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International Interns

As an international visitor to the Smithsonian, there are some additional considerations regarding your participation in an internship. This section provides useful information to help you answer your questions about coming to the Smithsonian as an international intern.


Once OIP approves your appointment in SOLAA, you will receive an email with detailed instructions for returning your paperwork. Depending on your country of citizenship and country of residence for tax purposes, your required forms may vary; however, all foreign nationals will be required to complete and return the following initial documents:

  • Award Letter
  • Banking Information*
  • Foreign National Request Form
  • Statement of Intention to File a US Income Tax Return
  • Passport
  • Copy of Social Security Card or ITIN (if applicable)
  • Foreign Visitor Visa Tax Questionnaire

*Banking Information

If your internship appointment is longer than 3 months and based in the United States, you will be required to open a US bank account and complete the Electronic Funds Transfer Form (EFT).

If your internship appointment is less than 3 months, then you have two options to receive your stipend payment:

  1. Open a US bank account (or Panamanian bank account if based at STRI) and complete the EFT form
  2. Complete a Wire Transfer Form (wire transfer fees may apply)


Smithsonian Immigration Sponsorship

The Office of International Relations (OIR) is a designated sponsor of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.

Please note that if you are seeking J-1 status through OIR, it is recommended that you begin the process at least two months prior to the start of your internship to allow for visa processing times at embassies and consulates abroad.

OIP works in tandem with OIR in order to process foreign national appointees, and OIP cannot financially process an appointment without proof of valid admission and the accompanying DS-2019 form.

Please note in order to obtain a J-1 status, you must be able to demonstrate access to at least $2,000 per month funding for the duration of your internship.

For more detailed information about OIR's policies, procedures, and timelines, please visit the Office of International Relations website.


International Applicants Already in the US

Even if you already hold a non-immigrant status/visa, all foreign nationals must complete and submit the Foreign National Request Form and send it to OIR prior to the start of their appointment.

OIR will need to verify the individual is eligible for a Smithsonian placement. Once OIR verifies eligibility, our office will work with you to collect the necessary documents to verify your status.



Using the forms you provide, our office will determine the percentage of your total stipend that will be withheld for tax purposes. Your tax withholding depends entirely on your country of residence for tax purposes, length of tenure, and non-immigrant status.

Not all appointments will be taxed. Your stipend will not be taxed if you satisfy one of the following two conditions:

  1. You are a citizen of a country which has an income tax treaty that applies to internship appointments
  2. You have passed the IRS Substantial Presence Test

Interns with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Since STRI is located in Panama, some of the immigration rules and paperwork requirements differ from those required by the United States. We encourage you to visit the STRI website for guidance and next steps. 

Unpaid Internships

Some international internships are not supported with a stipend. In the event that your internship is unpaid, you are still required to complete the Foreign National Request Form. 

In addition, you should contact your Unit Coordinator to coordinate your schedule and project, and to understand requirements for a background check for network and/or building access.

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