The article describes the essential characteristics of internationalization in higher education, peculiarities of universities innovative development; analyzes the objectives, principles, forms and results of the U.S. universities international activity; distinguishes the conditions for effectiveness of universities international activity and justifies its impact on the innovative development of all aspects of the U.S. universities activity. It is shown that internationalization as a leading trend of higher education development creates opportunities for its modernization, innovation, provides mobility, improves the availability and quality, expands international cooperation. Internationalization serves as an important factor of innovative development of higher education in the USA, which is a cyclical process based on the interaction and interdependence of creation, dissemination and absorption of innovation; acts as both a strategic objective and a means of the U.S. universities international activity. It is found that international activity at American universities is considered as one of the tools of foreign policy issues, maintaining leadership and ensuring the competitiveness, innovative development not only of education, but also the country as a whole. International activity of the U.S. universities is complex and multifaceted, it is integrating into all activities of universities and serves as a factor of their innovation. Its main forms are collaborating with other universities, businesses and international organizations. Important results are academic and scientific mobility, development of internationalized curricula and more. The initial principles of its organization are integration, innovation, intensification, mobility, transferability, democracy, tolerance, multiculturalism, flexibility. Strategy of obtaining profit serves as a benchmark in the organization of international activity of the U.S. universities. The main objectives of the U.S. universities international activity are: improving the quality of education, creating global competencies, development of international benchmarking activity, the use of advanced ideas of international experience, international cooperation with universities in other countries, the export of educational services, international technology transfer and more. The effectiveness of the university international activitiy and ensuring its innovation are achieved by defining its strategy and tactics, the presence of individual units and professional project managers, development of internationalized curriculum and innovative educational programs of the university.