Process for U.S. J-1 visa

Update on USA visa restrictions due to COVID-19

To reflect changes to global travel restrictions, Waterloo has updated international travel guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. Please visit the co-op work term updates webpage for the most up-to-date information.

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 Exhange 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 ceeusaies@uwaterloo.ca
    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 here.
  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 US Consulate before entry into the US 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.