As a general rule, there are only three U.S. visas suitable for students coming to the United States seeking paid internships or practical training work experience.

H‑2 “Temporary Worker”: The procedures for this visa require a two‑step process to be followed by the employer. First, a “labor certification” must be secured through the state employment service of the area where the individual will work. Following rules established by the U.S. Department of Labor, the employer must submit evidence to demonstrate that: (a) a real job exists (i.e., not a job made up to suit the background of the foreign national); (b) that substantial efforts have been made to fill the job with a U.S. citizen; and (c) that no qualified U.S. citizens have applied for the job. Once the “labor certification” has been granted, the employer must then file an application with the area’s BCIS (Bureau of Citizen and Immigration Services) District Office.

H‑3 “Industrial Trainee”: This visa does not require a “labor certification.” The employer must submit the H‑3 application to the area’s Immigration Service District Office. The application must include a detailed training plan to show what the trainee will do in the United States,  including how much time will be spent in “classroom or other instruction” and how much time will be devoted to “on‑the‑job” work. The application must also provide information to show why the individual cannot receive suitable or similar training in his/her own country.

J‑1 “Exchange Visitor”: The J‑1 visa may be used only by individuals who are participants in educational programs which have been specifically approved by the U.S. State Department. There are eight (8) different J‑1 categories, each with its own specific rules and regulations. Approved “Exchange Visitor Programs” are granted by the State Department only to U.S. sponsoring organizations such as government agencies, schools, hospitals, and private educational exchange organizations. Each sponsor is granted a specific “program description” – a short statement which specifically mentions those activities that are permitted for participants in the sponsor’s specific program.

Of the eight J‑1 categories, only the “trainee” category is suitable for foreign students coming to the United States for paid internships and practical training employment. (The “student” category applies only to a person coming to the U.S. for full‑time academic study at an American school.) The number of sponsors having J‑1 programs which permit practical training employment is extremely limited. Only the International Association of Students in Economics and Business Management (AIESEC) and the Association for International Practical Training (AIPT, the U.S. affiliate of the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience, IAESTE, Training Program) have authorizations for sponsorship of foreign trainees in the U.S. which include most fields of study and all countries of the world. (Both of these programs are described below.) The maximum length of practical training time permitted any one person  (regardless of the number of sponsors, employers, or visits to the United States) is 18 months.

Another type of J‑1 authorization covers placement in summer camps for camp‑counselor experience. An example is the authorization granted to Camp America. Such placements are limited to approximately eight weeks and must be for a genuine counseling/teaching assignment. Placement in office, kitchen, or custodial jobs is not permitted.

If an employer’s application for either an H‑2 or H‑3 visa is successful, the District Office of the Bureau of Citizen and Immigration Services will advise the U.S. Embassy in the student’s country.  The student can then apply for the visa and travel to the United States.  In the case of the J‑1 visa, the sponsoring organization that has agreed to include the student issues a U.S. government document called a DS-2019 (a “Certificate of Eligibility”). The DS-2019 is sent to the student who uses it to apply for the J‑1 visa in his/her country.

Upon entering the United States, the admitting Immigration Inspector issues a Form I‑94 (Arrival/Departure Record) on which is noted the specific visa granted and the date on which the person’s “Permit‑to‑Stay” expires. Admission to the United States in the H‑2, H‑3, or Trainee category of the J‑1 visa with such status being noted on the form I‑94 is the only documentation needed for the student to proceed to the work place and take up the internship or trainee assignment.

Most countries of the world have very strict regulations with regard to non‑citizens working, in order to protect job opportunities for their own citizens. In this area, the United States is no different, especially in periods of high unemployment. What is different, however, is the U.S. system of visas and the rules and regulations which apply to each type (and sub‑type) of visa. The process of securing a proper visa usually takes a good deal of time (often as long as four to six months) and can often be frustrating. Thus, it is wise to begin contact with prospective employers as early as possible so that the employer has sufficient time to undertake the  paperwork involved. If you have applied to or have been accepted by an organization such as AIESEC or IAESTE, make that fact known to the employer, as each sponsoring organization has its own internal procedures which must be followed. With careful advance preparation, the complexities of the U.S. visa system can be dealt with.


Except as in the cases described below, aliens who wish to obtain hands-on clerkship experience are not deemed to fall within B-1 visa classification.

An alien who is studying at a foreign medical school and seeks to enter the United States temporarily in order to take an “elective clerkship” at a U.S. medical school’s hospital without remuneration from the hospital.  The medical clerkship is only for medical students pursuing their normal third or fourth year internship in a U.S. medical school as part of a foreign medical school degree.  (An “elective clerkship” affords practical experience and instructions in the various disciplines of medicine under the supervision and direction of faculty physicians at a U.S. medical school’s hospital as an approved part of the alien’s foreign medical school education.  It does not apply to graduate medical training, which is restricted by 212(e) and normally requires a J-visa.

Au Pair Programs

For more information, please contact one of the following organizations:

Ms. Lieve Deschuymere
Vierwindenlaan 7
B- 1780 Wemmel
Tel.: 02/ 460.33.95
E-mail :
Website :

Av. de Jette, 26, Jetselaan
B- 1081 Brussels
Tel. :    02/ 534.53.50 (French) –  02/ 534.53.36 (Dutch)
Fax. : 02/ 534.50.70
e-mail :
Website :

Working in Summer Camps

For more information, please contact one of the following organizations:

BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA  (International Camp Staff Program)
For more informations and registration, go to:
This program offers you the opportunity to work for 6 to 12 weeks during the summer months (commencing mid June) as a Counselor at one of the BSA Summer Camps or Cub Scout Day Camps.  Candidates must be approved overseas Scout leaders between 18 and 30.  You and the rest of the staff will receive some training before camp opens. You will sleep in a tent or a small cabin and eat in the dining hall. There will be little free time as programs run throughout the day and evening.  However, you will receive an occasional free day when you can visit nearby towns and you will receive a salary equal to that paid to American Counselors (on average $800). Special skills and qualifications may increase your salary. Accommodation and food is provided free of charge during the camp.

Students of Belgium should contact the UK Office:
Camp America, 37a Queen’s Gate,
London, SW7 5HR, England.
Tel. : +44 (0)20 7581 7373
Fax.: +44 (0)20 7581 7377

Camp America will find you a placement, help organize your visa, give you help and support in the USA and at home, allow you up to 10 weeks travel in North America and pay you pocket money. The jobs are hard but rewarding. You’ll be working with children, mainly outdoors, teaching them about sports, arts and life skills.  Camp America offers three choices of placement : Camp Counseling, Special Needs Counseling and Campower (for more details, see the Website).

NOTE: Belgium inquiries/applications are handled by The Netherlands office :
Koninginnegracht 35
2514 AC Den Haag, The Netherlands
Phone : +31 (70) 345 4800
Fax : +31 (70) 346 6064
E-mail :
Website :

This program offers you the opportunity to work for at least 9 weeks from June to late August. Camps hire for many areas, including General Counselor and Specialist Counselor (Waterfront Staff and Ropes Course Instructor and Support Staff, see descriptions on the Website).  Your unique skills, qualifications and interests largely determine  your camp placement and duties. Camps make the determination as to which position you will have at camp. Candidates must be 18 and be able to converse in English without difficulty.

International Counselor Exchange Program
38 West 88th Street
New York NY 10024-2502
Tel. : 212-787-7706
Fax : 212-580-9283

The International Counselor Exchange Program makes possible the placement of several hundred students and young people from all regions of the world, ages 18-30, to serve as counselors in American summer camps. All ICEP Counselors are carefully selected based on their camp-related skills, experience leading children, ability to communicate in English, and enthusiasm for participating in an international exchange.

SCI – Projets Internationaux
rue Van Elewyck 35
B- 1050 Bruxelles
Tel. :  02/ 649.07.38

Through SCI, candidates aged 19 years or older can apply to work as volunteers for a minimum period of 3 months (maximum 1 year) on a wide variety of international projects.  The possibilities are vast and include, i.e., activities for children, youth and handicapped individuals; helping prepare theater productions; providing information on human rights, rights of minorities; renovation and construction; agricultural and/or environmental projects.  Candidates must speak English.  While no specific academic or professional background is required, some professional experience may be necessary for certain projects.

OPT – Optional Practical Training

The Optional Practical Training program allows international students (pursuing a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctoral degree) at a U.S, institution to work off-campus for up to 12 months in the U.S. This 12-month allowance can be used over the course of a degree program (students can work up to 20 hours per week during term and 40 hours per week during holidays) or in its entirety following graduation.

A student must complete all practical training within a 14-month period following the completion of study. In order to qualify, he/she must have been a full-time student for at least one full academic year before the submission of the OPT application. A student may qualify for an additional twelve months if he/she completes a second degree at a higher level of study.

To apply for the OPT scheme, contact the designated officer at your university (likely an employee in the International Student Services office). The officer will update your SEVIS status and submit the initial OPT forms. The student will then submit an I-765 form, along with a $340 filing fee, a copy of a passport and two passport photos to Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After the forms have been processed, USCIS will send an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Students cannot begin employment until they have received this document.

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