Who is eligible for the J-1 Intern Program?
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.
What type of activities are appropriate for an internship?
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.
How long may an internship last?
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.
May an intern transfer to another institution or engage in a second internship?
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.
How is the internship evaluated?
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!
How can a host department initiate paperwork for a J-1 intern?
- 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.
- 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.
- Design a detailed internship program, and discuss with prospective intern.
- 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.
- Evaluate the English proficiency of the Intern and complete English Proficiency Form.
- 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
- Make arrangements for financial compensation of intern, and/or obtain documentation
of other financial support.
- Submit all required forms to International Programs and Services (109 Camp Bldg.)
- 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
- 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
- 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.
NOTE TO PROSPECTIVE INTERNS: Arrangements for an internship must first be made with the host Department at Western Carolina University. Application is not made to IPS. 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.