Timeline for Cooperators

Due to the pre-arrival placement requirement of the U.S. Department of State, job placements will take place much earlier than in the past for countries with no visa waivers. Students for the summer season need to be enrolled in the program by February 1st, and students for the winter season need to be enrolled by September 1st. Job offers should be submitted along with supplementary documents. DS-2019 Forms will be released to the International Cooperator when the placement has been secured and screened, and the contract between the IC and InterExchange has been submitted.

Stage 1: International Student Recruitment

A. Determining Student Eligibility and Program Suitability

To participate in the Work & Travel USA program, students must:

  • Be between 18 and 28 years old at the time of the interview.
  • At the time of application, be enrolled in and attending an accredited institution of tertiary (university) education as a full-time student. You are responsible for confirming student status before the home country interview. If you have questions about what “tertiary” education or “full-time” means, please contact InterExchange before the interviews.
  • Have good English speaking and comprehension skills or a demonstrated motivation and ability to improve and communicate without the assistance of translation resources. We will not accept students with poor English skills who are not able to care for themselves during their program or understand their rights.
  • Have sufficient accident & sickness insurance coverage, arranged through InterExchange.
  • Be able to work for at least three months.
  • Have a genuine interest in meeting American people and experiencing U.S. culture.

NOTE: You are responsible for obtaining specific up-to-date Summer Work Travel guidelines from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where students will apply and must be familiar with U.S. Department of State Regulations; please see www.usembassy.gov

B. The Application Process

Beginning in winter 2013, InterExchange changed to an online web-based application system. We no longer accept any Runtimes. ICs will invite participants to complete online applications and upload application documents through the web.

Students must create international web-based email addresses and include them on their applications for their employers and InterExchange to contact them. We recommend Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail. Students must check email regularly for messages from InterExchange. A student will not be able to successfully participate in the program without a valid email address.

When filling out the application form, students must:

  • Ensure that all information is clear for input into our database. All names should be spelled and printed exactly as they are in the students’ passports. DS-2019 Forms are printed directly from the data sent by the participant. For any required reprints of DS-2019 Forms due to mistakes in the data provided, you are responsible for paying fees for both the reprints and shipping.
  • Complete their own applications! Sometimes students will ask a friend with better English skills to complete their applications. However, it is important that each application convey a sense of the student as an individual.
  • Answer all questions completely.
  • Write about work or volunteer experience (if they have none, they can write about work around the home, or describe their enthusiasm and willingness to work hard).
  • State clearly their city and date of birth. We will need this information when we complete the DS-2019 Form.
  • Write the date in U.S. format MM/DD/YYYY, (e.g., July 5, 2010 is 07/05/2010).
  • Digitally sign the participant agreement.

Reasons for rejecting a Job Placement application:

  • The student has poor English skills.
  • The student is not committing to working for three months (special situations will be considered on a case-by-case basis).
  • Job and/or location choices do not reflect understanding of the program.
  • The Work Experience field of the application is empty.

International Cooperators must:

  • Agree to adhere to Sponsor guidelines for screening and training of all employees and representatives engaged in promoting the program in the home country.
  • Agree that it will not allow anyone who has a criminal background or who has violated the immigration laws of the USA to be involved with selection and screening of Participants or handling of visa documents. Furthermore, no such person with a known background of criminality or abuse of American immigration laws will be allowed to apply to the program.
  • Agree to thoroughly screen potential Participants and document interviews that are conducted in-person. Only accept applicants into the program who comply with regulations and guidelines, and who have a realistic chance of success in meeting the objectives and aims of an enriching and rewarding cultural exchange experience.
  • Assist Participants with the application process by clearly explaining the requirements of the program and the distinctions between the different types of programs offered (Self-Placement, Job Placement, Direct Hire, etc.).
  • Agree that it will not recruit Participants in areas where it does not have a legitimate local business presence.
  • Agree to advise Participant about the kinds of jobs they should not do while in the United States. Example: Pedicabs, adult entertainment, etc.
  • Agree to advise Participant about the importance of returning home on or before the date specified on their DS Form.
  • Agree to advise Participants about ways to afford the program, and steering them away from high interest loans and borrowing money from organized crime.
  • Advise Participant to respect the agreement made with the Host Employer as concerns start date, schedule, dress code, etc.
  • Inform Participant that they are invited Ambassadors of their country and being granted a J-1 Visa to come to the United States on the SWT program is a distinguished honor they should not abuse. That their conduct during the entire program should make their country and their parents proud as any negative impression will ruin the reputation of their fellow countrymen and could have lasting implications for future students wishing to participate on the program. Further, they understand that any Participant who fails to comply with the laws of the US and who violates Program rules and regulations may face expulsion from the program up to deportation from the USA. In the event that a Participant is arrested, they understand the Sponsor is not responsible for legal fees or representation.

C. Publicity and Promotion

You are responsible for all costs of advertising and for the distribution of information and applications to students. InterExchange applications and instructions are available in the International Cooperator Resource Center on the InterExchange website. You are expected to portray the program realistically and should not mislead students in any way.

Students should not expect:

  • To return home with a lot of money. The program is designed for students to earn enough to cover most of their program expenses as well as costs when traveling around the U.S. Saving a little money is only possible if they are very frugal.
  • To be on vacation. It is important that students take their contract seriously and are prepared to arrange their free time around their work schedule, not the other way around!
  • To be placed in the specific location of their choice (e.g., Vail or Cape Cod), or to be guaranteed the type of job they most want (e.g., waiter or front desk).
  • To work as a ski instructor in Colorado or a waiter in New York City. They will probably be a housekeeper or dishwasher in the summer and a housekeeper in the northeast in the winter.

International Cooperators:

  • Agree to use its own company name, telephone number, and website in any marketing material and clearly indicate that the International Cooperator is not a subsidiary or franchise of the Sponsor, but an International Cooperator representative of the Sponsor for the purposes outlined above in the International Cooperator’s country.
  • Agree to conduct business in a manner that reflects the commonly accepted standards and ethics of the International Exchange Community and international business practice. And agree to market the program in a manner that in no way misleads Participants as the to the true program goals, objectives, and regulations.
  • Agree to abide by the Privacy Laws of their respective countries and agree to take reasonable steps to safeguard confidential information and not sell or provide Participant information to any third-party without advance written permission and notification of Participant.
  • Agree to notify Sponsor immediately of any change in legal business status or financial solvency.
  • Agree and adhere to the payment terms set forth by the Sponsor.

All International Cooperators must provide the following:

  • Proof of business incorporation and current operating license
  • Notarized statement from bank ensuring credit-worthiness of business
  • Admission of any previous bankruptcy and all legal actions pending
  • Three references from current business associates or partner organizations
  • A Dun & Bradstreet number, obtained online at www.dnb.com
  • Outline of all previous experience conducting J-1 program activity including names of previous and/or current Sponsors
  • Outline of recruiting methods
  1. Signed Contract
  2. Copy of Business License/Registration
  3. Three Written References that include dates worked together and the type of business/ partner relationship
  4. Bankruptcy Disclosure generated by a lawyer, the bank, or any authorized official
  5. Summary of Previous Experience
  6. Criminal Background checks for all Work and Travel Staff including any employee that helps administer SWT Program and/or handles Participant money or payments, has access to students’ documents including applications and DS 2019 forms, contacts or corresponds with InterExchange regarding the SWT program, and/or communicates with the embassy or any government organization on behalf of Work and Travel.
  7. Copy of Advertising Materials that may include a written statement with recruitment methods, including copies of brochures, flyers, website, and social media accounts
  8. Copy of Foreign Entity Notarized Statement
  9. Price List: Detailed price list marketed to the WT participants. Itemize all cost to participants (includes but not limited to InterExchange prices, insurance, visa fees, etc.)
  10. Copy of invoice sent to students
  11. Copies of Program Agreements requiring student signature
  12. Copies of any training materials or orientations given to students
  13. Copy of Cancellation Policy

Orientations/Interviews are conducted by the Cooperator. Use the Orientation and Interview Guidelines in the Appendix.

Complete and sign the Interview Report included in the Appendix and in the International Cooperator Resources section of the InterExchange website. You will then need to upload the interview report to the participants’ online web application.

Please do not verify whether a student has been accepted to the program until after InterExchange has approved their applications and received appropriate answers to any questions.

Students who are rejected should not be directed to InterExchange to ask why.

Stage 2: Preparation for the Job Placement Program

A. The Placement Process

Receipt of Job Offer and Contract Form

Each student accepted to the program by InterExchange will receive a Job Offer four to ten weeks before departure.

In rare, but unavoidable cases, placement offers will only be arranged shortly before the student’s arrival. InterExchange reserves the right to cancel without refund any student who rejects a placement offer.

InterExchange sends all Job Offers through our Online Application. Participants will have to accept and electronically sign their job offer through the app.

ICs should strongly encourage students to contact their employers immediately by email upon receipt of the job offer.

B. The Importance of Cultural Exchange: Helping Participants Make the Most of the USA

Cultural exchange occurs when people gain more in-depth understanding and knowledge about another country, its culture, its customs, and its day-to-day practices through person-to-person contact. Our participants and hosts embrace this aspect of InterExchange programs and understand its importance whether they’re part of a seasonal business, a host family, or a professional environment.

The United States is often described as a “melting pot,” attracting people from countries all over the world. It is a culture that is continuously being reshaped and redefined as more people from other countries gain exposure to the country. It is also influenced by visitors who share their cultures during their time in the U.S., and by the deeper insights and favorable attitudes about American life when they return to their home countries.

Spending a summer in the U.S. is a great opportunity to learn about American life. But beyond our participants’ day-to-day activities, InterExchange also makes an extra effort to ensure that all our international participants enjoy the full benefits of cultural exchange. We make it a priority to give international visitors the opportunity to learn about U.S. culture by encouraging them to spend time with Americans beyond their co-workers, explore their host communities, visit unique cultural sites, and participate in activities that aren’t available in their home countries.

We’ve developed comprehensive state-by-state online resources to help participants explore different cultural options: www.InterExchange.org/american-culture. Everything from which museums to visit to which foods to eat to which performances to see are included.

Guide participants to read through these options and encourage them to coordinate activities as a group with friends from their country as well the new American friends they make. Encourage them to ask their supervisors and new colleagues about other ways they can enjoy their time in the U.S. and how they can bring new insights and practices back to their home countries. Most areas of the U.S. have many natural sites and activities that are unique to their areas. Tell participants to take advantage of the opportunities that are all around them!

Stage 3: Travel to the United States

Detailed travel directions will be posted to student’s online accounts and they will be able to travel directly to their employer.

Stage 4: Arrival in the United States

A. From the Airport


If students are coming to the U.S. by air or sea, their arrival will be recorded electronically by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). We recommend that students access and print their electronic admission record (I-94 record) by visiting www.cbp.gov/i94 and entering the required information, as it appears on the travel document they used to enter the United States.

A CBP officer will also provide a student with an admission stamp, usually on the same page as the J-1 Visa.

The admission stamp includes:

  • The date of admission (your arrival date)

  • Class of admission (J-1)

  • Admitted until date (D/S)

If there is an emergency, students should call the InterExchange office, or the 24-hour emergency phone at 1.800.621.1202 ext. 3.

B. Accommodation in the Arrival City

InterExchange does not book hostels. We do, however, provide a resource list of available hotels and hostels in major cities. We also have an up to date list of hotel and hostel discounts, that is available in the student’s SEVIS dashboard.


C. Social Security

Increased security measures with Social Security have made the application process and waiting period much longer. Students should expect to wait at least six weeks for their Social Security cards and numbers to be processed. If a student has any problems because he or she has not received a card or number, instruct the person to contact InterExchange for assistance. However, InterExchange is not responsible if a student, for whatever reason, does not receive a Social Security card.

To speed up the new application process, students should arrive in the U.S. with two photocopies of the picture page in their passport. After they arrive, they will have to make two photocopies (front and back) of their DS-2019 Forms and J-1 Visa with the CBP admission stamp. Students will need to give these copies to the Social Security officer with their applications at the time they are applying for cards. Self-Placement students need to be sure their employers will let them work while they wait for their numbers to be issued and their cards to be sent.

D. Traveling to the Job

Travel Arrangements

Students with jobs arranged by InterExchange will be provided with specific travel directions. The directions usually include more than one option; students may choose between the fastest way (which is usually more expensive) and the least expensive way (which is often slower).

If students need to fly to their job sites, they should arrange their travel with their host employers before arrival. For students with jobs arranged by InterExchange, any questions can be directed to an InterExchange Work & Travel USA program coordinator. Students who have found their own jobs must travel immediately to their new host employers and should be prepared with necessary funds to reach their destinations.

Important: If students choose to book flights on their own, they must follow a few rules:

  • Each student should always contact their employer to find out which city to fly into and the best time to arrive. All students should plan on arriving to the airport during normal business hours two days after arrival into New York, so that someone can pick them up.

  • Tickets must be refundable and changeable. Occasionally, the student’s job must be changed at the last minute. Many tickets bought from discount or student travel agencies have restrictions.

  • They must arrive during normal business hours! If students arrive at 10:00 p.m. or at 5:00 a.m., no one is going to be at the airport to meet them. Students should always contact their employers before booking tickets. Students must be prepared to take public transport from the airport if the employer cannot meet them.

E. Personal Protection

Advise students to be aware of the Wilberforce Act (www.uscis.gov), which protects them from human trafficking and abuse. Encourage them to become familiar with the program information available on the Work & Travel USA Participant Resource Center: www.InterExchange.org/travel-abroad/work-travel-usa/resources/

Stage 5: Working in the United States

A. Adjusting to a New Situation

Students need to be aware that they’ll be learning and adjusting to many new aspects of living and working in the United States. The well-being and happiness of our students is our first priority. It’s important to manage students’ expectations and present a realistic picture of what they will experience during the Work and Travel program. Making adjustments often takes flexibility and effort for each individual to fully engage in American culture, have a successful work experience, and make the most of the opportunity. Please spend time talking to students about being open to new experiences and taking on new challenges!

B. Resolving Problems at the Job Site

While most students are able to effectively resolve problems through proper communication, some problems require additional help to address.

Any difficulties encountered at the job site should first be discussed with the employer. Many problems are simply misunderstandings and can be resolved relatively easily.

If the employer and the student are still unable to resolve a particular issue, the student must contact InterExchange so that we can help both parties reach a better understanding of each other. InterExchange can be contacted at +1.212.924.0446 (international) or 1.800.621.1202 (U.S. only).

Students should contact InterExchange, rather than the International Cooperator, with these problems. If students contact you, ask them to call InterExchange. This is more efficient and less confusing for everyone.

C. Changing Jobs

If InterExchange finds that a student is being treated unfairly by an employer and the situation cannot be resolved, a new placement will be arranged. Since placements may become limited during the season, the student will need to be very flexible about the new Job Offer.

Any student considering changing jobs must contact InterExchange before leaving the first job. Failure to notify InterExchange is considered a violation of the program. In such cases, the student’s legal status as an Exchange Visitor may be jeopardized. InterExchange reserves the right to change job assignments if necessary.

D. Loss of Employment

InterExchange verifies one job for each student but cannot guarantee that employment will continue throughout the season; this is determined by the student and the employer.

Students must understand that InterExchange will assist in providing another job offer only if the student was terminated unfairly. Each case will be considered individually.

In all cases, students will be responsible for all relocation costs incurred for moving to a new job site or by returning home early.

E. Illegal Activities

By signing the application form, the student agrees to abide by all the laws of local, state, and federal governments of the United States. The student must maintain the standards of conduct pursuant to the intent of the Exchange Visitor Program and warrant that all information given to InterExchange is true to the best of his or her knowledge.

Any student proven to be guilty of illegal activities will lose InterExchange sponsorship and will have to return to his or her home country immediately. Students may also be prosecuted by U.S. law enforcement authorities for the illegal activity.

InterExchange does not pay for legal fees should a student be arrested or jailed.

F. Emergency Assistance

InterExchange has a 24-hour emergency phone number available to ICs and students. During office hours, Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST, participants should call the office main line at 1.800.621.1202 or 212.924.0446.

For students: When calling in the U.S., the number is 1.800.621.1202, extension 3. The emergency number should only be used in case of an emergency and should be given to all students before arrival in the United States.

G. What Is an Emergency?

  • A student missed his or her connecting flight to the United States or is lost upon arrival.

  • A serious injury or illness.

  • Any serious situation involving injury or criminal activity. In such cases, the student should call 911 or dial 0 for the operator before calling InterExchange.

Next: Appendix »

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation