When coming to the U.S., there are some safety measures you should be aware of to allow you to have the best experience while here. In general, the U.S. is a very safe place, however it is always a good idea to keep safety in mind, especially during travel.
There are some things you should be aware of during your time in the U.S. such as:
- Do not hitchhike--it is illegal and dangerous
- Never accept rides from strangers or unmarked taxis. Know the number of a local cab company that you can call when needed.
- Do not jog or walk alone at night.
- Do not carry your passport on you if you do not need it, and never give your passport to anyone to hold for you.
- Protect your personal ID and confidential information. Your Social Security Card is yours alone; do not allow others to use your number. Record your number in a safe place as well in case it is lost or stolen.
- Do not respond to emails from strangers or transfer them money online.
- Be cautious of your surroundings when using an ATM—try to use ATMs inside banks or drugstores rather than on the street.
- Never wire money to anyone you have not met or with whom you do not have a legal and binding contract.
- Apartment rentals that require you to wire money are most likely a scam—secure an apartment upon arriving in the U.S. so that you can meet and pay the landlord in person.
- Do not use drugs—they are illegal in the U.S.
- The legal age for purchasing and consuming alcohol in the U.S. is 21.
- Be careful when drinking alcohol; do not drive or get into a car with anyone who will be driving after drinking.
- Always wear seatbelts when in a car and a helmet when on a bicycle.
- Make sure you know where the nearest hospital is to where you are living, and make sure that you select a primary care doctor so that you will have one available when needed.
When you applied to the program, you had to provide proof of sufficient funds to support yourself financially throughout the program. If you no longer have funds available, contact InterExchange immediately so that we can help find a solution. Under no circumstances should you do anything illegal in order to remain in the U.S. If you ever feel that your only choice is to resort to something like money muling or prostitution, know that you should not and do not have to do this! InterExchange can help you.
Money Mule: A money mule is a person who transfers stolen money or merchandise from one country to another, either in person, through a courier service or electronically. The term is commonly used to describe on-line scams that prey on victims who are unaware that the money or merchandise they are transferring is stolen. In these scams, the stolen money or merchandise is transferred from the victim's country to the scam operator's country. Most of these scams are hidden through other types of online fraud such as job advertisements for "money transferring agents" or a scammer posing as an attractive member of the opposite sex. You should never accept money or any type of packages from anyone. Money muling is illegal, and people you think are friends may be involving you in a scam. Strangers and even your friends should always transport their own money and packages themselves.
Prostitution and Human Trafficking: Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. Prostitution comes in many different forms. Sex trafficking, is defined as using coercion or force to transport an unwilling person into prostitution or other sexual exploitation. While in the U.S. or traveling, be aware of your surroundings. Be cautious if a person or car is following you. If a person is following you on foot, cross the street and survey your surroundings. If anything happens be sure to bring as much attention to yourself as possible to scare the person away.
Only InterExchange and the U.S Government have the authority to end your program or cancel your visa. If anyone threatens to cancel your visa unless you do something for him or her, please understand that this is illegal and he or she does not have the power to do this. You have rights, and you should never feel like you have no choice but to do something illegal or something against your will.
Please remember that you always have options in every situation. The first step is to call InterExchange immediately so that we can help you. If you ever feel that you are in immediate physical danger, call 911 right away and then contact InterExchange as soon as the police have come to assist you.
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.