FAQs

General

When can I apply?
You can apply at any time of year. However the processing time of your application will take approximately 6 to 8 weeks, so plan for this when you apply.
How much does the programme cost?
Please contact us at internshipusa@usit.ie or refer to the Cost page
What does this price cover?
Processing of application; transfer of all relevant documents to CIEE in Portland; Participant Handbook; Issue of DS-2019; US Embassy appointment arranged for ROI applicants; Dispatch of all Visa Application forms, including samples; 24 hour emergency service in the USA.
What does the SEVIS fee cover?
The Sevis fee is charged by the US Government in order to maintain the SEVIS system. The SEVIS system generates your DS-2019 and serves as a tracking system/database while you are in the US. There are more details regarding the SEVIS system in the programme handbook and materials you receive when you are approved for the programme.
How long before I can go?
The processing time of your application to the Professional Career Training Programme will be approx. 6 to 8 weeks from the date you submit all necessary documentation. Unfortunately it is difficult to guarantee the processing times for the Professional Career Training programme due to SEVIS waiting periods and Interview Appointment availability at the US Embassy/Consulate. Due to this we do not accept applications with a departure date less than 6 weeks away (Or 8 weeks if a site visit is required).
Do all applicants have to pay the Host Company Vetting fee? What does this cover?
Not all participants will have to pay the Host Company Vetting fee. Only participants going to a Host Company that does not fit one of the following criteria will have to pay this fee: an annual turnover of US$3 million, a full-time staff of at least 25, or previously hosted an intern or trainee through CIEE in the last 3 years. This fee covers the actual extra costs involved in completing the physical site visit to your companies location and is currently set at €180 (subject to change).
Can I go to the US and apply from there?
Unfortunately, no. You need to be in Ireland for a majority of the process for several reasons. The main reason is that if you have spent too much time in the US prior to attending your Interview at the US Embassy/Consulate they will look at your application more suspiciously and you will run a greater risk of rejection. We also need to be able to contact you if there are any problems with your application, so they can be dealt with immediately. You also must attend your US Embassy/Consulate interview yourself in person in Ireland. We also send all of your important documentation to your Irish address, so you will need to be present in the country to receive it.
Will my sponsor organise any cultural activities for me while I’m in the US?
CIEE will organize and offer cultural activities and opportunities for you during your Intern/Trainee program in the U.S. These opportunities include the monthly Culture Guide, local networking events, periodic email newsletters, the Civic Leadership Summit, and additional cultural activities that may be offered to you by your Host Organization, your home-country CIEE representative, and/or the U.S. Department of State during your program.

General

Is the Professional Career Training Programme open to all Irish Nationals?
No. You must either have a qualification of at least a degree and at least 12 months of full time work experience in your qualified field. If you do not have a third level qualification you need to have at least 5 years of full time work experience in your career field.
I am not an Irish Citizen. Can I still apply for the Professional Career Training programme?
It all depends on your individual situation. If you are not an Irish citizen but have completed your third level education in Ireland and have at least 12 months of full time work experience in your field outside the USA, you could be eligible for Professional Career Training. If you are not an Irish citizen and do not hold an academic qualification, a great bulk of your 5 (minimum) years of professional work experience should be in Ireland. You should email your details to internshipusa@usit.ie along with a copy of your CV and our team will determine your eligibility.
I have over 5 years of experience, but I'm not sure if my profession is eligible or not. What do I do?
If your professional experience is trade orientated - i.e. plumbers, hairdressers, electricians, beauty therapists, etc it is quite likely that we cannot consider these for the programme. This is because trade based occupations are considered as 'unskilled' by the US Department of State and as a result cannot be considered under any of the student exchange (J-1) type of visa programmes that USIT offer.
I already went to the US with a J1 Work and Travel visa. Can I still apply for the Professional Career Training programme?
Of course. Regardless of how many times you went to the US with a J1 Work and Travel visa, you can still apply for up to 12 months for a J1 trainee visa provided you meet all eligibility requirements.
I already went to the US on an Internship/12 Month USA Work visa. Can I still apply for the Professional Career Training programme?
If you have previously participated in the 12 Month USA Work or Internship USA visa programmes; you can apply for the Professional Career Training programme provided you fulfill the requirements listed above. However, you must leave the USA for at least 2 years since the completion of your US 12 Month/Internship programme before you can begin your traineeship in the US. There are no exceptions made to this rule. It is a US Department of State/US Embassy rule.
I already went to the US on a Professional Career Training visa. Can I still apply for the programme again?
If you have previously participated on the PCT programme before; you can apply for the programme again. However, you must leave the USA for at least 2 years since the completion of your US Internship programme before you can begin your traineeship in the US. It is also important that any training you receive on your new programme does not replicate any previous training you were given. The 2 year rule must be adhered to in order for USIT to accept an application for the programme from you.

Payment

When do I have to pay for my programme fee? For my insurance? For my flights?
You must pay your programme, SEVIS fee and insurance at time of application. Once we have submitted your completed application to CIEE for processing, an agent will be in contact with you to book your flights. Please note that we are unable to release your DS-2019 to you until your flights and insurance have been booked and paid in full - failure to do this could delay your US Embassy appointment and ultimately your departure for the US. Make sure that when booking your flight you are aware of all restrictions on your ticket!
Why do I have to pay an Embassy visa fee also?
The US Embassy fee is a separate fee that the US Embassy requires from you in order for them to process your paperwork. This fee is paid directly to the US Embassy and has nothing to do with either USIT or CIEE.
What is the SEVIS fee? Do I have to pay it?
SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. SEVIS was implemented post 9/11 in order to allow the US Government to track the location of all participants on student exchange based programmes, including the Internship UA programme. The system is now fully implemented and the US Government has levied a fee to cover the administrative costs of the system. You must pay this fee in order to obtain your J1 visa from the US Embassy/Consulate. USIT/CIEE arranges payment for you and will supply you with a SEVIS receipt (I-797 or I-901) with your DS-2019 before your appointment with the US Embassy/Consulate.
How long before I get my visa?
The processing time is generally 6 to 8 weeks; however it can take more or less time depending on your individual application. You should receive your DS-2019 about 2 weeks before your US Embassy/Consulate appointment. You should receive your US Visa from the embassy approximately 5-7 business days after your interview.

Financial Support Evidence

Why do I have to submit a bank statement to the US Embassy/Consulate?
You must submit a bank statement to the US Embassy/Consulate and at US Immigration in order to prove that you can support yourself for the first few weeks of your Internship and will not pose a burden on the US economy. Keep in mind that you should have sufficient start up funds (min $1000) as your first pay cheque may not become available to you until you've been there for a little while.
I do not have a current account bank statement but I have a Visa credit limit of more than €1000. Is that OK?
Unfortunately no, the US Government feels a bank statement is the best and most accurate way of reflecting your financial status and your start up funds. Please ask your bank to provide you with a bank statement before you attend your Interview at the US Embassy. Your statement should be dated within the last 90 days.
Will I still need to show proof of funds to US Immigration?
Yes, US immigration can decide to allow or not allow you into the US even if the US Embassy has granted your visa, so we recommend that you have at least $1000 in cash or a bank statement when going through immigration (if you are going on a paid placement)

Passport

What if I don't have a valid passport at the time of application?
You MUST have a valid passport at the time of application. We will need to check the dates of your passport, which must remain valid throughout your stay in the US. We also have to match your passport to all of your documents in order to have your DS-2019 printed correctly. You will have to wait until you receive your new passport before you can apply.
My passport validity will expire while I am in the US? Is that OK?
No your passport must be valid for the entire duration of your visa. If it is not you will either need to apply for a new passport with the appropriate validity or change the dates of your Internship to fit into your current passport's validity.
My passport has been stolen and I only have an emergency 1-year replacement passport. Can I go in the US with it?
Unfortunately No. All Professional Career Training participants must have a passport which is valid for the entire duration of their trainee visa.

Visa

When do I get my visa?
You will be able to apply for your J1 Visa after you have received your DS2019. After you have received your DS2019, you will need to attend an Interview at the US Embassy/Consulate where they will vet your application and issue your Visa if it is approved. The US Embassy (generally within 5-7 business days of your Interview) will post your documents to you. USIT arranges your interview for you if you are residing in the Republic of Ireland - you will be notified of this in your 'Welcome Pack'. If you are a Northern Irish applicant you will have to arrange your own interview, details on how to do this will be in your 'Welcome Pack'
How do I apply for my J-1 visa?
Once your DS2019 has been issued you will attend a scheduled interview at the US Embassy/Consulate. USIT will arrange your appointment for you and will notify you of your appointment date and time in the cover letter to your 'Welcome Pack'. Your 'Welcome Pack' will be sent to you shortly after we receive your completed documents and will detail the documents and information required for your US Embassy/Consulate interview. Your DS-2019 will be issued to you shortly before your appointment date provided you have booked and paid for your flights and insurance and there have not been any delays in processing your application.
I am going to the US for the 12 months, do I really need 'Return Evidence'?
Yes, the US Embassy/Consulate require that all participants supply a letter of Return Evidence to illustrate that you are returning to Ireland once your programme is completed. This can be a letter showing an intention to return to studies or to a job/job prospect here in Ireland. You MUST have this, if you do not your application will be rejected. This programme is a temporary exchange visitor programme and should not be viewed as a springboard to stay in the US permanently.
What is a DS-2019 form?
It is the 'Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor J-1 Status', which is the document that entitles you to apply for a J1 Visa. You cannot obtain a J1 Visa without a DS-2019. Similarly your J-1 visa is not valid without your DS-2019. Only the two documents together grant you permission to live and work in the US.
Should I keep a copy of my DS-2019 while I am in the US?
YES! You must keep your original DS2019 in a safe place and with you throughout your stay in the US and you will need to take it with you if you travel outside of the country. We also recommend that you keep a photocopy of this and all of your travel documents in a safe place just in case something happens to them.
I have lost my DS-2019. Does it matter?
YES! If you lose your DS2019 while you are still in Ireland contact USIT straight away and we will arrange getting a replacement for you. If you lose it while you are in the US you will need to contact CIEE straight away. You may have to pay a fee for the issuance of a new document. CIEE's number is 1-888-268-6245
How long can I stay on the Professional Career Training Visa?
You can avail of a J-1 Professional Career Training USA visa for a maximum of 18 months, provided that your Host Company is willing to take you on for the maximum length of time. If your Host Company wants to take you on as a trainee for 8 months, you will only be granted an 8 month visa.
Can participants apply to extend their period of training after they've travelled to the US?
If you are on the Professional Career Training programme, you can apply to extend your period of training with your host company once the total time spent training in the US does not exceed 18 months in total. You will need to fill in the extension application forms and pay the relevant programme and insurance fees. You will need to apply for an extension prior to the expiry of your current DS2019 and allow a minimum of 6 weeks for processing your application. Please email internshipusa@usit.ie and we will send you the necessary forms.
Can I apply directly to the US Embassy for a visa - why do I have to go through USIT?
You must be a registered participant on a US Government authorised work exchange programme or have other official US Visa documentation for other visa types. The US Embassy does not issue work visas (J1) without the necessary Work Authorisation from a US Government approved legal sponsor. CIEE is the approved legal sponsor of our programme and can issue such authorisations - i.e. the DS-2019. Without a DS-2019 you cannot apply for a J1 visa.
Can I study in the US while on the Professional Career Training visa?
No. The regulations on the Professional Career Training programme do not allow you to study at a US educational institution while there - if you want to study in the USA only, you will have to go through the embassy and your university for this.

Immigration & Travel

May participants leave the US during their period on the programme?
Provided you have a valid multiple entry J-1 visa stamped into your passport you may leave and return to the USA as many times as you wish as long as you get your DS-2019 signed before departure or obtain a 'letter of good standing' from CIEE. Please also note that your DS-2019, J-1 visa, and passport must be valid in order to re-enter the U.S. Lastly, make sure it states "M" under "Entries" on your J-1 Visa. If it states "S" or "1," you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. to finish your trainee program. Please check your visa before you depart for the US and be sure to raise any questions on this by emailing internshipusa@usit.ie.
Can I go to Canada / Mexico for a few days?
Yes, but you will have to follow the procedures outlined above as these rules apply to any travel outside the US.
Can I come back home for a holiday during my training?
Yes, but you will have to follow the procedures outlined above as these rules apply to any travel outside the US and you will have to do this before your DS-2019 and J1 visa expiry dates. Please note, if you return to Ireland your insurance will not cover you for your stay in Ireland. Any trip home over 21 days will invalidate your insurance and visa altogether and you will not be allowed to return to the US on the programme.

Work, Social Security & Taxes

Do I have to have a training position before I go to the US?
Absolutely. You have to secure full-time training employment (minimum 32hrs per week) before you can apply to the programme. Your job must be directly related to your course of study.
Will USIT arrange my job for me?
We do not arrange training positions for individuals. However, there is a great deal of information and links to resources on our website under the 'Finding a Trainee Position' sections. Most participants on the programme tend to have found their trainee positions through independent searches, personal/family contacts and sheer persistence!
Can I change job during my traineeship?
No. The sponsorship of CIEE for your Professional Career Training is specifically granted in relation to the employment you secured at time of application. Only under very specific circumstances will you be able to change employer (e.g.: you've been fired/terminated/made redundant). If you are having a serious problem with your internship provider you may also apply for a change of position. Make sure to contact CIEE straight away if you are having problems with your employer. In any case do not quit/change job without prior approval by CIEE. This could otherwise result in the withdrawal of sponsorship.
Am I allowed to hold a second job during my traineeship?
No. The US regulations on this programme prohibit holding any other job while you are over on this Visa. If you do so you risk losing your Sponsorship and Visa and may be deported from the US.
Are there any jobs I'm NOT allowed to do?
YES! Medical, veterinary, health, childcare and housekeeper positions are not authorised under the J-1 Internship visa. There are also some positions that fall under the US Government's 'Unskilled Occupation' list. Please see more detailed information on this in our Eligibility Page on this website'. You must have a minimum of 32hrs of work per week.
My training position is not paid. Is that OK?
YES! However you must complete all of the relevant documentation on the Financial Sponsorship form and you will need to furnish the US Embassy with proof of funds and a letter from your financial sponsor stating the amount of money they will furnish you with and how they will get it to you while you are in the US.
Are participants on the Professional Career Training programme liable for taxes in the US?
Yes, participants are responsible for paying ALL income taxes, which apply to your area. However, you do not have to pay Social Security, Medicare or Federal Unemployment Taxes.
What forms will I need to file my tax return?
Before you can file your tax return you will need to obtain a W-2 from your Host Company. US Employers are required to post these to all employees no later than 31 January every year, so you should receive this by mid-February. Make sure that your Host Company has your correct address. The 1040NR-EZ is the form you must complete for your Federal taxes. You will also need to obtain your W-2 form from your employer at the end of the year. If you paid any State or Local taxes, you will need to get any State/ Local tax forms that are applicable to you - these can often be obtained via the web or through local government offices in your area of the US.
Where can I get IRS forms?
You can obtain all Federal tax forms from the IRS web site: www.irs.gov. You may also obtain the federal tax form from the American Embassy outside of the U.S. To obtain State tax forms, look in the "blue pages" of any local telephone book in the U.S. to find your state tax office address. Local libraries, post offices and town/city halls also may have state, federal and local tax forms.
My only compensation is room and board. Do I have to pay taxes on that?
We advise that you ask your employer for a statement at the end of your employment (i.e. W-2 or 1099 form) stating the amount of compensation for that period of time, mentioning that this was compensated through room and board. If this form is not available when you are finishing up your job, please make sure you provide your Host company with your Irish address so that they can send it to you in the post.
NOTE: All Professional Career Training participants should apply for a Social Security Card and file a tax return at the end of the year, regardless of whether they have received regular payment/compensation or not. This is beneficial to the participants, in case they want to come back to the U.S. in the future, so that they have proof that they followed the regulations while here on CIEE's program.
Do I have to apply for a social security number if my traineeship is unpaid?
Yes. Whether you are paid or not you are 'employed' as such. The company you train with will also have to have a social security number for you for tax purposes.

Insurance

What does the programme insurance cover me for?
Cancellation and curtailment; Emergency Medical Responses and Repatriation; Baggage and Personal Effects; Travel Delay and Holiday Abandonment; Hijack; Missed Departure; Personal Accident; Personal Liability; Student Loan; Legal Expenses; Exam Failure; Loss of Earnings; Programme Participation Costs in certain cases where a return to Ireland is necessary; Government Travel Advice and certain Hazardous Pursuits are all things that are covered to varying degrees on the Professional Career Training Insurance Policy. For further details or specified information regarding the policy you will need to refer to your policy - you can ring our call centre on 01 6021600 to obtain policy information.
I am booking my flight with my credit card. Do I need to buy insurance?
Yes, absolutely.
My Host Organisation in the US is providing me with insurance, so I don't need to purchase a policy before I go, right?
No, this is not correct. Policies arranged through your Host Organisation in the US are not sufficient as they do not cover repatriation back to Ireland and this coverage is required by US law. They only cover day to day medical expenses and there is usually a waiting period once you arrive before this insurance will actually provide you with coverage. We cannot accept alternative insurance policies on this programme - you must purchase USIT's.

Flights

Can I book my flights to anywhere in the US?
Yes, you can travel to anywhere in the US.
Can I book my flights with another travel agency?
No, you must book your flights with USIT; this is so we have all of your travel information to provide to the US Government and Sponsors, as well as the Insurance provider. It's also more beneficial as you can purchase tickets that can be changed for a nominal fee in case you run into problems with obtaining all of the necessary paperwork to travel on your traineeship. Make sure that you are aware of all fees and rules that may apply to your specific ticket.
I am entitled to concession travel because a member of my family works for an airline. Is that okay?
No. You must book your flights with USIT.

Extensions

I have extended my DS-2019:

My visa is expired is that normal?
Yes the US Embassy usually only issues your visa for the time specified on your DS-2019, at times they may even have your visa's validity expire before the end date on your DS-2019. As long as you do not plan on leaving the US and returning during your extension time, you will be fine.
I have friends to visit in Canada for a few days. Do I need to do anything about my visa?
If you have extended your programme and your Visa has expired, you will be unable to travel outside of the US to any country until you obtain a new J-1 Visa, which you can only do in your home country.
I am coming back home to Ireland for a holiday. Is that OK?
Yes, However if your J-1 Visa has expired you will need to apply for a new one while you are at home. You will need to arrange an appointment at the US Embassy several weeks in advance and you will have to fill out all of the relevant forms again, as well as pay the Visa Application Fee to the US Embassy/Consulate again.
What do I do with my new DS-2019?
Sign it and staple it into your passport along with your original DS-2019. If you need to get a new Visa you will need to have it with you when you apply for your new visa. You will also need to make sure you've had it signed by CIEE.
Do I need to extend my insurance also?
When you pay the extension fees, your extended insurance comes with that. You should receive your new policy by email shortly after you apply for your extension.
What is involved in the processing of an extension?
There is quite a bit of processing involved in the processing of an extension. Your Host Company will need to write you up a new Training Plan that outlines what new training they will receive. The host Company will clearly have to prove to CIEE that they will be able to provide you with progressive training and you will also have to show that you will greatly benefit your career upon return to Ireland. USIT will have to extend your insurance and calculate your programme fees for the amount of time you will be extending in the US. We always encourage participants to try to get the most out of their traineeship initially in case an extension is not an option.