How to Apply as an International Student
The Washington Internship Institute assists international students in applying for J-1 exchange visitor visas in order to participate in our academic internship program in Washington, DC. The purpose of the J-1 exchange visitor program is to foster global understanding through educational and cultural exchanges. Please note the information on this page is for students who are not U.S. citizens and who do not attend a college or university in the U.S. If you attend a college or university in the U.S., you should complete our regular application process, regardless of your citizenship. If you have any questions about which application process you should complete, please contact us at (202) 833-8580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eligibility Requirements | Washington Internship Institute Application Instructions | Intern Profile Instructions | Visa Procedures | Insurance Requirements | Two-Year Physical Requirement | Additional Information | Helpful Websites
To be eligible for the Washington Internship Institute's academic internship program and a J-1 exchange visitor visa, you must:
Either be a current student at a tertiary institution or you must begin the program within one year of your graduation date.
- Have higher than a 2.75 GPA. We may consider you if your GPA is lower.
- Have your TOEFL score sent to us if you are not a native English speaker. (The Washington Internship Institute will not accept scores that are more than 5 years old.) Our TOEFL code is 3954. Additionally, the International English Language Testing System, (IELTS), is an acceptable exam as well and may be submitted in lieu of the TOEFL. Although the Washington Internship Institute does not have a minimum score requirement, most of our international students obtain at least a total score of 85 on the TOEFL or 7 on the IELTS.
- Seek an internship in one of the following four areas: arts and culture; information media and communications; management, business, commerce and finance; or public administration and law.
- Obtain medical insurance coverage that meets the criteria listed below. The Washington Internship Institute may request a copy of the policy prior to issuing the visa paperwork.
- Be located outside the U.S. It is highly advisable to apply for the visa in your country of citizenship, not another country. You may not apply for a visa if you are currently in the U.S.
- Be prepared to arrive in the United States with a return ticket home. Participants must depart the U.S. within 30 days of completion of the program. It is not possible to transfer to another visa of any kind.
Washington Internship Institute Application Instructions
Due to the lead time required to apply for a visa, the application deadline for international students is earlier than the regular application deadline. The deadlines are posted on our Deadlines and Program Dates page.
- Complete the online application form. You will immediately receive an email requesting that you verify your email address. After clicking the link to verify your email address, you will immediately receive an email with a link to set your password. When you have set your password, you may log in to WII Link and proceed with the application process.
- Pay the $150 non-refundable application fee, payable in U.S. dollars. Students from Bond University, the College of Saint Benilde, and the University of Gothenburg omit this step.
- Upload an unofficial transcript (in English) to WII Link.
- Upload a resume to WII Link.
- Download the certificate of health and certificate of immunization from the document library in WII Link. Take the certificates to your doctor for completion. Upload the completed certificates to WII Link.
- If English is not your native language, take the TOEFL test and request that your score be submitted to the Washington Internship Institute. Our code is 3954. We will accept TOEFL scores that are no more than five years old.
Files that exceed the 500 kb size limit should be emailed to email@example.com.
After you have completed these six steps, we will review your application and notify you of our decision via email within one week.
Intern Profile Instructions
If you are admitted into our program, you will be asked to complete your Intern Profile within 10 days.
To complete your Intern Profile, log in to WII Link and do the following:
- Click “Complete your Intern Profile” on the shortcuts menu, and complete the remaining fields which request your housing decision, emergency contact information, health insurance information, etc.
- Upload a writing sample, i.e. a paper you have already written in English for a class. Choose a paper that is related to the field in which you wish to intern and that is an example of your best work. (Be sure you have proofread the paper very carefully!) A paper that’s five pages or less is recommended, if you have one. If the file is larger than 500 kb, it cannot be uploaded to WII Link and should be emailed to your Internship Program Coordinator instead. You may submit more than one writing sample if you wish.
- Upload a reference list.*
- Obtain two professional recommendations.*
* After you have been admitted into the Washington Internship Institute program, you will have access to detailed instructions for these items in WII Link’s document library.
While the following is not authoritative, here is a checklist of actions for potential interns addressing participation in the program:
- Complete the application process described above.
- The student is accepted by the Washington Internship Institute.
- The student completes the Intern Profile within 10 days. The Intern Profile will be used to assist with the internship placement process.
- The Washington Internship Institute prepares an invoice, and the student pays half of the tuition and housing balance to the Washington Internship Institute (The fees are posted here). Students from Bond University, the College of Saint Benilde, and the University of Gothenburg omit this step.
- We may request proof of health insurance fitting the criteria listed above.
- The student works with his or her Internship Program Coordinator at the Washington Internship Institute on possible placement options, does telephone or video-conference interviews with potential placement sites, and selects an internship. Please note that most internships in Washington are unpaid.
- The internship site completes Form DS-7002 outlining in detail exactly what the intern will be doing during the internship period. The student, supervisor, and Washington Internship Institute representative sign Form DS-7002 electronically. Each party receives a copy of the signed document via email.
- The Washington Internship Institute completes Form DS-2019.
- The Washington Internship Institute mails Forms DS-2019 and DS-7002 to the student.
- The student signs Form DS-2019.
- The student applies for a visa by paying the nonimmigrant visa application processing fee (also known as the Machine Readable Visa Fee) of $160 to the U.S. Department of State and the SEVIS I-109 fee of $180 to the Department of Homeland Security, completing the DS-160 online, and making a visa interview appointment. For more information, see http://j1visa.state.gov/participants/how-to-apply/interviews-documents/. (Canadian citizens and Mexican citizens may not be required to make an appointment but should contact the embassy for detailed instructions.)
- The student visits the U.S. embassy or consulate on the date and time of the interview and presents the DS-2019, DS-7002, and all items specified on the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where the visa application is made.
- If the visa is approved, the student researches travel options and proposes arrival and departure dates to his or her Internship Program Coordinator at the Washington Internship Institute. Written approval of the dates is required. Do not purchase plane tickets before the visa is approved or before receiving permission from the Washington Internship Institute.
- The student pays the remaining half of all Washington Internship Institute fees before departure for U.S.
- The student arrives in U.S. to begin the program. The DS-2019 must be presented when the student arrives at the U.S. border, and it must be kept on hand at all times since it is proof of status. Also bring the DS-7002.
- Students are expected to be at their internship site continuously through the program ending date listed on the DS-2019. Vacations or gaps during the program (e.g. spring break) are not permitted. An occasional long weekend out of town may be permitted; however, approval from a staff member at the Washington Internship Institute must be obtained in writing and in advance, and it must also be approved by the internship host.
- Students must report to the Washington Internship Institute within ten calendar days any changes in their telephone number, email address, or U.S. address.
- Students must depart the U.S. within 30 days of completion of the program.
The period of required insurance coverage is the actual duration of the student's participation as recorded in SEVIS as the “Program Begin Date” and the “Program End Date.”
Minimum coverage must provide medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness, repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000, expenses associated with the medical evacuation to the home country in the amount of $50,000, and a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
Insurance policies secured to fulfill the requirements of this section:
- May require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions that is reasonable as determined by current industry standards;
- May include provisions for co-insurance under the terms of which the student may be required to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness; and
- Must not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the student participates.
Any policy, plan, or contract secured to fill the above requirements must, at a minimum, be:
- Underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of “A−” or above; a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor's Claims-paying Ability rating of “A−” or above; a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above; a Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of “A−” or above; a Moody's Investor Services rating of “A3” or above; or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify; or
- Backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the student's home country;
- Offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization or eligible Competitive Medical Plan as determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Students may be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
Students who willfully fail to maintain the insurance coverage set forth above while a participant in the Washington Internship Institute’s program or who make material misrepresentations to the Washington Internship Institute concerning such coverage will be deemed to be in violation of these regulations and will be subject to termination as an exchange visitor.
Two-Year Physical Presence Requirement
Some exchange visitors are subject to the two-year home residency requirement. The two-year home residency requirement (or 212(e), as it is referenced in the immigration regulations) means that those who come to the U.S. in J-1 status cannot become permanent residents in the U.S., change status in the U.S., or get work- or family-based visa status such as H, L or K until they return to their country of last permanent residence for at least two years cumulatively.
This requirement does not prohibit a visitor from returning to the U.S. in any other immigration status. For example, if the visitor wishes to return as a tourist or student within the two-year period and meets the requirements for those entries, the two-year physical presence requirement does not prohibit this.
There are three grounds on which an exchange visitor can become subject to the two-year physical presence requirement:
- The exchange visitor’s participation in an exchange program was financed, directly or indirectly, by the US government or a foreign government for the purpose of exchange.
- The skills that the exchange visitor is coming to develop or exercise are in a field which the exchange visitor’s home government requested be included on the "skills list" set by the US Department of State. This is a list of fields of specialized knowledge and skills that are needed in the J-1's country of last permanent residence for its development. Canada, Australia and Germany are examples of countries that are not on the list. China, India and South Korea are examples of countries that have many skills on the list.
- The exchange visitor comes to the US to receive graduate medical education or training (which is not possible through the Washington Internship Institute).
For exchange visitors who receive funding from their home government or an international organization, or are subject based on the skills list, it is often possible to get a waiver by requesting a "letter of no objection" from the home country’s embassy in Washington, DC. For detailed information on the waiver process, visit the State Department website’s section on waivers.
Please note that visa issuance is at the sole discretion of the U.S. consular official reviewing a visa application, and admission into the United States is at the sole discretion of U.S. immigration officials when foreign nationals attempt to enter the United States at the border or port of entry. The processing of all visa applications is done on a case-by-case basis; therefore, the time of visa processing varies. Neither approval of the visa application nor entry in to the U.S. is guaranteed.
If you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 833-8580.