Visiting Undergraduate Students

Each year, Purdue welcomes students to its campus who are enrolled in degree programs at universities and institutions around the world, as part of a unique kind of visiting scholar appointment. These visitors are sponsored through Purdue's J-1 Exchange Visitor program in the 'student intern' category. 

What is a Student Internship?

A structured and guided work-based learning program for a post-secondary student intern ... that partially or fully fulfills a student's post-secondary academic degree requirements; recognizes the need for work-based experience; provides on-the-job exposure to American techniques, methodologies, and technologies; and enhances the student intern's knowledge of American culture and society.

22 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section 62.2 Definitions


Conditions and Limitations of Student Internships

A Student Intern is a special immigration category intended for specific circumstances. 

  • Student Interns must
    • Be enrolled, and in good standing, in a degree-granting post-secondary program outside the USA
      • Most of the student interns who visit Purdue are undergraduate students in their home country or country of last residence, and thus we commonly refer to these student interns as Visiting UnderGraduate Students (VUGS).
      • Students who are enrolled in Masters or Doctoral programs in their home country or country of last residence also may visit Purdue as a Student Intern; however, they also are eligible for visits in the J-1 Short-Term Scholar category or J-1 Research Scholar category, which are categories that have fewer restrictions and more benefits. 
    • Have verifiable English language skills sufficient to function on a day-to-day basis in the internship environment, and 
    • Intend to return to their institution abroad at the end of the student internship, and more specifically return to the academic program in which they are enrolled, to complete the program and obtain their  degree.
  • The activity undertake in the USA as a Student Intern must
    • fulfil at least part of their requirements for the grant of their degree. In practical terms, this means the activity undertaken in the USA must result in credits being awarded to the student or alternatively, the student is confirmed to have completed a required element of their degree program such as a mandatory residence or internship component.
    • Be primarily intended as a vehicle for the student to acquire new skills through practical experience and mentorship in a supportive setting; it is not intended as an opportunity to engage in employment in the USA, to perform services that normally would constitute paid employment within the industry or university, or to result primarily in a benefit to the host or department. The focus of the internship is what the student gets out of the experience, and less on what the department or host gets out of it.
    • Expose the student intern to American techniques, methodologies, and technology that expand upon the the student's existing knowledge and skills.  
    • Be undertaken on a fulltime basis. Part-time student internships are not permitted. Fulltime is considered 40 hours per week. International Scholar Services strongly discourages internship activities that routinely exceed 40 hours per week.
  • The visit to the USA must in part be intended to promote mutual understanding by fostering the exchange of ideas between foreign students and their American counterparts.
  • The maximum duration of the visit to the USA is 12 months for each degree/major. This means that as the student advanced in their education and enrolls in higher or diferent degree programs abroad, additional student internships at Purdue might be available.

Extending and/or Ending a Student Internship

Extending a Student Internship

As noted above, a Student Internship is generally up to 12 months in duration. If a student intern's program is less than 12 months, then in theory the program might be extended. However -

  • The next phase of the student internship generally must identify goals, objectives and tasks that are new to the student and which advance the student's understanding in a meaningful way or introduce the student to new skills or knowledge. A program cannot be extended simply so that the student may do more of the same for longer.
  • If the extension is needed because the original goals, objectives or tasks for the internship were not timely completed, then this needs to be explained. In general, hosts are obligated to advise International Scholar Services that a program is not advancing as intended before it nears the original end date, not once the scheduled end is approaching.
  • The extended program must additionally fulfil the requirements of the student's degree program in their home country. In other words, the student should have received the expected credit for the originally planned internship, and additionally receive more credit for the extended plan. 
    • If the student intern's degree requirements are fully satisfied with the original student internship, then the student's eligibility for student internship participation has ended.

Ending a Student Internship

At the end of the Student Internship, the law requires student interns to return home to receive their degree. It often happens that participants in Purdue's Visiting Undergraduate Student programs have so enjoyed their visit to Purdue and the USA, that they have sought admission in a graduate degree programin the USA. 

US immigration is structured so that specific kinds of activities are authorized by specific kinds of visa status. The J-1 Student Intern category is a completely separate and distinct immigration category from the J-1 Student Category, despite the similarity in terms. The J-1 Student Intern category authorizes activities only as a student intern and no other activity. It does not authorize participation in a graduate degree program in the USA. Moreover, because of the limitations of SEVIS, it is not possible to move from the J-1 Student Intern category into the J-1 Student category. 

If you are planning to enroll in a degree program in the USA at the anticipated end of your student internship, please consult with the Designated School Official (DSO) in the ISS office of the school you intend to attend.