Intern & Trainee Cultural Exchange Program

Globalize your work place by welcoming an AHA international intern or trainee into your hospitality organization! Participants are highly motivated individuals who bring fresh energy and are enthusiastic about gaining hospitality career experience and are eager to collaborate and share with your U.S. employees.

The primary objectives of the Internship and Trainee Cultural Exchange programs are to enhance the skills and knowledge of the participant through structured and guided work-based training and to improve participants' knowledge of American techniques, methodologies. The Cultural Exchange programs offered by AHA give organizations the opportunity to hire talent from around the world as part of the U.S. government's Exchange Visitor Program. AHA is designated as a program sponsor by the U.S. Department of State.




Participants are available throughout the year to complete a structured work based program within Food & Beverage, Front Office and Culinary Operations at a fine American hotel, resort or hospitality organization. Highly motivated and dynamic program participants receive one of the two J-1 categories for a maximum of 12 months:

  • J-1 Intern Visa for students and recent graduates
  • J-1 Trainee Visa for young professionals

Is my company eligible?

To become an approved intern/trainee employer, AHA will require an application and certain documents. Review the following information and don't hesitate contact us at manager@americanhospitalityacademy.com. To be eligible, the employer must be able to:

  • Abide by all federal, state and local labor and occupational health and safety laws, including department of state wage and hour regulations.
  • Provide proof of a workers' compensation policy or equivalent insurance that covers J-1 participants (or proof of exemption), a Federal Identification Number and copy of business registration.
  • Provide a professional work environment, offering full-time (32-45 hrs. per week), professional-level training and not displace full- or part-time, temporary, or permanent American workers.
  • Be in business and operational for at least six months and have an English-language website and company-branded email addresses.
  • Employ 25 full time employees and revenue greater than 3 million. In some situations, AHA will complete the required site visit for employers who do not meet this regulation.
  • Develop an internship/training program that allows candidates to obtain skills, knowledge, and competencies through structured and guided training provided by. employees who are qualified in the candidates' fields. Ordinary, unskilled labor is not permitted.
  • Ensure Interns and Trainees have the opportunity to be exposed to U.S. culture and business practices and that your American staff is exposed to the culture and business practices of each candidate's home country.
  • Agree to complete mandatory program evaluations and to notify AHA in case of an emergency or any changes to the training plan or supervision.

AHA is designated to sponsor J-1 internships and training programs in the fields of Hospitality and Tourism and Management, Business, Commerce and Finance J-1 internships and training programs are intended to provide work-based training enabling candidates to enhance their skills and prepare for their future careers. These programs may NOT be used for ordinary employment purposes. Therefore, host employers must:

  • Provide full-time (32-45 hrs per week), professional-level training and not displace full- or part-time, temporary, or permanent American workers. This training may not require any sort of license or certification or commission-based work.
  • By completing the DS-7002 training plan, develop an internship program that allows candidates to obtain skills, knowledge, and competencies through structured and guided training provided by. employees who are qualified in the candidates' fields.
  • Ensure Interns and Trainees have sufficient opportunity to be exposed to U.S. culture and business practices and that your American staff is exposed to the culture and business practices of each candidate's home country.
  • Not attempt to extend an offer of employment or change the visa status of your Interns or Trainees, as it is required that they return home after completing the program.

If you are offering a program in the hospitality industry, be sure to review our hospitality requirements

Management, Business, Commerce and Finance full list of fields

Please review our list of prohibited training as well.

AHA requires Host Properties to have broad enough operations to facilitate a comprehensive training in the hospitality field including rotation through different departments and or functions depending on duration of the training. We typically find that hotels with at least a four-star/four-diamond rating as determined by AAA and/or Mobil Travel meet these requirements. In addition, some properties without this rating may also be appropriate for hospitality internship and trainee programs.



Training in the Hospitality/Tourism Industry
Exchange Visitors may not perform ordinary work or unskilled positions. Interns/Trainees must participate in comprehensive rotations through a variety of departments as outlined on the Training Internship Placement Plan.



Acceptable Rotations:

  • Front Desk/Concierge/Reservations
  • F&B Service Positions (restaurant, catering/banquets, hotel outlets) – focus is customer service skill, US service standards, teamwork, communication, financial goals, sales/marketing, leadership
  • Beverage Service - focus must includes cost control, service standards, sales and marketing, inventory, beverage management.
  • F&B Host - focus includes restaurant “floor” management, teamwork, leadership, communication, customer service
  • Professional Culinary Training Positions – must be rotated through different levels.
  • Activities and Event Planning: focus must be on event planning, scheduling and marketing, cost control and learning the position to understand its management and overall role in the operation
  • Purchasing/Accounting/HR/Sales/Executive Office
  • Advanced Training/Supervisor Skills - Interns/Trainees are encouraged to learn about budgeting, marketing, management, and scheduling by shadowing and observing supervisors.

Rotations Sometimes Acceptable

  • Housekeeping - only as part of a rotational training plan. Cannot exceed 3 days of job shadow and must focus on learning the position to understand standards, management and leadership.
  • Night Audit – training must be limited in duration cannot exceed 20% the training plan (60 days of a 12-month program) and must be 100% supervised. Participants cannot be training/working alone.
  • PBX – no more than 20% of the training plan
  • Server in Training – for participants with no or very limited experience, focus on overall introduction to operation and service standards, maximum duration 15 days' best practice, 30 days when additional training is necessary (benefitting participant's development) Training occurs during orientation or intro to new phase/rotation.
  • Prep Cook - for participants with no or very limited experience, focus on overall introduction to operation and service standards, maximum duration 30 days' best practice, 60 days when additional training is necessary. Occurs during orientation or intro to new phase/rotation
  • Retail: focus must be on service standards, sales techniques, marketing, purchasing, inventory and learning the position to understand its management and overall role in the operation. No more than 20% of the training plan.

Never Acceptable as Rotation, includes but not limited:

  • Cleaners Hotel/Resort, Housekeeping, Laundry
  • Dishwashing
  • Short Order Cook/Fast Food Prep
  • Fast Food Service/Cashier/General Clerk/Counter Help/Coffee Barista
  • Banquet Set Up
  • Food Busser
  • Valet
  • Spa
  • Maintenance
  • Security

TIP - a qualified training does not teach serving, front desk, cooking, this could potentially be considered "ordinary" and in some cases unskilled. The focus of each phase is to develop new skills and knowledge. For example, by rotating through these positions and departments, participants learn the position to understand how it is managed. Additionally, participants learn among other key competencies used by hospitality professionals: teamwork, cooperation, problem solving, time management, guest and public relation skills, intro to budget, marketing, HR, supervisor skills/leadership/management skills.

Once you have completed the necessary steps to be an approved intern/trainee host property, hiring an AHA-sponsored international intern/trainee is a simple, straight-forward process. As a Department of State designated sponsor, AHA works directly with you to:



  1. Recruit and identify qualified intern/trainee candidates
  2. Arrange interview via telephone or Skype
  3. Assists in designing a comprehensive training plan and complete required the DS-7002 form, Trainee Internship Placement Plan.
  4. Submits the DS-7002 form for signatures and enters into Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The exchange visitor program (J visa) is managed by the U.S. Department of State, the SEVIS system is maintained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  5. Finalizes the process and send the DS-2019 to applicant to apply for a J-1 visa with their local U.S. Embassy/Consulate
  6. Prepare your participants for their arrival, provides you arrival updates
  7. Provides ongoing support throughout the program to you and your participants!

Please note, certain cases may not follow this exact process, on average this process takes 6-8 weeks to complete.

As the premier provider of international training and work programs specifically designed for the hospitality industry, we are committed to providing you with the highest level customer service, support and assistance in the industry:

  • AHA recruits on your behalf, presents candidates meeting your specific needs and helps you prepare for the arrival of your international participants.
  • AHA works with you to educate your management and supervisory team on Cultural Exchange programs, requirements and what to expect from your international participants. Your team will have full access to AHA's Employers Portal full of information and resources.
  • We thoroughly prepare your international participants for their experience in the United States. We focus on open communication, setting clear expectations and understanding life in the U.S. After they arrive, we provide ongoing support and outreach.
  • Your participants will benefit from an advanced level of structured learning and cultural exchange through their enrollment into World Campus, AHA's online global community. In World Campus, participants have access to professional development seminars, training tools and resources, discussion forums and more.
  • AHA participants are eligible to earn AHA's Hospitality Professional Certificate - additionally we invite ALL of your employees to earn the Hospitality Professional Certificate - at no additional cost to you or your employees!
  • AHA is designated as a program sponsor by the U.S. Department of State.

View Video: Intro to World Campus

At AHA, we believe the hospitality industry is the ultimate platform for cultural exchange experiences. Through our cultural exchange programs, your guests, employees and the local community breakdown stereotypes, see the world from another perspective; become more tolerant and respectful of differences; and appreciate similarities that bring people together. These are the goals of people-to-people exchange and are the central reasons the Exchange Visitor Program exists.


The Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961


As a proud sponsor and cultural exchange organization, we encourage our participants and professional colleagues to learn about The Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, also known as the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. This important act enables the Government of the United States to:

  • Increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange.
  • Strengthen the ties, which unite us with other nations by demonstrating the educational and cultural interests, developments, and achievements of the people of the United States and other nations, and contributions being made toward a peaceful and more fruitful life for people throughout the world.
  • Promote international cooperation for educational and cultural advancement and thus assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations between the United States and the other countries of the world.

Cultural Exchange 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 exchange and are the central reasons the Exchange Visitor Program exists.

Finding forums for participants to showcase their culture is a great way to help domestic and international staff get to know each other. Take the opportunity to educate your participants about the U.S. A few examples:

  • Put together a bulletin board in a public place. Ask staff to add photos or items from their home countries or states. Staff may find they have more in common than they first thought!
  • Start a buddy system. Pair a domestic employee with each participant who can answer questions, make introductions, and share ideas about what makes working in the U.S. different from working in the participant's home country.
  • Challenge employees to a game of U.S. and international trivia. Staff members get to showcase what makes their home communities unique and learn about new parts of the world.
  • Ask participants questions and encourage them to share stories about their culture and traditions. This will help you get to know your new employees and will help to make a lasting impression.
  • Encourage participants to play AHA's BINGO
  • Schedule informal, weekly conversation opportunities for your employees to learn from your intern/trainee.
  • Teach your intern/trainee American vocabulary words or idioms.
  • Celebrate co-workers birthdays.
  • Teach your intern how elections in the U.S. work and learn about the governing structure in your intern/trainee's home country.
  • Show your intern the U.S. flag and your state flag; learn about what the flag of your intern/trainee's home country represents.

Creating a fun, social environment outside of the workplace for your domestic and international staff is a great way to promote cultural exchange. Many employers provide different activities to engage all of their employees. Here are just a few ideas of ways to help students and staff connect.

  • Organize fun events: Throw a small party – an American-style BBQ for example – to introduce international students to your staff. Prepare an ice breaker to get people talking and make your participant feel welcome.
  • Show off your community: Arrange visits to local parks, farmers' markets, beaches, festivals, museums, restaurants, food trucks, camping, or any other sites that make your part of America unique.
  • Encourage employees to showcase their cultures: Host a cultural spotlight event or hold a casual potluck and suggest participants bring a dish that represents their home country.
  • Enjoy typical American foods, such as s'mores, BBQ, food trucks, apple pie, peanut butter and Girl Scout cookies.
  • Teach your intern about American Sports: football, the Super Bowl, college football, baseball, kickball, dodgeball, frisbee, basketball and march madness.
  • Inform your intern about exercise classes in your area, such as yoga or aerobics, and learn the common practices for staying fit in your intern/trainee's home country.
  • Celebrate American holidays by sharing food or partaking in activities relating to Thanksgiving, Halloween, and other holidays. Host a Fourth of July barbecue.
  • Explore popular musical genres in the U.S.: Country music, Jazz music.

AHA is committed to providing you with the highest level of customer service; every AHA's host employer works with a passionate and dedicated AHA manager to assist with any needs that arise. Additionally host managers and supervisors will have full access to AHA' Employer Portal, a one stop location jammed packed with all the resources and information needed to host a world class international program!

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