J-1 visa advice! Help me get from the UK to the US for an internship without spending ALL my funding before I reach American soil…
I'm a UK citizen, and upon graduating from my MA I was offered a prestigious 3 month internship at a research institute in the US. The internship is funded by a non-profit association ($5000 for accommodation and living expenses), and my flights are also covered by them separately. My funding will be released to me once all the details are arranged.
I believe I need a J-1 visa
. However, the research institute is not able to be my 'sponsor' (I assume organisations have to be vetted by the government in order to be a sponsor). So, I need to find an approved independent sponsor, and I have been told they can charge up to $1000 - eek!
Furthermore, to apply for a visa I must make an appointment to see the US Embassy, and at the point of booking I must pay the application fee of $140. If I don't get all my stuff in order beforehand I will be required to pay the fee AGAIN to re-apply.
So, my questions:
1) I have been recommended this company
as a sponsor. Anyone have experience of using them? Are there better sponsorship companies who are able to sponsor 'work exchange programs'?
2) What do I need to have in order BEFORE contacting the sponsor. Do my internship dates need to be confirmed? Should I have my accommodation sorted? My flights booked?
3) Do I need to have my sponsorship certificate in my hand BEFORE scheduling the application interview at the US Embassy?
4) I am also a full-time PhD student at the moment, taking an approved break to complete this internship, in an almost-but-not-quite associated field. Does my student status afford me any other options?
Thanks for making it this far!