Can I Apply to Internships in the US?

While International students face some extra challenges, it is possible to land an internship in the US. It's just going to require some extra leg work on your part. 

Steps for international students applying for U.S. Internships:

  • Apply for a Visa. You can search the US DEPARTMENT OF STATE Website by your specific country and find out what type of VISA you need. Each country has different specifications. 
  • There are two types of Visa options for International students interning in the U.S.
    1. J1 Visa: This applies to students enrolled in a university outside of the U.S. who will be coming to the U.S. specifically for the internship only. (Note: under this Visa, there are certain time restrictions -- The National Homeland Security allows International students to come into the United States only 30 days (or less) prior to the start date of the internship. When you make your travel plans keep this timeframe in mind. If this is a problem, there are several additional “special” permits students can apply for on the US Department of State Website. 
    2. F1 Visa: This applies to international students already attending a U.S. university. International students interested in interning are eligible for this Visa 9 months after they have been attending a university in the U.S.
  • 120 Day Notification -- International student VISAS will not be approved or denied until 120 days (or less) before your internship start date. This does cause a bit of a time crunch. Be prepared for this and make sure to determine when that 120 day mark will be.
  • Make sure your passport is up to date or apply for a passport. This can take several months to receive. Give yourself plenty of time.
  • Search for Internships AFTER you have started the process of applying for a visa and updating your passport. Where do you want to work? Do they accept international students? (Note: if a company does not specify, it is still worth applying, but look for companies who welcome international students).
  • Talk to the International Student Office at your Unversity. Come prepared with your list of dream companies and find out if your school can provide you with any type of internship credit or recognition. Speak with your professors and internship coordinator and make sure you are doing everything in your power to help execute the process.

  • Make sure you are aware of the VISA process and what you will need to do to get to the US before getting on the phone with an Employer's internship coordinator for an interview. You want to be knowledgeable about the process you have ahead of you. Most internship coordinators will NOT know how to help you get to the United States. You will have to take the lead on this one, so you can explain to the employer how seamless it will be for them. 
  • Start the process early.  Examples of documents you may need include: school transcript, any standardized testing scores, bank statements from your parents (proving that they can cover your expenses while in the US), etc. Each student will also need to contact the local Embassy about setting up an interview. Everyone must set an interview before their VISA can be fully processed.
  • Other ways to get an internship in the U.S.

    Go through an internship partnering company ( EF: Education First or CIEE). These companies take care of immigration and matching you with an employer in the U.S.. Some cons -- there is not a lot of control over which internship you get, and these roles don't always lead to longer full time jobs. 

    Come to the U.S. in another capacity -- to study, as an au pair, etc. -- and find your own internship through networking and research. 

    PRO TIP: Initiate a research conversation outside of the context of being a candidate for a job -- ask for advice without any obligation to talk about your visa. These relationships can lead to job interviews, as employers already have a relationship with you and are more willing to sponsor a visa. Meet with organizations and people without worrying about who sponsors and who doesn't. 

    Always be honest about needing visa process in your interview.

    For a more detailed overview of what's required to pursue an internship in the US as an international applicant, check out our Q&A with Elke Osadnik, Director of Stateside Careers. 

    Did this answer your question? Thanks for the feedback There was a problem submitting your feedback. Please try again later.

    Still need help? Reach out with any questions Reach out with any questions