Visa J1 internship USA : what is the procedure

After graduating from high school or even as a young professional, it is possible to go to the United States for a maximum of 18 months and gain new professional experience. For this type of stay in the United States, the most suitable USA visa is called the J1 visa and offers different programs.

To give you the best chance, in this article, we will focus on the USA internship visa by presenting the particularities and conditions of the J1 visa.

Presentation of the J1 visa for an internship in the USA

Many students dream of doing an international internship in the US to experience a professional adventure and finish their studies with new skills to put on their resume. Indeed, finding an internship abroad is more and more recognized and valued by recruiters, especially for language skills, but also for the openness to a culture different from their own.

To do an internship in the United States, for a Volontariat International en Entreprise or to study in the United States at an American university or high school. You need a J1 American visa.

The USA internship visa is a non-immigrant visa, i.e. for short stays. For permanent residence and therefore to live in the USA, there are immigrant visas or the Green Card which is a permanent resident card.

J1 visa internship USA
J1 American visa for an internship in the USA

The internship visa USA has several categories:

The J1 Trainee visa

The Trainee visa is for graduates of more than one year and professionals with a university degree, professional certificate or work experience. The purpose of this visa is to familiarize you with American culture and to receive training related to your field of expertise. It is valid for a period of 1 to 18 months.

The J1 Intern visa

It is for international college students or recent graduates (less than one year old) who wish to gain exposure to American culture by completing an internship in the same field as their studies. It is valid for a period of 1 to 12 months.

In this article, we are mainly concerned with internships in the US, however, it is possible to go to the US without being an intern. Thanks to other J1 visas, professionals or students can travel to the USA for several reasons: an au pair stay, a seasonal job, to study in the USA in an American university, to do a language stay, to be a teacher or researcher, etc.

Please note: obtaining a J1 visa allows you to obtain your social security number and the possibility of obtaining the equivalence of your driver’s license.

If you wish to do your internship or training with your spouse or a family member, this request is perfectly feasible, provided you obtain a J2 visa.

Obtaining the J1 visa

Before making an appointment at the American embassy for your visa, you should know that the J1 visa is obtained through a sponsoring organization.

How do I find a sponsoring organization?

All students wishing to find a company and obtain student internship offers in the United States must use a sponsor. Indeed, the function of the sponsoring organizations is to validate your internship in order to apply for a J1 visa later.

In summary, this is a crucial step to start the process of internship visa in the USA.

The sponsoring organization will take care of all the steps to validate your internship in the USA, in order to issue you the DS-2019 form or the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor J1 Status. This is a legal and nominative document that gives you access to the J1 visa at the US Embassy.

Many sponsors are accredited by the U.S. government. To discover the official sponsors, we advise you to visit the official website of the J1 visa:

In order to avoid any problems, it is preferable to take the necessary steps in advance to find a sponsor and to obtain the internship visa USA.

Finally, note that the service of a sponsoring organization has a cost. To give you an idea, count on fees of at least 650 € for a one-month internship, 950 € for a six-month internship and more than 1200 € for a one-year internship. The cost may vary depending on the sponsor chosen and the length of your internship.

We advise you to choose your sponsor from the list of organizations approved by the U.S. government, because choosing a non-approved sponsor means taking the risk of wasting time and money without even, sometimes, obtaining the J1 visa.

The constitution of the J1 visa file for the American embassy

Your sponsor is responsible for preparing your visa application to the U.S. Embassy.

It is important to prepare for your appointment in advance, as the interview may be conducted in English so that the agent can judge your language level.

Your file must include the following:

  • The 2019 DS from your sponsoring organization attesting to your participation in the exchange program;
  • DS 7002 for Trainee and Intern visas, which serves as a work placement agreement;
  • a recent 5×5 cm passport photo in color and on a white background;
  • receipt of payment of the mandatory SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) registration fee. Some embassies receive payment at the time of the interview;
  • a valid passport ;
  • proof of sufficient financial resources to support the exchange;
  • proof of attachment to France or proof of intention to leave the U.S. at the end of the program.

If your application is accepted, the trip to the USA is yours.

The consular officer will keep your passport in order to add the visa. Your passport will be delivered to you within 48 hours after your interview.

The J1 visa is not an authorization to enter the United States of America, just like an ESTA application, only the American authorities make the final decision to let you enter the United States.