J1 Visa Program Paves Way for International Exchanges

Valencia Community College has been approved by the U.S. Department of State to accept Exchange Visitors on a J visa. The program enables foreign students, professors, short-term scholars, and others who are already studying or working at an educational institution abroad to gain field experience which complements their academic studies or career.

The Exchange Visitor Program seeks to broaden mutual understanding between U.S. citizens and foreign-born citizens through educational and cultural exchange. In addition, J exchange programs provide participants with a valuable opportunity to learn the language, culture and educational system of a foreign country, thereby developing lasting and meaningful relationships.

Student visitors to Valencia can earn a two-year Associate in Arts (A.A.) or Associate in Science (A.S.) degree, or they can come for short-term academic training field experience. In the academic training program, students can enroll in a six-month certificate course and be placed with a local employer in a position that relates to their major area of study. The program is designed to help students apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to a real-world environment.

Interest from local employers and educators abroad has been growing since Valencia was given approval to accept J visa visitors.

In fact, 74 students from Barbados, Colombia, Ecuador and Honduras began a six-month program starting in late January in a Disney International College Program. Students will take classes at both Valencia and at the Walt Disney World Resort, and will be placed in entry-level positions at one of four theme parks, two water parks, hotels, or other locations that are part of the Walt Disney World Resort. Students work 30 to 37.5 hours per week when Disney Education courses are in session and are paid a competitive hourly wage.

Students who successfully complete the academic training requirements receive a certificate in Business Management from Valencia Community College. The credits earned at Valencia are related to the students’ major.

Foreign visitors are eligible to participate in the J visa program if there is a written agreement between their educational institution and Valencia. They must also meet certain requirements for English proficiency; Valencia offers an Intensive English Program for those whose English does not meet the requirements.

For additional information about the program, please contact Lisa Eli, Director, Continuing and International Education, at 407-582-6649 or leli@valenciacc.edu or visit valenciacc.edu/international.

Employers who are interested in providing field experiences for foreign exchange students can contact Valencia’s Internship and Workforce Services office at 407-582-3220.

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