Are you looking to advance your career abroad? Are you considering completing a USA internship? If you answered yes, your next step is to take action. Where do you start? Here are our top 4 things you need to know before going abroad to start a USA internship.
1. DS-2019 Form
To get to the US, you need a visa. So why is this number one? Before you can even make an appointment at the embassy to apply, you need to have a DS-2019 form. Even Canadian citizens, who do not need to separately apply for a US visa at an embassy, need a DS-2019 form.
What is a DS-2019 form and how do you get one?
A DS-2019 form is also known as the Certificate of Eligibility. It is a printout of some basic information held in your immigration record that is related to your internship. This is the document that allows to you apply for a visa. It is also a very expensive piece of paper.
Getting a DS-2019 form means you have to go through a Department of State designated organization. If you are not sure what a sponsor is, we take a more in depth look at that here. You must submit an application detailing your qualifications, your internship plan, your host organization, and other information. The sponsor reviews this, and determines if you and the company you are going to in the US meet their criteria for approval. If you are approved, you are sent your DS-2019 form. Click here to search the list of official Department of State sponsors.
2. A USA Internship Visa
If you want to do things right, you will need the appropriate visa. There are many types of visas to the US including the J, B, H, L, O, F and M visas. To make things more confusing, some visas have more than one type. For example the J-1 visa has a dozen different types, or categories, to choose from. There is even some overlap between different visas and visa categories.
With so many options, which visa do you apply for?
Fortunately, there is a type of visa specifically for internships. It’s called the J-1 Internship Visa. This visa is for current students and recent graduates, who plan on doing a USA internship related to their studies. If you graduated more than a year ago, or did not go to university there is another option: The J-1 Trainee visa. It is also for career training like internships, but emphasizes professional experience over academic education to qualify for it.
Special note for Canadian citizens: As mentioned earlier, you do not have to apply for a visa separately at an embassy or consulate like most everyone else. This saves you heaps of time, but you still need a DS-2019 form, and you need to enter the US on a J-1 visa status.
3. Health Insurance
You are required to have health insurance that meets or exceeds very specific requirements. Because of these strict requirements, many sponsors only allow you to use an insurance provider they have already approved. In this case, the cost of travel insurance is included in their fee or listed as a mandatory addition.
To many people outside of the US however, having comprehensive health insurance is common. There are a number of countries that have very high quality insurance. So if you already have your own insurance, this means you are paying for it twice.
So what can you do about it?
No matter how great you think your insurance is, you need to read through the requirements and compare it to what your coverage offers. Better yet, send the requirements to your insurance provider. They will be more familiar with the terms, and may even have encountered the same requirements before.
Your insurance must prove that it meets 100% of the requirements. You will need to show some type of proof of this to your sponsor. Without this proof, even if you have the best insurance in the world, you will still have to pay for additional insurance.
If you have the money to spare, paying for insurance coverage twice may not matter much to you. But if you are on a budget, take the time early on to review the requirements. This small step will save you a lot of time and frustration.
4. Proof you have plans to leave the US
Sound familiar? Even as a tourist, most countries will want to see your flight back home, an onward ticket, or enough money to purchase a ticket later. The J-1 Visa to the US has this same requirement, but it is more strict than a simple tourist visa.
So how is the requirement different for a USA internship visa?
First, you have to convince your sponsor that you do not plan to stay in the US forever. Second, you have to complete an extensive visa application called the DS-160. In the application, they ask you about your plans after your visa is over. Finally, you have to pass your interview at the embassy or consulate and be able to demonstrate you plan to leave the US after your program is over.
What proof can you show you plan to leave the US?
There is unfortunately no single answer to this question as it largely depends on each persons specific circumstances. Sponsors will have different requirements, and their employees may interpret them differently. The same can also be true with embassy officials and their employees. Your friend may have someone very strict and ask to see lots of paperwork. You may only be asked a few simple questions.
Here are some ideas to get you thinking about what proof you can show in your situation:
- If you are still a student, you can show you still have time left in your studies.
- If you are a government official back home, you may have a binding contract to return to your employment at the end of your program.
- Other types of employment or internship offers outside of the US.
- Property (such as a lease on an apartment, home ownership), large items such as a vehicle, or other physical and costly items you do not plan to abandon.
- Strong social ties outside of the US. This can be leadership positions in community groups, immediate family or other connections you can demonstrate are important in your life.
Stay up to date
Be prepared for your USA internship with the expert resources put together by Internship Saver. For more like this, subscribe below (or click here on mobile) and check out our section on getting to the US.