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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.