How To Get Visa For Paid Internship In The USA

How To Get Visa For Paid Internship In The USA

Internships are for the most part, the final year work of university graduates because the medium provides on-the-job experience (paid Internship) and training and also fantastic career chances. While it is clear that internships are good when starting out your career because of the knowledge that would be acquired, paid internships are very important because they can also provide for some of your basic needs as the costs of living in the U.S can grow quickly and become a burden on students. Many leave their country with a very limited budget. Paid internships can help such students earn money, while also providing learning experience on the job.

Internships vary, it can be paid or unpaid. Unpaid internships provide priceless on-the-job learning experiences but don’t include the regular payments while training as an intern at a particular company. Paid internships are good in terms of being able to earn money, and gain priceless experience, but paid internships are often rare and more difficult to find than unpaid internships. 

To save internship-seekers some valuable time, this article will shed more light on how to get a visa for a paid internship in the U.S, and some provide valuable information on how to go about the internship program abroad.

Also Read: New Zealand Students Visa Application Materials

Is it hard for an international student to get an internship in the United States?

It depends on different factors, which includes;

  • What industry you are targeting.
  • What role and company you are targeting.
  • The length of your training
  • If your intention is to use the internship program as a route to a full-time job offer and sponsorship.
  • What visa option you are on

Understanding Visa Options for undertaking an internship in the U.S

If you are moving to the United States for the sole purpose of undertaking an internship, you  are probably going to come into the U.S on a J-1 visa. However, if you are studying as an international student in the U.S already, there’s a chance you are already on the F-1 visa option. They are both suitable for undertaking an internship, but they both serve different purposes and also the kind of internships you partake in.

F1 Visa Students

If you are studying in the U.S on an F-1 visa, you can likely take part in an internship on your campus or an unpaid internship without having to go through the stress of filling out some additional paperwork.

There are two options if you want to undertake an internship off-campus: They include, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

CPT internships must be related to the student’s degree. For CPT, students must have been through with their first year at the university, and they must apply for clearance on their student visa before they can begin their internship in any company or organization.

OPT internships process is a bit more difficult than CPT. The internship program does not necessarily need to be directly related to the student’s degree and can be undertaken while still in school or after graduation.

J-1 Visa Students

The J-1 visa in the U.S is for people who want to partake in a work and study based intern program and visitor programs in the U.S. If you are not studying in the U.S but want to run your internship program there, the J-1 Intern visa is most likely what you would need. If you are in the United States on a J-1 visa, you can take part in up to 18 months of Academic Training, which can be carried out during or post the student’s academic program, and the internship program they are undertaking must be directly related to the student’s degree or field of study.

The purpose of the J-1 Intern program is to give foreign students and graduates the opportunity and room to develop and improve their skills while getting more experience in the US business practice and culture. Many internships are paid.

Entry Requirements To Obtain A J-1 Visa

J-1 visa applicants must qualify for either the intern or trainee program. Intern refers to prospective applicants who are schooling in a university or post-graduates no later than 12 months after graduation. Trainees, on the other hand, must have completed vocational training and must have acquired 1 year of work experience or 5 years of professional experience.

Also, the prospective intern or trainee needs to make known, any previous training or experience acquired somewhere else in order to prevent a situation where the intern performs support work or pursues ordinary employment tasks. J-1 visa applicants must be proficient in the English language, which must be demonstrated during the application process by participating in a telephone interview or taking a language test.

The host company in the U.S also must also meet certain standards and requirements and also compile a dossier.

Visa Prices

The costs for obtaining a visa for an internship in the United States are dependent on the length of your stay in the country. 

How can international students get internships in the USA?

Make plans way before you need the intern/job.

That includes:

Read More: Visa Application Process for Studying in New Zealand

  • Know what kind of job you want. Do thorough research on the company you want to apply for, and are also clear about your goals. 
  • Have at least 6-8 target companies that do the kind of work that you will like to apply for.
  • Keep a good GPA.
  • Tailor your resume according to the requirements.
  • Learn to speak up (make conversations with random people) – improving your conversation skills will take you a long way. This will come in handy especially during a phone or face-to-face interviews.
  • And MOST IMPORTANTLY- Make useful contacts (find current full-time employees who you can get introduced to through mutual connections or cold outreach for a referral), go to career fairs, conferences, meetups (there are plenty happening around you, and you don’t need an introduction, just show up), talk to alumni, professors – basically anyone who you think might be able to get a good word on your behalf. This will often prove invaluable later during the actual job hunt. One good word can open doors for you like no other.


The United States has one of the largest, if not the largest economy and internship opportunities in almost every industry in the world. Carrying out your internship program in the United States will not only offer you a good business network or opportunity and look great on your CV or resume, but it’s also a beautiful country to live in for a few months, or for a whole year!

An internship in the U.S. will offer you the opportunity to build an international network connection, work on your English language proficiency, and expand your skills. Some of the top sectors include technology, healthcare, government, and entertainment.

America is the perfect internship destination for anyone as it caters to every interest and personality, whether you want to gain experience in a particular field or just starting out your career.

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