Obtaining a visa to work legally in a country is likely to be your first consideration if you have been offered an internship or work experience abroad.
Keep in mind that the information below is not a comprehensive guide to visas – only the most popular destinations are included – and visa regulations are constantly changing.
You must do your own research into what visa you require.
This is particularly important during the pandemic as international movement can be very problematic.
- Many internships have to be taken whilst enrolled in full time study or within 12 months of graduating.
- The term “internship” is widely used in the US and UK but may not be used in relation to working in other countries, or may be used in different ways.
- Investigate where the consular/visa services operate and check processing times well in advance. Some countries now have official partner organisations which handle visa applications (agents) and this information is available through the Embassy’s website.
- Check carefully whether any “visa waiver” would cover you for doing an internship or work experience, or whether this only applies to visitors.
- Visa processing times vary but you should allow plenty of time to obtain the necessary visa and apply as early as possible. Some countries may prohibit applications more than a certain amount of time in advance of travel.
- You may have to make a personal visit at some stage during the visa issuing process. Most establishments are based in London but some have satellite offices in other major cities (eg Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh).
- It is likely that you will need a letter from the receiving institution/employer, or formal sponsorship.
- Some countries will allow volunteering on a tourist visa. Check to see what visa is required.
- If you require a letter from Oxford University, the Internship Office at the Careers Service may be able to provide this. Please email email@example.com.
- You may also need evidence of your finances, address where you will be staying, travel insurance, confirmation of return travel.
- Even if you do not require a visa for the country concerned, you may still need to have all the relevant documentation about the internship available to present at border control.
- Please note that the Internship Office cannot offer advice on which visa type to apply for.
Although we refer to a placement through the Summer Internship Programme as an ‘internship’, some countries have different definitions of internships and this will be a determining factor regarding the visa you need. If you have secured a placement with a not-for-profit organisation, for less than 90 days and will not be paid, this could be classed as a ‘volunteering experience’ and some countries would allow volunteering to be undertaken on a tourist visa. Even if you are awarded a bursary via the University towards your travel/living costs, this is not classed as a wage.
We advise that you contact the organisation you will be working with for help, as they may have had other interns and will be able to advise which visa is required.
- As part of the visa process, some students will require a Letter of Support detailing their participation in the Internship Programme. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your requirements and the Internship Office can send you a signed copy.
- Occasionally students are asked to provide Proof of Enrollment. All of these letters can be obtained through Student Self-Service and not through the Internship Office.
- Students who need documents for their Year Abroad will need this signed by the Year Abroad Office, who can be contacted at email@example.com.
Advice by country
See the webpage of the Australian Embassy to the UK for more information (or the equivalent for your home country).
WORK EXPERIENCE WITH FOR-PROFIT COMPANIES
Students undertaking internships at for-profit companies may require a Vitem V visa, which is an internship visa sponsored by an exchange institution (much like an American J-1 Internship Visa). This category is applicable when the internship is intermediated by a recognized student exchange institution, such as IAESTE or AIESEC.
You will need to obtain a Police Certificate which will take between 2 and 10 days. For further information, see the website of the Consulate General of Brazil in London (or the equivalent for your home country).
WORK EXPERIENCE WITH AN ACADEMIC INSTITUTION
For students undertaking internships which are sponsored by an academic institution, such as the University of Sao Paulo, you will need a Vitem IV internship visa. Having this visa will allow you to have full access to the student facilities, such as gym, food hall and student hospitals. However, nationals of Argentina, Austria, Chile, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Suriname, The Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, and United Kingdom do not require this visa for stays under 90 days.
Bearers of this type of visa must register with the Brazilian Immigration authorities at the Federal Police within 30 days of arrival in Brazil, and submit a copy of the visa application form, which will have been stamped and returned to them by this Consulate.
See the webpages of the Canadian government for information.
Students undertaking internships in France or with a French organisation outside France will require a Convention de Stage. The Internship Office can supply this signed document in French or English for any internship for current students at the University of Oxford.
Finalists/recent graduates: To help students secure internships immediately post-finals we can also supply a signed Convention de Stage to leavers who start an internship before the Michaelmas of the following academic year. If you are a finalist or recent graduate and you need a signed Convention de Stage, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that the internship office will only sign an Oxford University-approved Convention de Stage. Current students (non-finalists) can download the approved Convention de Stage template. Please fill in the details and email email@example.com for a signature.
Please note that when undertaking an internship in France you are entirely responsible for your own insurance (both medical, accident and third-party liability). It would also be advisable for you to obtain an EHIC card if you do not already possess one.
All foreign nationals require a visa to enter India. You will need to apply through their agent VFS Global. An ‘Intern Visa’ is required for an unpaid internship. Details about this type of visa are also available on the Indian High Commission website.
You will need an invitation letter from the host organisation plus a letter from your Oxford college/department, or from the Internship Office. Note that the visa you receive will be ‘single entry’, so you will not be able to leave India and re-enter during its period of validity. If your internship will be paid, or if you are going to be working for an NGO, you may need an Employment Visa (please note the link takes you to the pages intended for UK citizens).
If you are planning an internship in Italy and the company asks for an agreement form, the Internship Office is able to sign this for current students (including placements obtained outside of the Summer Internship Programme). However, finalists and alumni must obtain these from their respective colleges.
If you need an Italian Agreement Form please fill in the template and email it to the Internship Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Normally it would take around 5 working days to process a request. During COVID the turn-around time can be up to two weeks.
All visa applications (including employment) for Russia are handled through the Russia Visa Centre. After completing the online application, all applicants must attend a drop-in appointment at the Visa Application Centre in London.
Many companies offer “internship” opportunities in Russia, though they tend to concentrate on language skills.
The main documents required:
- A letter of invitation from the Russian Federal Migration Service or a telex from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- At least 6 months validity left on your passport after the expiry of the work visa issued
- A valid HIV certificate
- To ensure speedier processing of your visa, you should provide proof of residence in the UK for the previous 90 days.
Acuerdo de Practica: Internships taking place in Spain, or with a Spanish organisation, will also require documentation, called an Acuerdo de Practica. Like the Convention de Stage, the Internship Office can now supply this signed document in Spanish or English for any internship (including placements obtained outside of the Summer Internship Programme). However, finalists and alumni must obtain these from their respective colleges.
If you need an Acuerdo de Practica please fill in the template and email it to the Internship Office at email@example.com.
Students working with a profit making company, whether paid or unpaid, need a J-1 internship visa. These can be hard to acquire if the company you are working for has never been through the process before. You need to be sponsored by an approved organisation which specialises in sponsoring interns. The designated sponsors supervise the application process and are the main point of contact throughout the exchange programme process. The sponsor will need to provide you with a DS-2019 form which is required when you apply for your J-1 visa.
Useful information can be found on the US government webpage.
The visa application will involve applying online (DS-160 non-immigrant application) and an interview at the US Embassy. There is information on applying on the US Embassy website.
You will probably be required to provide supporting documents, which are likely to include:
- the DS-2019 form from your visa sponsor
- evidence of your study in the UK (though this may be covered by your DS-2019 form)
- current passport
- photograph – you will need to have uploaded a photo onto your DS-160 application form
- evidence that you have enough money for your stay, eg bank statements (though this may be covered by your DS-2019 form)
Be careful to look out for information indicating specifically what evidence is required during your application process.
An example of an organisation which sponsors US interns is Interexchange, but please note this is provided as an example and not a recommendation. You should make sure that you use an organisation that is approved. It is likely that a fee will be charged.
UK/EU citizens undertaking an unpaid volunteering placement with a charity, for fewer than 90 days, may be able to travel to the United States with a visa waiver, but it is best to seek advice from your internship provider.
CIBT Visas has good visa information by country. (This is a commercial site, not officially endorsed by the Careers Service).
For more infromation on embassies in the UK, see the government list of official embassy websites.