Frequently Asked Questions
When are international students available?
Summer staff arrive from May through July and can work until September. Winter staff arrive in December and can work until March or April, and spring staff arrive in March and can work until June or early July. InterExchange Work & Travel USA students are legally allowed to work a maximum of four months.
Where do seasonal international staff come from?
Our students come from more than 65 countries. Summer staff generally come from Northern Hemisphere countries and winter staff comes from Southern Hemisphere countries. For employers hiring 15 or more staff members each season, we also arrange customized Recruitment Tours to different countries every season.
Can the students speak English?
One of our objectives in the overseas interviews for Job Placement participants is to evaluate the English level of our applicants. You will receive an assessment of each student’s English communication skills on his or her application. In general, the English level of InterExchange students is high. However, fluent knowledge of English is not a requirement for participating in our program. As a benefit of the program, students enjoy constant exposure to English, which helps improve their conversational abilities dramatically.
I’m originally from “X” country and I specifically want students from my home country to work for me. How can I arrange this?
Because our program offers students from more than 60 countries the opportunity to improve their English and gain a unique understanding of culture in the U.S., we discourage hiring students from your native country. Employers may be tempted to speak to their students in their native language, and this practice is an obstacle for a young person who is excited to improve his or her English skills.
How much does it cost to participate?
InterExchange does not charge program fees to host employers. Participants pay program and insurance fees, flights, interview fees, etc.
What types of positions can international students fill?
Our participants can fill a variety of entry-level, short-term positions, including retail staff, waitstaff, kitchen staff, counter staff, maintenance, housekeeping, dishwashing, and ride operations.
Are there any restrictions on the jobs that international students can hold?
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.
How will the staff I hire get to my business?
If you have hired staff through our Job Placement program, your InterExchange Work & Travel USA representative will contact you to determine which route (bus, plane, train) you recommend. We give each student custom instructions on how to get to their job site, including recommended times and schedule information. If you hire staff directly through our Self-Placement program, you must communicate with them about their transportation to the job site. All InterExchange Work & Travel USA students are responsible for their own transportation costs.
Will I need to pay the students’ travel costs?
No. All Work & Travel USA students are responsible for their own transportation costs.
Can a student obtain more than one job?
Although students may have more than one job, they should seek to maintain a healthy work and life balance and incorporate cultural excursions, contact with Americans, and improving their English as important aspects of the program.
How many hours per week can the student work? What if a student requests overtime?
We tell the students that they should expect to work approximately 35 to 40 hours per week. The amount of hours after that is negotiable depending on the availability of additional work. Overtime compensation laws differ in each state and should be closely followed. We ask that employers give a clear indication of the schedule that students can expect, so that we can present that information to the students in their job offer.
Wages & Taxes
What should I pay international staff?
You should pay what you would pay an American employee doing the same job, always adhering to state minimum wage laws. Information on prevailing wages can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.
Do I have to provide housing?
While providing housing for students is not mandatory, InterExchange Work and Travel USA asks that you provide or arrange affordable housing for staff in close proximity to the job site.
Do students have Social Security cards?
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 four to six weeks.
How should international staff fill out their W-4?
All InterExchange Work & Travel USA students are required to pay federal, state and local taxes. According to the IRS, students should use their U.S. address, claim single 1 and fill in “NRA” for non-resident alien in line 6 of the W-4.
Are international staff exempt from paying taxes?
No. All InterExchange Work & Travel USA students are required to pay federal, state and local taxes. While participants 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, InterExchange Work & Travel USA students are considered non-resident aliens. International staff must file a tax return and are often eligible for a refund.
Are international staff exempt from Social Security, Medicare tax and unemployment withholdings?
InterExchange Work & Travel USA students are non-resident aliens on a J-1 Visa. While they are subject to federal, state and local taxes, they should not have Social Security, Medicare or federal unemployment withheld. Please consult a tax professional to see if students are exempt from state unemployment taxes in your state. For more detailed tax information, please review the IRS’s Employer Tax Guide and Publication 515 at www.irs.gov.
Do international staff get a W-2 form?
Yes, W-2s should be mailed to them in their home countries as early as possible. Ask your staff to address an envelope that you can use for this purpose. This will help ensure you have their correct international addresses.
Insurance and Medical Issues
Do my international staff have health insurance?
All InterExchange Work & Travel USA students are required to have accident and sickness insurance for the duration of their stay in the U.S. This coverage is not the same as regular health insurance. Each student has been provided with insurance details and information about doctor visits, emergencies, and how to file a claim.
What if a student becomes ill during her or his stay in the U.S? How is a claim filed?
Students will have a pamphlet and claim form inside their arrival kit. This information will contain the policy number, contact telephone number, and description of coverage. Assist your students with finding a local doctor who accepts the insurance before they need one.
Always inform InterExchange of any serious injuries or illnesses. Read more information on our website.
What if a student is injured on the job?
InterExchange Work & Travel USA students are protected by the same labor laws as U.S. citizens. Like any other employees, all job-related injuries are covered by Workers’ Compensation. Employers should refer to their Workers’ Compensation insurance policy or broker.
If an employee who does physical work is injured and can no longer work in that position, be sure to file a Workers’ Compensation claim. We ask that you find an alternative position for that student. If this is not possible, please contact our office so that we can try to arrange another placement.
J-1 Visa Information
What is the J-1 Visa?
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 that promote the sharing of knowledge and cultural understanding.
What is the DS-2019 form?
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.
What if the student wants to stay and work past the dates on the DS-2019 Form?
InterExchange can only assist the student in obtaining the J-1 Visa to participate on our program. Under no circumstances can the J-1 Visa or the work permission be extended. A student who continues to work after the date on the DS-2019 Form is working illegally!
My international staff member’s visa expires before the last date on his or her DS-2019. Is he or she still eligible to work?
The dates on the student’s DS-2019 are the dates he or she is eligible to work. Students are allowed to be in the country 30 days after the last date on the DS-2019. The dates printed on the J-1 Visa describe the period of time during which the student is allowed to enter the U.S. Once the visa has expired, the student is not allowed to re-enter the U.S. This means if the student wants to travel to Canada or Mexico and then return to the U.S., he or she must do so before his or her visa expires. The dates on the visa do not describe the work period. Please refer to section 3 in the DS-2019 Form for details on your student’s last day of work eligibility.
What rules and laws apply to InterExchange students?
International students are subject to the same laws and regulations as their U.S. counterparts. If there are additional rules for employee housing, they are expected to respect them. As a proprietor and an employer, you are entitled to set guidelines on behavior at your job site, e.g., employees may not drink or smoke on the premises. Other than these rules, our students are under no additional restrictions.
Support During the Program
What if I need help or have any questions during the season?
Please call us at 1.800.621.1202. InterExchange office hours are 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. There is also a 24-hour emergency assistance line for employers and students: 1.917.873.5877.
What if I need more students mid-season?
By mid-season, most of our placements are finalized. It is not uncommon for students to seek second jobs; you may want to call our office, and we can give you information on other employers in your area who may have students who would welcome the opportunity to take a second job. It is important for you to keep in mind that the student’s primary responsibility is to the first employer. Additionally, some students may finish their work commitment and realize that they would like to work until the end of their legal work period. Sometimes, further employment is not available with their original employer. In these cases, we often “relocate” students in areas where the tourist season allows for an extended period of work. If you are able to accommodate these students, please feel free to contact InterExchange. We keep a list of those employers who have mid-season openings.
My international staff member is exceptional. Can I employ the student for a fifth month?
No. InterExchange Work & Travel USA students are allowed to work a maximum of four months. The 30-day period at the end of the program is only for travel. It is illegal for them to work during the travel period.
What if I’m not satisfied with my InterExchange student employees?
One of the primary points covered during orientation is job performance. We emphasize to students that although we can find them jobs, it is up to them to work satisfactorily in order to keep their jobs. If you feel that a student is not meeting your expectations, we ask that you first talk to the student to see what might be the problem. Talk to students about their work performance and let them know what your expectations are and how they can improve. If they are shown how to improve and your expectations are clearly explained, they will most likely improve.
If the situation has not changed after you have attempted to speak with your student, we ask that you call our office to inform us of the problem. We will ask to speak with the student and will try to improve the situation. If, after all efforts have been made, you are still disappointed with his or her performance, we ask that you call us again to let us know that you will no longer be employing the student. One suggestion that has proven successful is a performance bonus, rewarded to exemplary workers. These bonuses are incentives for students to put extra effort into their jobs.
What if a student wants to return next year?
We do give priority to first time applicants; however, each year we do accept a percentage of returnees. Students who want to return on our program, but arrange their own jobs, must apply through our Self-Placement program. A letter offering employment (on your company letterhead) or a completed Employment Agreement Form should be sent to the applicant and should include pertinent information about wages, duties, employment dates, and accommodation.
If I am participating in E-Verify, how do I proceed with the E-Verify process if my international staff member has not yet received a Social Security number? Sometimes international participants have not received their Social Security numbers prior to starting work (allowed under the regulations of the J-1 SWT program).
If a newly hired employee has applied for, but has not yet received an SSN, attach an explanation to the employee’s Form I-9 and set it aside. Allow the employee to continue to work and create a case in E-Verify using the employee’s SSN as soon as it is available. If the case was not created by the third business day after the employee started work for pay, indicate the reason for this delay in E-Verify. You may choose a reason from the drop-down list or state a specific reason in the field provided.
What if the employee never receives a Social Security number before returning to their home country?
You would notate this scenario on the memo with the Form I-9 as well.
Is there a penalty for the employer or negative impact on the employee if the employee never receives an SSN and thus never successfully completes E-Verify?
No. You are required by law to complete the Form I-9. E-Verify is secondary. If you are enrolled in E-Verify and the Department of Homeland Security sees that cases are not being run, they may contact you to ensure you understand the requirements of E-Verify. E-Verify is not an enforcement/penalty program.
Read more about E-Verify.
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