Internship options as an international student in the US
When you are studying and working in a foreign country, you are offered the opportunity to see how is work carried out in other cultures. As an international student, you have the chance to learn new working methods that may not be practiced in your country.
If you have decided to do an internship in the USA, then usually you will get the J-1 visa. But, if you are already in the USA as a student and want to do an internship, then you are likely to have an F-1 visa. Both visas allow you to do an internship, but they differ in how they work and types of internships you want to do may be more limited.
- F-1 visa students
If you are already in the USA studying, you can usually do free internships within the university campus, without having to file any additional documentation. There may be limitations when and how many hours you can work. The usual allowed time is 20 hours of work.
To work outside of the university campus, you must apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). According to CPT, internships are not always paid. It is necessary that you choose a field you are studying because students that finish this type of internship earn credits. It should be noted that if you want to do an internship of this kind, you must complete your first year of study and apply for a student visa authorization, where you will then receive an I-20 form before you start working.
Internships under OPT are a bit more confusing because you must seek permission from the US State and Immigration Services, then if you qualify you will receive an EAD authorization document. The advantage of this option is that you don’t have to do an internship in the field you are studying.
The internship can take 12 months and you will be working full time.
- J-1 visa students
If you are studying in the USA with a J-1 visa, you can do an internship for up to 18 months. This is a bit similar to the OPT internship done by students with an F-1 visa because J-1 visa students can work during studying and also after graduation.
Students should obtain permission from the J-1 visa office chief in the relevant institution and the internship should be of the same field as that of study. If you are not a student in the USA, but you wish to do an internship there, then you will need a J-1 Intern Visa and J-1 Trainee Visa.
- Prepare your resume and practice for the job interview
In most cases, you are responsible for finding an internship, so prepare a resume based on your profile and it is recommended to use an American format. Be careful to make your resume fit as much as possible with American culture, for example, do not put pictures and do not write your marital status.
Acquire your communication skills for the interview and practice the English language. It would be nice to get information on the work you do, so read as many articles in English as to the field and company you applied and learn the terms you think are important in that field.