InterExchange is pleased to provide these resources about our Work & Travel USA program. If you require additional information about the program or would like to speak to an InterExchange representative, please call 1-212-924-0446 or email us.
Applications & Forms
Employer Registration Form [PDF] (Updated December 2011)
Employer Inquiry - Online Form
Employment Agreement Form [PDF] (Updated November 2012)
Job Description Form (Updated January 2012)
Employer Letter [PDF]
Social Security Letter [PDF]
Social Security FAQ
Work & Travel USA Overview [PDF]
Employer Handbook [PDF]
Employer Handbook [eBook, 2013 version] - Note: It may be necessary to download an eBook reader app on your mobile device in order to open this document. Check your device for free downloads that are appropriate for your use.
Cultural Activity Ideas for Hosts [PDF]
Student Availability Chart
U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) - this link will open a new tab to the U.S. gov't. website in your browser
Frequently Asked Questions
We want to make it as easy as possible for you to participate in Work & Travel USA. You can find answers to some of our employers’ most frequently asked questions below. If you have any additional questions, please call us at 1-800-621-1202. We’ll be happy to speak with you.
General Information about Hiring International Students
Questions about Wages and Taxes
Insurance and Medical Issues
J-1 Visa Information
Support During the Program
Social Security FAQ
General Information About Hiring International Students
Q. How much does the InterExchange Work & Travel USA program cost?
A. Nothing. Work & Travel USA is a free service to employers.
Q. What countries do Work & Travel USA students come from?
A. Our students come from more than 65 countries. Summer staff generally comes from Northern Hemisphere countries and winter staff comes from Southern Hemisphere countries. For employers hiring 15 or more staff each season, we also arrange customized Recruitment Tours to different countries every season. Find out more about requirements for participating in these tours.
Q. When are the staff available?
A. Summer staff arrive between May and July and can work until September or October. Winter staff arrive in December and can work until March. Students are legally authorized to work for a maximum of 4 months. See Student Availability chart
Q. Can the students speak English?
A. Yes. The level of English ability ranges from basic to fluent. You will receive an assessment of each student’s English abilities on his/her application before you hire them.
Q. What types of positions can international students fill?
A. Our participants can fill a variety of entry-level, short-term positions, including retail staff, wait staff, kitchen staff, counter staff, maintenance, housekeeping, dishwashing, and ride operations.
Q. Are there any restrictions on the jobs that international students can hold?
A. International students on the Work & Travel USA program are prohibited from working in the following areas: child care, medical/patient care, domestic work (such as a housekeeper in a family’s home), camp counselors, flight attendants, and any job that jeopardizes the student’s well-being and/or safety. See the full list of prohibited positions.
Q. How many hours per week can students work? What if a student requests overtime?
A. Students usually work between 35 and 40 hours per week. The amount of hours worked after that is up to you and the student. Overtime compensation laws differ in each state and these laws apply to our students. We ask you to indicate the basic schedule and hours you require, so that we can tell our students what type of work schedule to expect.
Q. Will I need to pay the students’ travel costs?
A. No. All Work & Travel USA students are responsible for their own transportation costs.
If you have hired staff through the Job Placement Program, InterExchange will ask you for the best route for students to get to your location from New York City, where students attend orientation. You can recommend travel by bus, plane or train, and InterExchange will give each student customized directions, which include travel instructions and times. Job Placement students spend 2 nights in New York City upon their arrival in the USA and are instructed to call you from New York City to confirm their travel plans.
If you hire staff through our Self-Placement Program, you must communicate directly with your staff about their transportation to the job site, but you are not responsible for paying their costs.
Q. Can a student get more than one job?
A. The J-1 Visa allows students to work at more than one job. However, students in our program are told that their primary obligation is to their Work & Travel USA employer.
Wages and Taxes
Q. What should I pay international staff?
A. You must pay international staff what you would pay an American employee doing the same job, while adhering to State Minimum Wage laws.
Q. Do I have to provide housing?
A. Employers do not have to provide housing, but we ask that you at least help staff arrange affordable housing in close proximity to the job site.
Q. Do students have Social Security cards?
A. Yes. The students must apply for Social Security cards when they arrive in the U.S. InterExchange will assist them with this process as part of their orientation in New York City. The students will receive a receipt that shows that they have applied for a Social Security card. The card should arrive within 4-6 weeks.
Q. Are international staff exempt from Social Security, Medicare tax, and unemployment withholdings?
A. Staff on a J-1 Visa are considered non-resident aliens. They should not have Social Security (FICA), Medicare, or federal unemployment (FUTA) taxes withheld. International staff may be exempt from state unemployment taxes in your state. Your tax professional will be able to advise you about this. For more detailed tax information, please review the IRS’s Employer Tax Guide and Publication 515.
Q. Are my international staff exempt from paying taxes?
A. No. All staff are required to pay federal, state, and local income taxes. Although international staff are all university students in their home countries, the IRS does not consider them students while they are in the U.S. For tax purposes, Work & Travel USA students are considered non-resident aliens and must file a tax return. Students are often eligible for a refund at the end of the fiscal year.
Q. Do I have to provide international staff with a W-2 form?
A. Yes. W-2 forms should be mailed to students in their home countries as early as possible. Ask your staff to give you a self-addressed envelope when they are filling out their W-4. This will help ensure you have their correct international address when it is time to send their W-2.
Insurance and Medical Issues
Q. Do my international staff have health insurance?
A. Yes, they are required to have health insurance for the duration of their stay in the U.S. Work & Travel USA makes sure that participants have insurance coverage in the U.S., and provides insurance for those who need it at a small fee. Students pay for their own insurance before arriving in the U.S.
Q. What if a student becomes ill during his/her stay in the U.S.? How is a claim filed?
A. InterExchange arranges insurance for all Work & Travel USA staff. We have insurance contact information on file, including the policy number, contact telephone number, description of coverage, and claim instructions. If a student needs assistance regarding his/her healthcare or becomes ill and cannot work, please contact our office.
Q. What if a student is injured on the job?
A. International staff are protected by the same labor laws as U.S. citizens. All job-related injuries are covered by Worker’s Compensation. Please refer to your Worker’s Compensation insurance policy.
J-1 Visa Information
Q. What is the J-1 Visa?
A. The J-1 Visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa that allows foreign nationals to live and work in the U.S. as part of cultural exchange programs to promote the sharing of knowledge and cultural understanding.
Q. What is the DS-2019 form?
A. The DS-2019 form is proof of sponsorship for a J-1 Visa. The DS-2019 form identifies InterExchange as the student’s program sponsor, describes the purpose of the program, and states the time period that the student is allowed to work. The student is allowed to work only with a valid DS-2019 form and only through the dates listed on the DS-2019. The J-1 Visa is only valid with the DS-2019 form.
Q. What if the student wants to stay and work past the date on the DS-2019 form?
A. It is illegal for a student to work past the date on his/her DS-2019 form. Under no circumstances can the J-1 Visa or the work eligibility period be extended.
Q. One of my international staff’s visa expires before the last date on his DS-2019. Is s/he still eligible to work?
A. The dates printed on the J-1 Visa describe the period of time during which the student is allowed to enter the U.S . The dates on the student’s DS-2019 are the dates he or she is eligible to work. The dates on the visa do not describe the work period.
Q. What rules and laws apply to InterExchange students?
A. International staff are subject to the same laws and regulations as their U.S. counterparts.
Support During the Program
Q. What if I need help or have any questions during the season?
A. Just call us. We’re available 24 hours a day. Call at 1-800-621-1202 during office hours (9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. EST, Monday to Friday) or call our 24-hour emergency assistance line at 1-917-873-5877.
Q. My international staff member is exceptional. Can I employ them for a 5th month?
A. While it’s not unusual for employers to be extremely satisfied with international staff, the students are only able to work for up to 4 months. While the students may stay in the U.S. for an additional 30 days to travel, it’s illegal for them to work during this time. If you need additional international staff for your season, we will be happy to help you fill those positions.
Q. What if I’m not satisfied with my InterExchange staff?
A. If you feel that a student is not meeting your expectations, we ask that you first talk to him/her and make your expectations known. We have found that a frank discussion about work performance often solves the problem. InterExchange is also available to talk to the student. In some cases, the student may not be aware of the problem or how to do a better job. If the situation does not improve and you need to terminate him/her, please call InterExchange so that we can assist the student.