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J-1 Intern

IPS - J-1 Internship


A J-1 Internship is designed to allow foreign college and university students or recent graduates to come to the United States to gain exposure to U.S. culture and to receive hands-on experience in U.S. business practices in their chosen occupational field.

Internships allow a bridge between the formal education of university and the practical application of work experience. 

Please note: The application is not made to WCU Global. Arrangements for an internship must first be made with the host Department at Western Carolina University. After all arrangements for your internship have been made, then the host WCU professor or host WCU department must complete all necessary forms and send to IPS. You are not required to complete any forms yourself.


A prospective intern must be enrolled in a recognized degree- or certificate-granting post-secondary academic institution outside the U.S. or must have graduated from such an institution no more than 12 months before the beginning of the internship. A prospective intern must be screened for English proficiency and personally interviewed to ensure that she/he has the appropriate background and skills for the program. Before the intern applies for the J-1 visa, he/she must be given a clear written statement of the learning goals and activities of the internship program.

The internship must be designed as an educational program, directly related to the intern’s current or recent field of study. The intern may receive a stipend or salary from Western Carolina University (or third party organization), but he/she may not fill a normal position of employment, which could or would be filled by a regular employee, and he/she may not displace a U.S. worker. The internship should normally involve entry-level work or activities, but should not duplicate any previous internship or employment that the intern has had.

The internship must consist of at least 32 hours of structured activities per week. The intern may not engage in “casual or unskilled labor”, and no more than 20% of the program may include clerical work. Interns in medical and social service fields (such as nursing and social work) may not engage in patient care or contact. Additional restrictions apply to persons in the field of hospitality and tourism.

An internship may last for three weeks to twelve months. The length of the program must be established before the intern arrives; in most cases, the internship program after the intern arrives.

An intern is normally expected to complete the planned internship with the original program sponsor, so a transfer would probably not be appropriate. After the intern returns home, he/she may be invited to the U.S. for another internship, provided he/she still meets the eligibility criteria and that the internship does not duplicate the activities of the first.

U.S. law requires a written evaluation of every internship program, to be signed by the intern and the primary supervisor. For all interns, an evaluation must be completed and signed at the end of the internship period, before the intern returns home. If an internship will last more than six months, an additional, midpoint, evaluation is also required. Copies of these evaluations must be given to the intern, to the WCU supervisor, and International Programs and Services. This is a strict law! 

If a WCU department is interested in hosting an international intern in the department, it should follow the steps listed below. These requirements are dictated by U.S. law. Appoint a WCU professor as the primary supervisor.

  1. Determine that the prospective intern meets the stated criteria for the J-1 Intern Program sponsorship (as explained above). Obtain Certification of Academic Status from intern’s academic institution.
  2. Design a detailed internship program, and discuss with the prospective intern.
  3. Conduct a personal (or telephone) interview of the Intern. This interview must be conducted by the WCU professor. WCU professor will complete an Interview Report Form.
  4. Evaluate the English proficiency of the Intern and complete English Proficiency Form.
  5. Complete Form DS-7002 describing the internship goals and activities. If there are multiple phases of training with different activities, complete a separate Page 2 for each phase. After the form and all second pages have been completed, the form is signed by the intern and the supervisor. Signatures that are 'faxed' or scanned by the intern are acceptable. The intern may keep a copy with the original signature.
  6. Make arrangements for financial compensation of intern, and/or obtain documentation of other financial support.
  7. Submit all required forms to International Programs and Services (109 Camp Bldg.) 
  8. If all documents are complete and intern appears to be eligible for the J-1 program, IPS will issue a Form DS-2019 and send it to the intern, along with the copy of the DS-7002. 
  9. Arrange appropriate housing well in advance of the Intern’s arrival. IPS cannot make housing arrangements; this must be done by host department (or third party organization). 
  10. As soon as possible after the intern arrives, arrange for him/her to attend an orientation program with IPS.

Don't forget to complete the required evaluation forms on time and send copies to IPS! Departments may use the forms provided by IPS or may design their own. 

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