As a sponsor IENA, we will always keep you up to date on all J-1 visa regulations.
The regulations regarding the cultural component are very clear that they applicants must not only receive work based cultural exposure, but also partake in activities that introduces American culture and history outside the work place (on time off).
Some examples and suggestions provided by the Department of State are visits to national parks, historic or government sites, scenic areas, museums, local sporting events, participating in meals with Americans, local community events and nature outings.
Here is what the regulations currently say:
(1) Offer or make available to exchange visitors a variety or appropriate cross-cultural activities…Department of State encourages sponsors to give their exchange visitors the broadest exposure to American society, culture and institutions; and (2) Encourage exchange visitors to voluntarily participate in activities which are for the purpose of sharing the language, culture, or history of their home country with Americans,…”
What is American Culture?
Keep in mind that American Culture is a vast, diverse melting pot which differs from state to state. Many of our participants even comment that visiting some states are like visiting totally different countries!
A visit to Wal Mart is certainly an immersion into American culture and there is nothing more American than taking in a baseball game.
If you need any guidance or ideas for cultural exchange for your staff, contact us!