Frequently Asked Questions

What is involved in the application process?

Complete an online application by clicking the ”Apply Now” button in the right-hand column. After you submit some background information about yourself, we will email you a password granting access to our online application system. Upon receipt of a completed application and all supporting documents, Cultural Vistas will contact qualified candidates to set up an interview.

Do I need to speak German?

We expect participants to have at least a basic knowledge of the German language. Should your host company determine that your work environment is mostly in English, this requirement can be waived; however, please note it is in your best interest to know your host country’s language. If further language training is required prior to your internship, we recommend the Carl Duisberg Centren (CDC) language schools in Berlin, Cologne, Radolfzell or Munich.

How much is the program fee and what does it cover? What additional costs can I expect?

The program fee of $400 ($75 application fee + $325 program fee) includes work authorization and assistance with other bureaucratic matters, a pre-departure mailing, support throughout the program in Germany and in the United States, and a reentry guidebook upon completion of the program. The participant is responsible for airfare, housing, meals, and transportation within the host country. Additional costs for insurance and a language course may apply. Insurance can be purchased through Cultural Vistas (currently for $50 per month), and four-week language courses including accommodation and breakfast are available at a cost of about $1,900 (varies based on the current exchange rate).

Are graduating seniors and recent graduates eligible for the program?

We are unable to accept applications for graduating seniors and recent graduates. Participants in the program must be enrolled at a U.S. or Canadian (for Canadian citizens) college or university for the duration of their internships. If it is possible to extend your graduation date to accomodate this requirement, we would be happy to invite you to apply. You may be interested in the Independent Work Abroad Program in Switzerland, which is open to graduates.

Does Cultural Vistas offer scholarships?

Scholarships are available through the Cultural Vistas Scholarship Fund to U.S. citizens and permanent residents (Green Card holders) who have already been accepted to the program. Applications for scholarships may be requested upon acceptance to the program. Priority will be given to need-based participants and those with unpaid internships.

Will I receive a refund if I don’t find an internship?

Yes. The program fee paid (less the $75 non-refundable application fee) will be refunded if you are accepted into the program and are unable to locate an internship. You may also wait until your internship is confirmed before applying, if this allows for a total processing time of six weeks.

Does Cultural Vistas find an internship for me in this program?

Participants of the Independent Work Abroad Program find their own internships and Cultural Vistas provides them with the necessary paperwork and general support. If you are interested in our placement programs in Germany, please visit the Summer Internship Program in Germany and Internship Program in Germany pages.

How long does it take to process my work permit and where can I pick it up?

The processing time for your work permit varies depending on the time of year. On average, the documentation is issued in three to four weeks and will be sent directly to the contact person at the host company you indicated in your application.

Do I need a visa?

U.S. citizens are able to enter and stay in Germany for up to three months with their U.S. passport. If participants remain in the country for more than three months or complete a paid internship, they need to apply for a residence permit at the local Ausländerbehörde once in Germany. (More information on required bureaucratic procedures in Germany is provided in our pre-departure mailing.) Non-U.S. citizens are responsible for any visa required by the German government. Cultural Vistas will provide non-U.S. citizens who need a visa for Germany with supporting documents verifying their participation in the program. Please see our Germany Visa Information page for more information.

Do I need insurance coverage?

All participants must be insured while abroad. They can choose to either keep their current U.S. insurance or purchase international insurance through Cultural Vistas at an additional cost.

What is the duration of the program? Can I extend my internship?

The duration of the Independent Work Abroad Program in Germany depends on the conditions you negotiate with your employer. It is possible to extend the internship in accordance with your host company. The work authorization associated with the program can be extended to a maximum of twelve months in total and is only valid for the internship for which it has been issued.

Where will I live during the program?

It is your responsibility to secure your own living arrangement. Finding housing in a foreign country is certainly a challenge; however, it is an important part of the internship experience. Most companies will help if you tell them that you need assistance. If the company is unable to assist you, please contact Cultural Vistas and we will try to help you whenever possible. You will receive guidelines for finding housing in Germany from Cultural Vistas before you depart. Popular housing options include shared apartments with other students or interns.

Will I have an opportunity to travel while interning abroad?

Cultural Vistas encourages you to explore as much as possible during your time abroad; however, please keep in mind that you are an employee at a company. Therefore, you are expected to maintain a consistent presence at your internship and abide by your employer’s expectations.

Will I receive school credit for my internship?

Credit is given at the discretion of each respective college or university. Be sure to speak with a coordinator at your school before beginning the internship to arrange proper credit. Cultural Vistas is able to provide a letter certifying participation in the program should the university request it. Please contact us for assistance.

Will I need to pay taxes in Germany or the United States?

Tax deductions from your gross income may amount to approximately 30% for paid internships, depending on the amount of compensation. Participants may be eligible for a partial refund of taxes paid. Unfortunately, due to legal issues, Cultural Vistas cannot offer tax assistance to its participants.