Obtaining a visa is not the easiest thing to do, but it is essential if you want to do an internship abroad. Don’t take any risk by taking a tourist visa called ESTA, you risk being refused entry to the U.S. by the immigration officer. There are different steps to follow, take them all into consideration.
Step 1: Find a sponsor and complete the terms and conditions
Having a sponsor is mandatory for an internship abroad. The organization that you select as a sponsor will be responsible for ensuring the validity of your internship in the United States and will take care of all the steps related to this validation, in order to issue you the DS-2019 form that will give you access to the J-1 visa, category “Intern”. He or she will also follow up on your project during your stay in the United States to ensure that it runs smoothly.
There are many sponsors in France who have been accredited by the American government.
However, I advise you to go through a French agency like ‘’Parenthèse’’ who will take care of everything and will even insure your health expenses once you are there with the partner medical centers.
You and your employer will be redirected to an online platform where you will have to fill out a number of forms.
You will have to fill in the necessary information about your current university as well as your personal information (empty criminal record, consumption of illegal drugs or medicines,…).
At the same time, your employer will have to inform you about the status of the company, the tasks that will be assigned to you, and the reason why he wants to take on a foreigner. It is quite tedious, so be calm to fill all this out and concentrate.
Step 2: Apply for the J-1 visa
The J-1 visa offers different programs for pupils, students, and professionals.
U.S. authorities require that you be in possession of a J-1 visa, category “Intern”. This regulation is clearly explained by the visa service of the U.S. Embassy in France.
The official documents issued to you – the DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility and the SEVIS fee receipt – will allow you to apply for the J-1 visa at the American Consulate.
As with any international project, your internship in the United States must be prepared in advance. This involves administrative procedures that may require final verification from the U.S. Department of State or additional verification from your employer. The average time to obtain the DS-2019 is 3 weeks.
Step 3: Go to the embassy to receive the visa in your passport.
When you go to the American embassy in Paris, bring your DS 2019 and your SEVIS number with you. These are two extremely important documents.
When you arrive at the entrance, security checks will be carried out. If you are in possession of food and drinks, they will ask you to throw them in the trash.
Do not bring your computers in your bag, the only electronic devices tolerated are mobile phones.
All your personal belongings will be placed in a locker and will be returned to you at the end of your appointment. All your personal belongings will be placed in a locker and will be returned to you at the end of your appointment. Then they will redirect you to a queue to proceed with the interview.
You will be asked questions like these:
- What are your reasons for coming to the US?
- What is the length of your stay?
- Do you have the necessary funds? (with supporting bank documents)
Your fingerprints will be taken and they will tell you whether your visa is approved or not. A supporting document will be given to you in exchange for your passport if you pass the interview.
You will receive your visa within a minimum of 72 hours at your home or at a relay point of the embassy. It may take longer and may take up to 2 weeks to receive your visa. You are finally ready to travel!
Step 4: Travelling to the United States and meeting with US Immigration
After flying more than 10 hours and going through many airport controls, you think you are done with all this and want only one thing: to get your suitcase back at any cost.
But you have one last step to take, that of American immigration. An immigration officer will check your administrative documents (DS -2019), your passport and ask you the reason of your arrival on the territory.
Usually when it is an internship, this is very quick. They will take a picture of you and ask you for the address where you will reside during your stay.
You can finally get back to your suitcases and live the American dream.