America and Visa's

I graduate here in the UK this year and would like to spend some time abroad working\ interning. My question is does anyone have any experience with obtaining a visa to the US?

I have an uncle who is a US citizen will this assist in my application.

I will be mainly applying for internships.

If anyone is able to shed some light that would be great thanks.

From people that I’ve spoke to that have gone over for an internship from the UK it was hassle free. There’s a specific visa you apply for for an internship, if you can give them the date you start and finish it doesn’t seem like it’s that bad.
I forget the name of the visa though, but it wasn’t too hard to find after a few google searches.

It’s just a J1 visa, but your time in the states is dictated by what is called the DS-2019, which needs to be processed by a ‘program sponser’(this is not the company/firm you would be working for). So, if your internship is for 4 months, you’re only officially allowed into the US 15 days before your internship begins, and 30 days after.

It’s relatively hassle free, the only pain is the time it takes (8-10 weeks) and the amount stuff you have to supply the Embassy with. Sketchme, your uncle will make no difference in the process at all unfortunately.

" I’m a student on holiday" works well. just get it under the table. :wink:

Many thanks for this, i had done a bit of digging into the JI visa and it does seem realtively hassle free only thing that is stumping me is the program sponsor part, not to sure on that but will continue to have a look into it.

Does having a relative affect getting a ‘proper via’ like it does over here in the UK? I hae noticed that it seems you have to have 7 years experience in your field of work before you can be allowed into the states to work, is this true?

maybe you could marry a hooker and get a green card? :slight_smile:


US firms use J-1’s for interns as it’s easier for them to rationalise keeping you on as a full-time employee should things work out (ie “yeah, he’s interned here for 3/4/5 months and we think he’s vital to our team, blahblahblah”).

Basically, you need a program sponser to generate a document for you (DS-2019) - this document essentially states that you have been offered an internship, it shows the firm you are going to work for, the dates etc. The reason you need this form is because you need to go to the US Embassy and have an ‘interview’ (your program sponser should organise the interview for you), and the DS-2019 is a required document in the interview.

As for actual program sponsers -CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange). CIEE generate the DS-2019, and they have representatives everywhere - in the UK their rep is IST ( So if you get offered an Internship in the states, you then contact these guys ASAP and they’ll guide you through the process. It takes time though, as you can’t do anything until you have the ‘DS-7002’ from the firm you are going to work at in the states, which is a form (1 of many!) which is required for your application for your DS-2019. Confused much?

Does having a relative affect getting a ‘proper via’ like it does over here in the UK? I hae noticed that it seems you have to have 7 years experience in your field of work before you can be allowed into the states to work, is this true?

Can’t answer that, really not too sure - I think you’d need to call the US embassy to ask them - but I don’t see why having a relative in the US should make any difference to you.

Many thanks again Georgeous, it’s also definately clarified that despite the job listings say need work visa allready sorted actually you really need to get a job offer sorted first.

Again many thanks, i’ll spend some time and really delve into this.

No, that’s wrong - Either I said something wrong or you misinterpreted something I said… sorry, let me reitterate it…

The J-1 is ONLY for Internships/training as it’s essentially a temporary visa, so you can only really apply to firms who are looking for interns - you can’t apply for full-time positions you mentioned as you don’t/won’t have the appropriate Visa (I think it’s a H-1/H-2 or something), but in order to get the H-1/H-2 you need to have a company who will ‘sponser’ you - basically the firm you work for will have to make a financial contribution of some sort in order for you to receive that visa, and let’s point out the obvious - who would go through spending time/money on someone who they are not sure will actually work out?

Soooo… the reason for the J-1 is to give people the opportunity to go over and intern, and if things work out and you play nice etc., then there is obviosuly a chance that the firm you work at might either extend your internship (this requires you to extend the dates on your DS-2019 which I previously mentioned - at a fee by the way!) to have you around for longer, or they might go through the process of getting you a full-time visa (again, the H-1/H-2 or something).

So, in conclusion, J-1 is like a visa that gives you the opportunity to show your worth to a firm! Savvy?

It is important to note though, you can not be paid on a J-1 visa. So Gorgeous is referring to unpaid internships.

All interns that I know, that came over from Europe, just stayed on a tourist visa (3 month), just as Simon suggested already. Smaller studios will definitely not care.

getting a job in the US if you are not a citizen is extremely difficult. Especially because the firm has to sponsor you financially. I am convinced, it is this way so that jobs are not taken away from the American workforce.

Yes you can be paid while on a J-1, it’s up to the company whether they pay you or not, and they have to indicate whether or not they pay you when they fill out their ‘internship plan’ (DS-7002). If you’re not paid/ or are paid less than $750pcm you have to prove to the US embassy you have sufficient funds in place to fund your time in the states (I suppose to stop people working in ‘cash-in-hand’ jobs).

I’m sure there are lots of people who go over on Visa waifer programme (ie 90 days is the longest legal amount of time you are allowed in the US without a visa-like Bepster said) and intern for free, but if it’s over 90 days they either need a visa or need to leave and re-enter the country.

oh, I did not know that you are able to earn money while on a J-1 visa.
I though you would need a SN in order to get paid.

Sorry, yeah, I should have explained that further…

Your ‘program sponsor’ (CIEE rep) will provide you with a ‘letter to social security officer’ and other formal thingies like that, so you just go to your nearest social security office and make an appointment to get a social security number, and once that’s all done you can go and open a bank account etc. You’ll be expemt from paying certain taxes as well as you’re temporary.

Ah, interesting,

I am an international student from Europe. I study in NYC and have the F-1 visa.
Since I got hired at my school for work study, I had to go and get a SN. So now, as far as I am aware, I can only work for my school and not more that 20 hours a week.

Do you know by any chance if I would be able get paid for an internship while I have the F-1 visa?
Or does that only work with a J-1?
This would be great to know, since I got offered several paid internships. I always turned them down since I thought, I there was no way…

I wouldn’t be certain, so don’t take my word for it but as far as I know the J-1 is the only visa that is for internships - the program sponser who books the ‘interview’ at the US embassy books for J-1 interview - also, I’d imagine (again, don’t take my word for it!) if you intended to get a J-1 you’d actually have to leave the states and go back to Europe and start the process of getting a J-1.

If you want definite answers though, I’d suggest getting in contact with CIEE, just explain your circumstances and see what they say:

A J-1 is dependent on you being a student, or doing some kind of academic research that you’ll conclude at the end of your J-1 spell. They’re easy to apply for from Europe if you have a sponsor or some kind of job lined up.

Of course you can get paid on a J-1. You’ll need a social security number too.

(I’ve had three J-1 visas. Two for doing casual work in the US while I was a student in Europe, my third J-1 was a bridge between my second H-1 visa and a Green Card and was petitioned by a new employer. They argued that my job was “research”)

you CAN work with an F1 visa under what is called OPT (optional practical training). It is up to a year, and you may take it after you graduate but the final date should be before your visa expires. You need to get an employment permit, you can do all this at your university international student office. just go in and ask, they should be able to give you all the info.