How To Intern In The U.S. On A J-1 Visa To Build Hospitality Experience

how to intern in u.s. j-1 visa gain hospitality experience united states internship immigrant

It’s great to have a degree, but hospitality employers need to see experience too. After all, there’s only so much you can learn in the classroom. It takes real, hands-on experience to learn how to anticipate and fulfill the needs of your guests. If you can do that, then your employer will see that you have the potential to anticipate the broader needs of the organization as well. 

But How Do You Get Hospitality Experience When No One Will Hire You? 

There are several ways to get around this problem, but they come with drawbacks. One common solution is to just put unrelated jobs on your resume—that way you’ll have something, right? Or maybe you worked F&B at a diner when you were a teenager, so you include that as experience. It’s closer, but it doesn’t necessarily show that you have the chops to keep up at a Michelin-star restaurant or a 5-star hotel. You’d need to show that you’re well-rounded, ambitious, and not afraid to step out of your comfort zone. 

That’s why you should be considering an internship in the U.S. 

Employers want to see that you’ve been exposed to more than one side of the hospitality industry. Since interning abroad in the U.S. exposes you to the most diverse cultural intersection on Earth, there’s no better way to give yourself the experience you need to land Michelin-star positions. 

You’ll build practical experience, expand your professional network, and acquire on-the-job skills and knowledge that you can’t learn anywhere else. 

How Do You Get A Hospitality Internship In The US? 

First things first, you’ll want to avoid applying to restaurants and hotels directly. It’s a valid strategy, but it’s also the most competitive path to follow—not to mention, it means competing against people already in the U.S. 

The easiest way to land an internship is through a sponsor or cultural exchange organization. Why? Because people hire who they know. Sponsors and cultural exchange organizations have a direct line to employers within their respective industries. Some of them also offer housing leads and assist with other logistics. 

Before sending in an application, it’s important to know the program requirements – and meet them! 

In order to participate in a U.S. based program, you must be: - Foreign nationals who are currently enrolled in a foreign degree or certificate granting post- secondary institution outside the U.S. 


- Who have graduated from such an institution no more than 12 months prior to their exchange visitor program start date 

In addition, you must be at least 18 years old and have your English skill evaluated by a recognized English language test. 

The J-1 Visa Application Process 

Once the previous requirements have been met, it’s time to secure your visa. To start, you’ll need a DS-7002 form. This document will be completed by your host company and includes three major items: 

- The contact information of the host company and applicant 
- Terms of the internship (hours, length of the program, stipend, and possible insurance) 
- A detailed plan of what you’re going to be learning and achieving during your internship 

The next step is an interview with your sponsor. This will act as both a gage of your English skills and for them to learn more about you and your goals with the program. 

The third step is the reception of your DS-2019, SEVIS, and DS-160. Let’s break these down: 

- The DS-2019, or “Certificate of Eligibility”, is the document that allows you to apply for the J-1 Visa as an intern or trainee in the United States. It identifies you and your sponsor and provides a breakdown of the program. This includes start and end dates, the program field and overall cost of the program 

- SEVIS Fees are mandatory payments that the Department of Homeland Security uses to fund the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) 

- The DS-160, or Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form, is for temporary travel to the United States. It is submitted electronically via the Department of State website 

All three forms will be required when an immigrant takes their appointment at the U.S. embassy in your home country. Once all your documentation has been approved, you’ll receive your visa and be headed to the U.S.! 

If you know someone interested in a U.S. internship to help them find a job, feel free to share this post with them by email or social media.

The Lean Startup Life Media Network Newest Blog Posts: