I am a non-US citizen and I have recently been looking into applying for a job in the US. I have found a temporary unpaid internship in the engineering field for which I might be qualified. If I should receive an offer I am wondering what kind of visa I would need for this type of work.

Currently, the H1B is very difficult to obtain as it is a lottery program and simply being skilled is not enough to be guaranteed a place. Therefore, it would be far nicer if I was eligible for some type of other easier to obtain visa considering I would be working for free and funding myself with my own money earned outside of the US.

I found this pdf outlining the possibility of applying for a B1 visa for volonteer work under a religious or charitable non-profit but it does not seem to discuss working for a private company for free. The official B1 webpage outlines the usual basic criteria of obtaining a US visa such as intent to go home, ties to a country of origin, suitable funds etc. All of which I would be in compliance with. It also seems to be very focused on domestic servants which doesn't apply to me because I would obviously not be in a domestic setting.

I have found this similar question which differs from my situtation as the person in question is going to apply to a non-profit in New York.

Specific details that may help:

  1. I am an Irish citzen that lives in London currently.

  2. I have recently graduated a MSc in Control Systems Engineering.

  3. I can fund myself for the duration of my stay in the US.

  4. I do plan to return home at the end of my visa if I recieve one.

If anyone has any advice or guidence I would appreciate it greatly.

  • An H-3 is a trainee/intern visa type, but as an Irish citizen in London you may have trouble showing that "The proposed training is not available in the foreign national’s native country"... – brhans Jul 18 '18 at 19:45
  • 5
    Part of the problem here is that unpaid internships like this often aren't legal unless the focus is really educational in nature, not work. That's not to say they don't happen, fairly often, but working for a company that is unconcerned with following labor and immigration law is a major red flag, particularly as engineering internships are very often paid. – Zach Lipton Jul 18 '18 at 19:47
  • Should be moved to Expats. – nikhil Jul 18 '18 at 20:36
  • I think the odds you can find a visa to work for free at a job that should be paid (whether to a citizen or lawful immigrant) are poor. At least, I hope so. – Andrew Lazarus Jul 18 '18 at 20:47
  • Part of the reason H-1B visas are tricky to get is that the rules are supposed to protect US workers from being undercut by foreigners willing to work for lower wages. Hopefully this helps you understand the obstacle you'll face if you tell US officials you plan to work for free. – krubo Jul 18 '18 at 22:04

You should check out the answer to this question.

Working as a volunteer for a commercial enterprise is specifically forbidden under a B1 or B2 visa. It does not matter if you are paid or not - you cannot work.

The ability to do volunteer work is specifically tied to the organization being a non-profit one. The type of work is also restricted to the kind of work normally done by volunteers.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.