Why do an internship
We’ve all seen a version of the same Hollywood movie – there’s always an intern. The United States has a strong internship culture, with most industries from finance to food hosting an internal paid or unpaid internship program. US college graduates will also typically do at least one summer or longer-term internship placement before starting work.
In a competitive job landscape, having a USA internship on your CV can help to launch your career. You’ll get world-class training in your chosen field, build a network of valuable contacts, and show future employers you have the motivation to move abroad. Plus, you’ll get to live like a native New Yorker/Angelino/Bostonian/Austinite... (circle when you find your dream internship in your dream location).
How it works
Applying for a J-1 visa to intern in the USA can be complex. We take away the stress, guiding you through the process at every stage. First, you need an internship offer. We'll let you know the exact internship requirements and the types of companies to search for. Once you’ve found your placement, you need a US sponsor. We're long-standing partners with the USA’s largest sponsor, CIEE. The team then take it from here – checking your internship meets the visa criteria, vetting your host company (if required), and starting the process of sponsoring you. Once we have your Certificate of Eligibility (DS2019), we’ll guide you through applying for your J-1 visa – plus support you on the ground during your stay with regular check-ins and 24/7 support.
Who can apply
The Intern USA program isn’t just for students. You’ll need to qualify for one of two J-1 visas – the Intern visa (for current full-time degree level students or graduates from the last 12 months), or the Trainee visa (for non-students with five years’ experience in the field your internship relates to). Check out the eligibility criteria below for more.
About the visa
Like all J-1 visas, intern visas are work and culture visas – which means they're designed for overseas students and professional trainees to experience everything America has to offer. Depending on the length of your placement and visa, you’ll be issued a 1-12 or 1-18 month visa, plus 30 days afterwards to travel around the United States.
We can sponsor passport holders of most nationalities, but you must be eligible for one of the visas below. As well as meeting the below criteria, you must be outside the USA when you apply and hold sufficient support funds.
J-1 Intern visa
- You must be aged 18-38.
- You must be a current full-time degree level student outside of the USA, or have graduated within the last 12 months.
- You must be at least halfway through your degree before beginning your internship.
- Your internship must be related to your academic field of study.
- You must have a 1-12 month internship offer when you apply for your visa.
J-1 Trainee visa
- You must be aged 18-38.
- You must hold a degree plus one year’s work experience in the field you’re interning in. OR you must have five years' work experience in the field you’re interning in. You must provide references to support this.
- Your internship must be related to your past work/study experience.
- You must have a 1-18 month internship offer when you apply for your visa.
All Intern USA program participants must find their own internship. However, our team are on hand to advise you on the placement requirements, and if you’re struggling to find a match, point you in the direction of trusted placement partners who can help. Your internship offer must meet criteria outlined by the US Department of State, including:
- Your internship must be a training position, and not a job.
- It must be a full-time position.
- It mustn’t involve any more than 20% clerical or basic work, or include unskilled labour.
- It must benefit your future career and have a clear training plan.
- It must do work that is additional to the employer's normal staffing requirements.
- Unpaid internships are allowed for up to six months and paid internships up to 12 months (or 18 months on the Trainee visa).
- Unfortunately, internships in medicine, teaching, social work, manual labour or the arts (although Arts Administration is possible) are not possible under this visa program.