Startuplifers On-demand is back! With On-demand, you get to take a more active, personalized approach to your U.S. startup job search compared to Reach The Valley path, where you apply directly to our simplified application and get matched with a startup job suitable for you. On-demand allows you to hunt for your dream job at your dream startup, while we offer support and take care of your visa and flights. 

In this article, we answer the most frequently asked questions we get about the On-demand program. 

Who can apply for the Startuplifers On-demand program?

Students and recent graduates from Finnish or Swedish universities or universities of applied sciences. You must be pursuing or have pursued a degree from these institutions (i.e., no exchange studies). If you are uncertain whether your university qualifies, please reach out to us.

Why do Silicon Valley/U.S. startups hire talent from Nordic universities?

The great education system fosters innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset in students. Students in Nordic countries have commonly gained work experience in their own field already, oftentimes even abroad or in a very international setting. Startuplifers alone has sent over 250 talented people from Finland and Sweden abroad. Silicon Valley companies know the benefits of hiring Nordic talent (if not, don’t be shy to highlight the benefits mentioned above) and they are happy to hire more!

How does the On-demand process work?

1.Find a company/position that excites you (requirements for startups), for example, on AngelList or Crunchbase. 

2.Apply for an open position or contact the company directly with an open application (tips for applying). Take part in our events to get even more tips for your job hunt!

3.Got a job offer? Fantastic – contact us and we will guide you through the process!

How long does the visa process take?

The rough estimate is 2,5 months. It can be more, it can be less. There are 3 steps to the process, and their timelines do not overlap:

1. Preparing the J-1 documentation and training plan, in conjunction with the J-1 host company. This will take a few weeks.

2. The DS-2019 (which is needed for the J-1 visa appointment). This takes up to one month.

3. The J-1 visa application appointment in the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki. You can check the estimated wait times here.

Which startups can I apply at?

Any U.S. startup that fulfils the following criteria:

  • 1-300 employees (CIEE requires more than 5 local employees to get the visa, but this can be figured out with fewer people as well, if everything else is ok)

  • Growing early-stage startup companies that have their own scalable product/service

  • No consultancies, creative studios or agencies

The startup pays for the process costs of ca. USD 6000 (visa, flights, legal services). 

You can find open startup jobs, for example, on AngelList or Crunchbase.

Which jobs can I apply for?

Any tech/business/design jobs at U.S. startups that fulfill the startup criteria mentioned above.

What type of visa can you provide and what are the requirements?

The visa we are able to facilitate for on-demand as well as all other positions we recruit for is the J-1 visa. This will be valid for 12-18 months, depending on your student status and work experience:

1) INTERNSHIP (INT) type; max 12 months (+ max.  2 months grace period) – for this category, the applicant should be:

  • a university student OR

  • recently graduated (within one year)

2) PRACTICAL CAREER TRAINING (PCT) type; max 18 months (+ max 2 months grace period) – for this category, the applicant should be:

  • a university graduate with at least one year experience of work from the field they graduated in and what the internship is for, OR

  • have at least five years work experience from the field they are planning to complete their internship in.

This means thatif the job contract exceeds 12-18 months, you will need to apply for an alternative visa later, e.g. H-1B.

Can I apply for the trainee visa type, if my full-time work experience in different companies exceeds 12 months?

Yes, it’s possible to aggregate several work experiences (of different employers) to meet the 1 year work experience requirement, as long as

  • the totality of the work experiences aggregate to 52 weeks of work at 40 hours/week.

  • 1+ years of that work is related to your proposed J-1 traineeship.

How much does it cost?

For the applicant (you): USD 160 Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee.

For the startup: about USD 6000. As a non-profit organization, Startuplifers only charges for the costs that arise from the visa process, legal services, and flights.  It is a good idea to inform the company about this cost early on in the recruitment process, ideally in writing.

How will I be able to finance my trip and stay in the U.S.?

Your visa and flights are covered by the company. Salary is subject to negotiation and varies across different companies and positions. You should expect a salary of USD 5000/month at a minimum  (e.g. junior developer) in San Francisco. However, many get a much higher salary based on their expertise. Also, bear in mind that the salary can be increased over time depending on your performance. With this salary level, you can be sure to be able to cover living expenses there.

I am already in the U.S. on an ESTA visa. Can I still apply?

You may be able to start the process while you are overseas, however, generally you have to be outside of the US when applying for a visa. Also, you will have to visit a US Consulate (e.g. in Helsinki) for a visa interview when you reach that point in your application process. Please contact us for more information.

Can my spouse join me in the U.S.?

Generally, yes, but you will have to handle the (fairly straight-forward) application process as well as the costs yourself.

As soon as you are officially married and as soon as your J-1 visa is handled, your spouse can apply for a J-2 visa. The J-2 visa appointment can be scheduled at the same time as the J-1 appointment, however, the marriage has to take place first.

It is also possible for J-2s to obtain work authorization. As soon as the J-2 arrives in the U.S., they should immediately apply for their work authorization card using the form I-765. However, that form can take at least 8 months to process, which would mean that the J-2 will have a long period in which they cannot legally work.  It may be a good idea to complete that form and be aware of the filing documentation to have it ready to file immediately upon arrival.

The costs will be the filing fees for the J-2 and I-765 to the US Embassy and USCIS, respectively, which should not exceed USD 800 in total.

I have a question that is not yet answered here.

No problem, we are here to help! Contact us at or read more at 

Disclaimer: All information provided here is subject to change and should not be considered as legal advice. If you have specific questions about the application process, please contact us. 

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