Where will you be next summer? Next winter? Ideally, not sitting in your bedroom attending online classes. As vaccination numbers increase, borders are opening to visitors. People are preparing to get out of the house once again. This means that students like you who’ve been confined to bedrooms and university campuses will once again have the chance to explore the world. What better way to do this than with a J-1 visa internship?

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • The pandemic’s impact on international college students
  • How a J-1 internship can set you up for professional success 
  • How the pandemic currently affects travel to the U.S.
  • What the J-1 visa internship program is 
  • How to find a great opportunity and host company
  • How applying for a J-1 internship works
  • The assistance Global Internships offers interns as a sponsor

If you have the itch to explore and the motivation to do it, then you’re in the right place. At Global Internships, we’re committed to connecting people with new adventures that will enrich them both personally and professionally. 

woman in gray dress resting her hands on white table
Image source: Sean Kong

Pandemic Pauses J-1 Internships and Careers

Unfortunately, many have struggled to access these enriching experiences throughout the pandemic. COVID-19 significantly impacted the career goals of university students.

Pandemic Impact in College Students

In 2020, researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Michigan surveyed 1,500 students at Arizona State University. Their results, published in an article in the Journal of Public Economics, reflected the negative impact of the pandemic. “Due to COVID-19: 13% of students have delayed graduation, 40% have lost a job, internship, or job offer, and 29% expect to earn less at age 35,” they wrote. 

It’s important to recognize that these statistics are not one-size-fits-all. Many variables impact students’ success rates. For example, the study found that lower income students were 55% more likely to delay their graduation date than higher income students. 

In other words, the pandemic has deepened the privilege divide between students.

The above statistics can be overwhelming. However, you can create your own path. Internships are one tried and true method to bridge the gap to meaningful employment.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers investigated how internships impact post-graduate outcomes for liberal arts students, using data from one colleges classes 2013, 2014 and 2015. 

Their report indicated that completing internships during an undergraduate degree increases the chances of being meaningful employed six months after graduation for students who seek employment.

Pandemic Impact in Hiring Internationally

On the other hand, many employers have been hiring international students including:

  • Accenture
  • Accenture
  • Capital One
  • Cisco Systems
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • IBM Corporation
  • Intel
  • JP Morgan
  • LinkedIn
  • And many more

If you’re a company looking to hire internationally, we can help. We provide ongoing support and visa sponsorship throughout the program for both international college students and recent grads. 

If you’re interested in virtual internships, note that they don’t require a J-1 visa because international travel isn’t necessary. This means you can continue building a diverse intern program.

Vaccinations Allow For Travel

Many countries suspended travel during the pandemic. The U.S. was one of these countries, barring entrants from 33 countries including India, South Africa, and nations in the E.U.

However, as vaccination rates increase, borders continue to open to visitors. Soon, vaccinated travelers who hold citizenship abroad will be able to fly to the U.S. as the country eases travel restrictions.

What does this mean for you? A chance to consider pursuing opportunities abroad. What does this mean for companies hiring internationally? They can continue to hire diverse talent internationally.

As of October 2021, the Mayo Clinic reported that 56.6% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, and 65.5% of this population has received at least one vaccination dose. The target is to get 80-100% of the U.S. population fully vaccinated. 

In the meantime, travellers who are fully vaccinated are eligible to enter the country. This eligibility extends to vaccines that are approved by U.S. organizations or the World Health Organization.

Are you fully vaccinated? Are you ready to embark on a new, professionally-enriching adventure? Then you are likely an awesome candidate for the J-1 internship program.

What Are J-1 Visa Internships?

If you’re not familiar with the program, we’ll help you out. J-1 internships form part of about a dozen Exchange Visitor Programs. The initiative was originally created to foster understanding between the United States and other countries. It includes 15 different programs. Visitors may come to the U.S. to be:

  • Au pairs
  • Camp counselors
  • Government visitors
  • Department of State visitors
  • Physicians
  • Professors
  • Research scholars
  • Short term scholars
  • Specialists
  • Secondary students
  • Summer work travellers
  • Teachers
  • Trainees
  • Interns

The J-1 internship program attracts many college students and recent graduates. The program offers huge opportunities. Students can connect with host companies in their desired field and apply for available internships on their own. J-1 interns may work in fields ranging from arts & culture to public administration to engineering.

J-1 internships are paid. To ensure that students from around the world can gain vital professional experience in the United States, J-1 visa interns receive wages comparable to their U.S. counterparts employed in similar positions.

During internships, students will learn about their preferred field from the inside, as well as experience U.S. culture. For example, host companies may invite J-1 visa interns to participate in their Halloween office party or attend a company baseball game outing.  

While the length of specific internships vary, interns can stay in the U.S. for up to 12 months. 

Getting Ready to Go Abroad

Before the clock starts running on your internship, you’ll need to do a few things: 

That short list encompasses many documents and tasks. Luckily, we’ve been helping people complete meaningful opportunities in the U.S. for decades. Let’s walk through the details of each step:

  1. How to find a J-1 internship
  2. How to find a J-1 Visa sponsor
  3. How to apply for a J-1 visa
  4. How to ace your interview
  5. How to get ready to go abroad

How To Find a J-1 Internship

First things first: how can you find the best internships? 

The process is likely similar to finding an internship in your own country. The key difference is that J-1 internship employers must be approved as host companies. Rather than narrowing your options, this ensures you will work for an organization with experience hosting Exchange Visitors.

J-1 visa employer requirements include:

  • Providing eligible programs. J-1 visa Interns will not do unskilled labor, provide child, elder, or patient care, nor work in the field of aviation.
  • Creating meaningful opportunities. Internships should include no more than 20% clerical work.
  • Running at least eight rotations for internships in the field of hospitality and tourism.
  • Possessing the proper resources, personnel, and equipment, and making these available to interns. 

Some students feel confident in their ability to find a J-1 internship opportunity on their own. This may be the case for you if: 

  • you’ve had an internship in the past and know where to find openings 

OR

  • if you have a connection to a host company through a mentor or friend

If those aren’t true for you, fear not. Consider reaching out to your university’s career center. These offices often have experience connecting students to internships abroad. They can provide you with the names of career websites. They may also offer help polishing your resume and cover letters.

Another option for finding your dream internship is working with us.

We work directly with host companies to compile an amazing database of open internships. You can search for these opportunities on our site. Currently, we have listings for roles including:

  • Sales assistant
  • Business development trainee
  • Accounting training
  • Human resources training
  • Food and beverage internship

Feel free to look through these opportunities on your own. You can also contact us at your local Intrax office. When you share details about your interests with us we can provide you with the most accurate information for your circumstances.

How to Find a J-1 Visa Sponsor

If you’re wondering what J-1 visa sponsors are, we’re here to clear things up.

Sponsors are different from host companies. They are organizations approved by the U.S. government to sponsor J-1 visas for people participating in Exchange Visitor Programs. These sponsors are experts in the visa process and will help you every step of the way.

They will also work with you to secure the proper insurance coverage and evaluate your English proficiency, all in an effort to get you ready for life in the U.S. 

Once you arrive in the country, sponsors will be available to provide support if needed. Sponsors periodically check in with Exchange Visitors to ensure they’re successfully completing their internship.

We’re a U.S.-approved J-1 visa sponsor. This means–though you’re welcome to do more research–your search for a 2022 sponsor could end here. 

If you’re an employer, you’re probably wondering how we can make things easy for you. Here are some of our program benefits:

  1. We’re fast! Once you’ve completed your necessary steps, we’ll get the DS-2019 (an important document) to you within four weeks.
  2. Our process is easy. With us, you can submit all your documents online and correspond with us virtually.
  3. Our service is affordable. We will charge you based on the length of your program. There are no extra fees if you arrive early or stay late.
  4. We’re friendly! Connecting people to enriching opportunities is our passion. We’ll be sure to help both you and your host company complete all necessary documents.
  5. We are reliable. We’ve been doing this since 2003. We know what we’re doing, and we do it well. We’d love to use our expertise to help you.

The main takeaway? We’ve been helping students secure visas for a long time. We’re good at it. We’d be happy to help you.

If you are ready to get started working with us, the first step is to request information about the programs you are interested in. 

How to Apply For a J-1 Visa

Once you’re connected with a sponsor, it’s time to start the application process. This means you will be filling out a few documents and communicating with your sponsor and host company. So long as you stay organized, the process should be quite straightforward.

Let’s walk through the J-1 visa documents you’ll need. 

First, you’ll need to fill out an online application for us. This will include submitting a few documents and paying your program fees. J-1 visa costs include a USD $160 application fee, as well as a USD $220 SEVIS fee.

Once that’s done, you’ll move on to the online DS-2019 application. You’ll want to know the contact information of your host company and the program start and end dates in order to successfully complete this application.

After we approve your application, we’ll send your host company an agreement to sign. You and your host company will also need to collaborate to create an internship placement plan (document DS-7002). This form allows you to determine exactly what you will accomplish during your internship. 

We will also ask you to submit copies of your:

  • English test results
  • Diploma or proof of enrollment
  • Resume
  • Passport

After all that’s done, it’s time to make sure there are no remaining program fees. We will also check in with your host company to confirm that you will be completing an internship with them.

Next, we’ll get your DS-2019 to you as soon as possible. Once you have this document in hand, you can attend a J-1 visa interview.

How to Ace Your Interview

J-1 visa interviews are an important step in the application process. They allow officials at your local U.S. embassy or consulate to determine if you are prepared to travel to the United States. They also help officials ensure your intentions are to visit, not to immigrate. 

Keep these two objectives in mind while preparing for your interview. 

The types of questions interviewers may ask you fall into four categories:

  • Educational questions
  • Internship questions
  • Personal and financial questions
  • Future plans questions

We recommend taking some time to write out possible answers to these questions, and then practice them aloud. The interview will be in English, so talking through your answers aloud will also help you brush up on your language skills.

Educational questions cover topics like what you study, where you go to school, and your grade point average. Answer honestly. If an external factor has put a strain on your marks, be prepared to explain that. The interviewer’s goal with these questions is simply to evaluate if you are ready for the program.

Internship question will be about your Exchange Visitor Program of choice. You should be ready to describe important program information, like the number of hours you will work each week and the compensation you’ll receive. Please read through your DS-7002 to remember all this information. Your interviewer will also ask why you want to go to the U.S. for this program. Be sure to have a quality answer ready. This shows that you are excited about your program and that your intentions are to complete it and then return home, not to immigrate. 

Personal and financial questions as well as future plans questions are useful tools for demonstrating ties to your home country. They also help interviewers ensure that you will be able to afford living costs during your program. When answering these questions, it can be valuable to focus on how your J-1 visa internship will prepare you for a career in your home country. Essentially, you want to emphasize that your long-term plans are not to settle in the U.S. You can also express that you are looking forward to the cultural exchange your internship will facilitate.

man standing inside airport looking at LED flight schedule bulletin board
Image source: Anete Lūsiņa

How to Get Ready to Go Abroad

J-1 visa processing times vary. Some embassies will get you a visa foil for your passport right at the end of your interview. Others will mail it to you within a timeframe of a few days to a couple of weeks. 

While you wait, there’s plenty to do! 

If your internship is beginning soon, it’s time to start packing. Be sure to research the weather in the area you are traveling to. The attire you’ll need depends on whether you are traveling to the U.S. in the summer or the winter.

Take into account the flight you booked. How many bags can you check and carry-on? Many people find it worthwhile to weigh their packed suitcases at home, so they can be sure they will not exceed the weight limit. 

You may have questions about life in the U.S. that you want answered before your plane touches down. We’re happy to answer them. As a J-1 internship sponsor, it’s our job to help you successfully complete a program abroad.

Get Ready for Your 2022 J-1 Internship

Whether you’re a student or an employer interested in the program, reach out with any questions or concerns. We can help!

Our goal is to provide a lifetime of high-quality educational work programs for both students and companies. We believe these work programs make us better citizens of the world.

We understand that the past year and a half has stalled many college careers and internships. Getting everyone back on track is our goal.

J-1 internships are an incredibly enriching opportunity. Interns get to learn as they go in the field of their choice. They get to build friendships and make professional connections abroad. They have the opportunity to share their own culture and learn about cultures in the U.S. 

It’s truly a winning program. If you’re ready to start the application process, you can do that here. We’re happy to have you on board!

Posted 
Oct 14, 2021
 in 
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