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I am struggling to work out the appropriate visa to apply for.

My situation is as follows:

I am currently completing my Masters of Social work in Australia as a full time student. A compulsory part of the degree is a 500 hour (roughly 3 month) unpaid placement within an organisation I am planning to complete this in New York with an organisation that has indicated their willingness to take me on for 500 hours as required by my Australian university. I am unsure of the correct visa to apply for as I will not be engaged with any American university (student visa), nor will I be a paid worker of the organisation (working visa).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • Is the organization a US corporation or is it an international organization (for example a UN agency)? – phoog Jan 11 '17 at 12:22
  • Duplicate on Travel where there are two answers. – mkennedy Jan 11 '17 at 18:59
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Based on the Travel site accepted answer

  1. If you want to stay as a visitor in the United States over 90 days you need a B1/B2 visa.

  2. The volunteer situation is well described in https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/47943/is-volunteer-work-allowed-in-the-us-while-visting-under-the-vwp (VWP or B1/B2 is the same):

The most significant restriction is that you can only volunteer to do things that are normally done on a voluntary basis, i.e. without pay.

You also can't do "anything that would benefit a commercial enterprise", and there are restrictions on things like unpaid internships. However assuming that the Planetary Society of Pasadena is a not-for-profit you should be fine.

See links at that answer.

In my opinion, and understand that I am not an USCIS officer and I do not even play one on TV, you have a pretty solid case to get this visa if

  1. you can provide credible proof you have enough funds for a stay in New York this long. At least $20 a night for accommodation (expect to live in a cupboard under the stairs) and at least $10 to eat a day (hope you like ramen, anything better will be rare at $10). A more realistic number is $50 a day, at least. So 3000 or rather 5000 USD at 100 days.

  2. the organization provides a letter, preferably notarized, stating their intent towards your placement and their non-profit status.

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