Cultural Exchange Program

Want to immerse yourself in another culture while also making great strides in your hospitality career? AHA's Intern Train USA programs are for you! Add international experience to your resume, build your global network, improve your language skills, and take time to travel the country and make friends.

As an organization designated by the U.S. Department of State to administer the cultural exchange programs, AHA will be your sponsor for the ultimate cultural exchange experience with our custom placement service and unparalleled support.

For over 30 years, AHA has facilitated thousands of cultural exchange programs and we'll be there every step of the way. AHA fosters an environment where diversity is valued, essential skills are developed, and individual aspirations are fulfilled. We are committed to creating opportunities that bring people together and enriches lives.




The primary goals of AHA Intern and Trainee Programs are to enhance your skills and expertise and to improve knowledge of American business techniques, methodologies, and technology. Intern and Trainee programs cannot be used for ordinary employment or to displace American workers. The program will help increase your understanding of American culture, while also enhancing Americans' knowledge of your culture, customs and practices. Through this program, you will help to promote mutual understanding while building global knowledge, skills and friendships.

General eligibility requirements are as follows:


Interns Must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be enrolled in an accredited academic institution or have graduated within 12 months of your internship start date
  • Have the English skills necessary to operate in an American workplace
  • Train in a field related to your academic or professional background

Trainees Must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a diploma from an accredited academic institution and at least 1 year of related professional work experience (or 5 years of relevant professional work experience if you do not have a post-secondary degree)
  • Have the English skills necessary to operate in an American workplace
  • Plan to train in a field related to your academic and/or professional background.

Yes! As the leading provider of internships and training programs specifically designed for the hospitality industry, AHA offers a tailored placement service at premier hotels and resorts throughout the United States.

The maximum duration of the Hospitality Internship and Training Cultural Exchange Program is 12 months. At the end of your program, you will have a grace period of 30 days to travel in the USA.

With AHA it's simple, complete an online application and a professional resume will be created through our automatic resume builder.

Upon receipt of your approved application, you will be scheduled a time to speak with an AHA manager to review your qualifications, expectations and answer any questions you may have.

Yes! Please submit a copy of your resume, details of your host employer and training plan for prescreening to Info@AmericanHospitalityAcademy.com. Once approved, you will be asked to complete the online program application and begin the enrollment process.

Participants are expected to remain at the original host employer for the duration of the program. While extremely rare, there are valid reasons for requesting a change of host organization. These include:

  • Financial difficulties at the host organization
  • Unwillingness or inability of the host organization to follow the training plan or program requirements
  • Conflict between the participant and host organization that cannot be resolved
  • Physical or emotional abuse, or harassment by colleagues or management

If such a problem arises, please contact AHA immediately. We’ll work with you and your host organization to address the issue. If no resolution is possible, you may be able to change your host.

Applicants who have previously participated in a J-1 program in other categories (Au Pair, Student, Work and Travel, etc.) may be able to apply for the J-1 Intern and J-1 Trainee Visa at a later date, but this is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us to discuss.

No. Applicants must return to their home country to apply to the Intern/Trainee program. If you require a change of status from another visa to the J-1 Visa, AHA will not be able to assist you.

To qualify for a new internship, you must show you have successfully completed the recognized course of study during which time you participated in your first internship program and you are now currently enrolled and pursuing studies at the next higher level of academic study [or now pursuing studies in a different field of academic study]. The new internship cannot duplicate previous training and must show you are learning new or more advanced skills.

Interns/Trainees who have previously completed a J-1 Intern or Trainee Visa must wait at least two years before being eligible for another J-1 Trainee Visa. The trainee program cannot duplicate previous training and must show you are learning new or more advanced skills. This is required for all participants who have previously held a J-1 Intern or Trainee Visa and is not related to Rule 212(e), also known as the two-year home residency requirement.

To be eligible for the program, the regulations state that your degree must be earned in a post-secondary institution outside of the U.S. Therefore, your U.S. degree does not qualify you for the program.

Per the regulations for the program, only experience earned outside the U.S. is counted towards your eligibility. Therefore, you must first earn sufficient work experience outside the U.S. in order to be eligible.

7 business days prior to your arrival, log into AHA account and complete the arrival form. Validate your visa within 24 hours of arrival by logging into your AHA account. If for any reason you cannot login, contact AHA!
Login at: https://my.ahaworldcampus.com

5 business days AFTER you validated your visa with AHA you can apply for social security number. If you apply too soon, it will cause a delay in receiving your social security number which may result in problems with receiving your pay.

You will receive the hourly rate indicated on your work and travel offer. If you are assigned a tipped position, you may receive a tip rate which is lower than the minimum rate because you keep your tips as part of your income. Host employers are required to adhere to U.S. wage and hours laws. https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/hrg.htm


Taxes You Pay:

  • Federal Income Tax
  • State Income Tax
  • Local or City Income Tax

Taxes You DO NOT Pay:

  • Social Security and Medicare tax (FICA)
  • Federal unemployment tax (FUTA)

If you see deductions that say FICA, FUTA, S.S. or Social Security, please notify your employer promptly. If your employer is unable to issue a refund, contact the Internal Revenue Service Center and request IRS Form 843 Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement. You will need to submit the completed IRS forms to the Internal Revenue Service Center. Please note: some states may deduct state unemployment taxes, which you are required to pay.

For tax purposes, you are required to fill out a W-4 Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate as soon as you start your program. The instructions on the W-4 Form are for U.S. residents; they are not for you. Please follow the instructions below.

  • Mark or check Single on line 3, even if you are married.
  • Claim "1" on line 5. If you are a resident of Canada, Mexico, Japan, or South Korea, or a U.S. national, please visit the IRS website for instructions.
  • Write Non-Resident Alien or "NRA" on the dotted line.
  • Do not claim Exempt on line 7. Line 7 should be left blank.
  • You are not exempt just because you are a student in your home country or because you make less than a certain amount of money. Please do not claim exempt.

Under no circumstances are you permitted to seek additional employment or training while in the U.S., so please do not plan to rely on a second job to supplement your income. Working anywhere else besides your internship/training program location is strictly prohibited and is a very serious violation of the terms of your visa. Your program will be terminated and you may not be allowed to return to the U.S. in the future if you violate this rule.

Check your email often and/or log into your account to adhere to the following mandatory requirements:

  • Complete the required program evaluations, these will be emailed to you when the are due.
  • Every 30 days you will receive a reminder to complete the monthly check in by logging you’re your AHA account and share feedback and photos. Failure to communicate with AHA at least once a month, can place your program at risk of termination.
  • If you change your address, you must notify AHA within 10 days.

Yes, however there are important procedures you must follow before any travel in or out of the U.S. Please download the travel document in the portal or email manager@americanhospitalityacademy.com

In the United States it is an acceptable and professional practice to communicate with your employer openly. If any area of your cultural exchange program at your host property is causing you concern, speak with your supervisor or manager. AHA is here to help you navigate and resolve any problems that arise during your program. We will work with you and your employer to address the issue and assist in resolving the problem or concern.

It is required that you file an income tax return since federal, state and local taxes were deducted from the pay you received while working in the United States. You must have a copy of a W-2 form from your employer in order to complete the income tax return. The form will show the total amount of your taxes withheld from your paycheck during the calendar year. Employers are required to issue the W-2 form by January 31 for the prior calendar year (January through December).

Before you leave the U.S., please make arrangements with your employer to receive a paper or electronic copy of your W-2.

New Tax Information
Starting January 1, 2018 (until 2026) the personal exemption has been suspended. In the past, students may have received refunds from the federal government. Due to the change (IRS Publication 515) you will not receive any federal refunds if you have earned less than $9,525. State taxes are not affected by this act, and are dependent on the state you worked in. You may still be eligible for a State refund regardless of the amount you earned.

Deadline to File Tax Return
You are required by law to file a U.S. income tax return. The deadline is April 15 for the previous tax year (January 1 to December 31). If you work during two separate calendar years, you will need to file an income tax return for both years, even if you only work part of both years.

How to File Your Tax Return
AHA is not qualified or authorized to provide tax advice. However, we recommend Sprintax, a software that offers expert tax assistance. Sprintax is the only compliant self-preparation software for Non-Residents at this time.

Or you can file the tax return on your own by following these steps:

  • Upon receiving your W-2 Form, fill out a 1040NR-EZ (Non-Resident Aliens with No Dependents) tax form.
  • Make sure to review the Instructions for Form 1040NR-EZ to avoid any mistakes.
  • If the total amount of money withheld from your paychecks was more than you were required to pay the government, they will issue you a check. However, if the amount withheld from your pay was less than required, you must pay the government the amount of tax you still owe.
  • Your tax paperwork must be received by the IRS on or before April 15th of the year following the year when you earned the wages.
  • Once you have completed the form, mail them to the address on the 1040NR-EZ instructions.

Note: In addition to Federal tax withholdings, most states also require that additional taxes be paid to the state. There are separate forms for state and local taxes. The forms and requirements are different for each state. Your employer should be able to help you locate the necessary forms online.

Additional Resources:
AHA is not qualified or authorized to provide tax advice. You may contact the IRS directly. You may also contact a tax provider who could assist you with your individual situation, typically for a flat fee or a percentage of your tax refund. Make sure you tell them beforehand that you are a J-1 participant (non-resident alien) and be mindful of any fees they may charge. You are also encouraged to use the following resources as you plan to file your taxes:

Current participants, employers and partners of AHA have exclusive access to AHA’s portal containing the resources and support needed to have both a life changing cultural exchange program and to succeed before, during and after the program.

As an AHA participant, you are automatically enrolled into AHA's online global community, World Campus and have the option to earn the Hospitality Professional Certificate, "HPC". The Hospitality Professional Course, which consists of online seminar and coursework, emphasizes the development of both professional and personal leadership traits needed to be successful in the hospitality industry and to live and work in a globally interdependent and cultural diverse world. AHA's certificate programs draw upon the knowledge, skills, resources and passion of the entire AHA community and are recognized by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education.

International Participants

Accident and sickness insurance is included in your program fee and is required for all participants. This insurance meets all U.S. Department of State requirements and will be in place for the program dates outlined on your DS-2019 form.

Insurance Provider Link

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