How COVID-19 affects the international internship programs in the US

Most international internship programs had to be canceled due to the corona pandemic and the associated travel restrictions. As long as there are no flights to the USA and you cannot enter the USA, you cannot do an internship there. But the US consulates must also have fully resumed operations and must process J1 visa applications. Whether the J1 Exchange Visitor Program, to which the internship program belongs, is then carried out as usual by the State Department is another question.

The massive rise in unemployment in the United States caused by the Corona crisis could have an impact on a political decision to suspend the international internship program indefinitely. Even before the pandemic, the Trump administration, under the motto “USA first” and restricted immigration, pushed for the J1 internship visa to be classified as a kind of work visa. It has long been feared that there will be significant and more restrictive changes to the J1 Exchange Visitor Visa. The Corona crisis and the slump in the US job market could be the triggering moment to make it difficult for foreign students to do an internship in the United States.

Are US Companies willing to employ foreign interns in the future?

But even if there are no visa restrictions, the question remains whether US companies can and will continue to employ foreign interns. Not only because of the fear that a foreign intern could introduce an infection, but rather that because of the high level of domestic unemployment, it would not be justifiable to give preference to a foreign intern to a vacancy. Conversely, it could also be a good thing that well-qualified interns are increasingly being sought in certain sectors  and areas that will have sustainable post-pandemic growth.

Nobody can predict the exact development and it remains to be seen when this global crisis and its effects will be over.

Interest in an internship in the United States continues. Kai Peter Weers, CEO of the Internship Agency Interswop Stays Abroad in Germany, says: “Even during the corona pandemic, we receive requests for our US internship program, although it is currently not possible to carry it out.”

But not only international students have their upcoming internships in the USA canceled, but also thousands of local US high school graduates. Read the interesting article: “From Facebook to the State Department, how coronavirus has changed summer internships” from Fri, Apr 24 by Abigail Hess.


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