here are five tips to get you planning and writing within the boundaries of the EVP:

  1. Match the training content and field to the exchange visitor’s educational or professional background. Introductory remarks in the regulations state the trainee category is intended for those with experience in a specific occupational field to continue U.S.-based training in the same field. Likewise, interns are expected to receive training “in their field of academic study”(§62.22(a)).
  1. Complete every field in the form DS-7002.All fields in the placement plan are required, unless specifically marked optional (there is only one of those). The information requested on form DS-7002 directly correlates with fields required by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to issue a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status (form DS-2019). We cannot issue a form without complete information.
  1. Avoid plugging in goals, activities, or measurements suited to ordinary employment. Bona fide training provides intentional opportunities for foreign-born visitors and organizations embedded in American communities to share each other’s knowledge and perspectives (§62.22(f)(1)(iii)). Good plans outline what the exchange visitor will learn and share. Assessments evaluate learning, not performance
  1. Include planned, seasonally-appropriate cross-cultural activities away from ‘the office’ in each phase. Cross-cultural activities “promote exposure and interchange between exchange visitors and Americans” (§62.2). Use your local resources to plan an actual outing and engage employees or community members as well. Planned activities go beyond listing local museums or locations you will suggest to the visitor.
  1. Provide detailed lists of training specifics and avoid repetition between phases. Our advisers are looking for a plan that aligns program goals and requested duration. A single phase may have multiple goals, objectives, activities, learning outcomes, methods, and measurements. Avoid redundancy without clearly distinguishing the needs for multiple phases or additional training. Each phase can cover up to six months. Be sure to include enough detail to justify the duration.

Finally, the form DS-7002 should also serve as a reliable guide throughout an exchange visitor program. Changes to the plan may be allowed, but must be submitted to the program sponsor before the changes are implemented. As your exchange partner, we look forward to working with you to guide and meet the unique value and expectations of impactful exchange visitor programming.

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