For today’s American Culture and History lesson, we’re going to learn How to Get an Internship in the U.S..

On a yearly basis over 300 thousand exchange visitors come to the United States from over 200 different countries.

What does that even mean?

Exchange Visitor – that can refer to anyone coming into the United States on a J-1 visa which is a non-immigrant visa. Right? So that can be an au pair – I mentioned before – teacher, a research assistant, short-term students, university students, interns, trainees. In fact, there are 17 different categories and it’s worth taking a look at if you go to the Department of State website.

Having spent two years in a company processing J-1 visas specifically for foreigners coming to the United States on internships and traineeships, I feel very comfortable talking about this topic and that’s why I would like to share with you why and how this program is set up the way it is. I also would like to help you decide whether or not you can do it.

So, just a disclaimer I don’t work for the Department of State nor a J-1 visa sponsor any longer. The information I’m providing is based on my own experience and the updated information I’ve read on the Department of State’s website. So this information is also available for you. . .

Image from the movie The Internship

Tips on How To Get A J-1 Visa

Get an internship first.

Ask your employer if they’ve ever hosted an international intern. If they have, they likely already have a designated visa sponsor and the process will be fairly straightforward (although not cheap!). 

IF the company is very small (less than 10 employees), find a visa sponsor first and inquire whether it will be possible to do an internship at the company of your choice since the U.S. Department of State regulates the ratio of domestic employees to international ones.

Get more information on the Exchange Visitor Program.