Jobs or internships in the USA: select the right J-1 visa!

Dreaming of gaining work experience in the United States? To enter the USA for an internship, a summer job or an au pair stay, you will need to get an exchange visitor visa commonly known as J-1 visa. Currently, one can find every month over 170,000 exchange visitors in the US. There are several different J-1 visa categories: the type of visa you need to request depends on your age, your goal, your level of study or experience. Land a job or an internship in the USA and select the right J-1 visa!

J-1 visa categories

Are you aiming to complete an internship in a Silicon Valley engineering company? What if you secured a summer job in Florida and explored the United States? Are you eager to discover the American way of life during an au pair stay? Each J-1 visa category is designed for specific purposes. In all cases, having sufficient English language skills is compulsory.

Internship or training: J-1 Intern or Trainee visas

Who are these visas for?

You can request a J-1 Intern visa if:

  • you are at least 18 years old,
  • you have graduated from a higher education institution within the previous 12 months or your are a student.

You can request a J-1 Trainee visa if:

  • you are at least 21 years old,
  • you hold a higher education degree and have at least one year of work experience in your occupational field,
  • or you do not have a higher education degree but have at least five years of work experience in your occupational field.

How long can the internship last?

If you hold an Intern visa, your internship in the USA must not last more than 12 months. J-1 Trainee visa holders can complete an internship or receive training for a maximum of 18 months.

Summer job: J-1 Summer Work Travel visa

Who is this visa for?

You can request a J-1 Summer Work Travel visa if:

  • you are at least 18 years old,
  • you are a student and have successfully completed at least one semester of study,
  • you have secured a job prior to departure (unless you are a national of a country taking part in the Visa Waiver Program).

How long can you stay in the US?

If you hold a J-1 Summer Work Travel visa, you may travel and work in the United States for up to 4 months.

Au pair stay: J-1 Au pair visa

Who is this visa for?

You can request a J-1 Au pair visa if:

  • you are between 18 and 26 years old,
  • you hold a secondary school degree,
  • you are in good health,
  • you have been interviewed by the program sponsor or placement agency,
  • you have childcare experience and a clean police record.

How long does an au pair stay last?

J-1 Au pair visa holders stay in the USA for 12 months and can extend the experience for 6, 9 or 12 months.

Getting a J-1 visa

Your phone interviews have been successful: you just found out your application for an internship in Boston has been approved! Are you about to land a summer job? To get any type of J-1 visa, you must follow several steps.

1. Find a sponsor organization or an agency.
The list of designated sponsors is available on the US Department of State J-1 visa website. To make formalities easier, you can also select an agency which has signed an agreement with a sponsor. However, this option is more expensive. Choose your sponsor or agency carefully as fees and conditions vary from one organization to another. For instance, check if the cost of the compulsory international health insurance is included in the fee or if you must apply on your own.

2. Complete the form DS-7002
You should fill out this form only if you wish to complete an internship or take up training in the USA.

3. Get the form DS-2019.
The sponsor organization will provide you with this form. Getting it on your own is not possible.

4. Pay the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) registration fee.
You must complete the SEVIS form I-901 on www.fmjfee.com and pay the registration fee: $180 for the Intern or Trainee categories, $35 if you are taking part in the Summer Work Travel or Au pair programs. In some cases, the sponsor will complete these tasks for you.

5. Complete the online form DS-160
The form DS-160 is the nonimmigrant visa application form. Print out and keep the application confirmation.

6. Pay the visa fee.
The current J-1 visa fee is of $160.

7. Attend an interview at the US embassy or consulate.
During the interview you must explain the purpose of you stay and prove your intention to return to your home country when your exchange visitor program comes to an end.

8. Once you get your J-1 visa, make the most of your American experience!
You can enter the USA at the most 30 days prior to your job or internship start date.

To find out more about J-1 visas:

Take a look at the US Department of State J-1 visa website.

Date of publication Jan 31 2014

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