Process for U.S. J-1 visa

If you are a non-Canadian employer hiring co-op students from the University of Waterloo, be sure to discuss logistics about the job. Communicate the following with your co-op student (intern):

  • Start and end dates of the work period
  • Compensation details
  • Relocation expenses, such as travel and housing assistance
  • Cultural onboarding resources, local transit information
  • Confirm their visa sponsor choice
  • Payment of administrative fee for visa

U.S. Visa Information

Students will most likely require a U.S. J-1 visa to intern in the U.S. Contact your HR department for your organizations best practices when attaining and processing J-1 Visas for students outside of the U.S.

Note: Begin obtaining a J-1 visa as soon as possible after you have been matched with your student(s). This process takes multiple weeks, and is increased if the student hired from Waterloo is not a Canadian citizen.

U.S. J-1 Cultural Exchange Visitors Status: Intern Category

As the employer, you are required to prepare for your student’s entrance into the U.S. This includes:

  1. Choosing a sponsor
    1. Check if your organization uses a sponsor.
    2. Consider using one of our preferred sponsors: Cultural Vistas or Intrax.
      1. To get started with one of our preferred sponsors, please contact our International Employment Services team at
    3. If your organization is matched with a Waterloo student and you are using one of our preferred sponsors, the International Employment Specialist will automatically email both you and student after the match with next steps.
  2. Prepare the J-1 application documents
    1. Prepare J-1 application documents in accordance with the guidelines provided by your sponsor.
    2. Cultural Vistas and Intrax will provide assistance with this process, though not all sponsors do.
  3. Pay fees
    1. Pay the sponsor’s application and processing fee
    2. More information about fees can be found on our Co-operative Education site.
  4. Have your sponsor issue the DS-2019 form
    1. After processing, the sponsor issues the DS-2019 form to the student which takes about 4 weeks. This allows Canadian students to obtain the J-1 visa at USCIS (immigration at the point of entry).
      1. NOTE: Citizens of countries other than the United States and Canada are also required to undertake an interview at a U.S. Consulate before entry into the U.S. is permitted, an additional step which can take 2-6 weeks.

The department of Co-operative and Experiential Education at the University of Waterloo and the sponsor provide the students with work term readiness training that includes information on taxes, SSN, health insurance, risk management and more.

Outside of the U.S.

If you are an employer located outside of Canada and the U.S., contact our International Employment Specialist for more information international co-op employment.

Current University travel policies

Effective February 28, 2022, the Government of Canada has adjusted the global travel advisory for many destinations around the world. The University, along with Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE), has reviewed these changes and updated our guidelines for co-op work terms outside of Canada:

  • CEE will continue with existing policies and will not approve work terms in locations listed on the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) website as high risk (i.e., “Avoid non-essential travel” or “Avoid all travel”).
  • If you have students who have committed to working remotely for you, we ask that you discuss any potential changes of work location with your student and provide options and support.

Important notes for all employers:

Many destinations and jurisdictions require individuals to work in the country where the employer is located. Employers and students may also have to comply with specific regulatory requirements to work across borders.

It is your responsibility to research and meet any restrictions and requirements. Please clarify your expectations around work term location and discuss any relevant details during your interviews with students. We cannot provide citizenship information for students or consult on employment decisions made between employers and students.

We cannot advise or consult on the legality of remote work arrangements.

You must discuss any changes to previously agreed-upon work term arrangements with your Account Manager before presenting changes to your hired student(s).