As an InterExchange Work & Travel USA program participant, you are required to complete an online orientation. You must complete all chapters of the online orientation prior to your arrival in the United States. The orientation lasts about 50 minutes and provides necessary information about important documents, traveling to the U.S., program regulations, housing, insurance, the cultural component of the program, safety tips and more.
You will receive your login information via email and you can access the orientation online.
If you do not receive your online orientation login, please inform the InterExchange Cooperator in your home country immediately.
Failure to complete the online orientation may significantly delay your DS-2019 Form and J-1 Visa interview.
Immigration and Work Documents
Your documents are your identification while you are in the U.S. You will need them to work and to travel. It is important that you understand the purpose of each document. Please remember to make two photocopies of all of your documents, and keep them separate from your originals!
The J-1 Visa is the sticker in your passport, issued by a Consular Officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country. The J-1 Visa allows you to enter the U.S. when you present it with your DS-2019 Form at the border or airport. You cannot obtain a J-1 Visa stamp in the U.S.; it must be obtained in your home country at the U.S. Consulate.
The J-1 Visa (together with your DS-2019 Form) allows you to:
- Enter the U.S.
- Work up to 4 months (the dates on your DS-2019 Form)
- Apply for a Social Security number
This visa does not allow you to:
- Work as domestic help in private homes, as an au pair, camp counselor, or in the medical field. Please visit the InterExchange website or refer to this handbook for a complete list of prohibited jobs.
- Extend your work eligibility or program participation
You should think of the J-1 Visa as an entry visa which allows you to enter the U.S. The expiration date on your J-1 Visa is the last date you may enter the U.S., not the last day you can work, although they may be the same.
J-1 Visa extensions are not possible.
- M = Multiple entries up to expiration date. If “1” is indicated, you may enter the U.S. only once.
- Expiration Date = Last date of eligibility to enter the U.S., as long as accompanied by a valid DS-2019 Form.
Your program is based on the dates on your DS-2019 Form. The dates in section #3 of your DS-2019 Form are considered your “program length.” You may work in the U.S. for the time period listed on the DS-2019 Form. You are then allowed to travel for up to 30 days after this period ends. This is referred to as the “30-day grace period.” Please consult with the U.S. Consulate in your home country and your University if there is a specific date by which you should return home and ensure that you comply with that date.
The dates on your J-1 Visa may be different from the dates on your DS-2019 Form, and the expiration date on your J-1 Visa may be later than the expiration date on your DS-2019 Form.
If the last date on your J-1 Visa is before the expiration date on your DS-2019 Form, don’t worry. You do not have to leave the country before your InterExchange program ends.
Warning: If you plan to travel outside the U.S. and then come back, you must re-enter the U.S. before the expiration date on your J-1 Visa and DS-2019 Form. Have your DS-2019 Form signed by InterExchange before you leave the U.S. You will need to mail the original DS-2019 form with a self-addressed envelope to InterExchange to obtain the travel validation signature. Please contact InterExchange to discuss your travel plans outside the U.S. before you make any plane ticket and/or hotel arrangements.
Your visa may be marked under Entries as “Multiple Entry” or “M.” This means that you may enter the United States as many times as you’d like before the date your visa expires. If your visa has a specific number under the word “Entries,” this means that you are only allowed to enter the U.S. that number of times.
If your visa has “1” entry, this means that you are only allowed to enter the U.S. once. Upon your first entry into the U.S., your single entry has been used, and you may not exit and re-enter the country for the duration of the InterExchange program.
Remember: Regardless of the dates, the J-1 Visa alone does not give you the right to work or stay in the U.S. The J-1 Visa is only valid with a valid DS-2019 Form. Under the J-1 Visa, you are allowed to work in the U.S. temporarily, but you will not be allowed to stay in the U.S. past your program length.
The U.S. Department of State prohibits Work & Travel USA participants from performing the following jobs:
- Positions that could bring notoriety or disrepute to the Exchange Visitor Program
- Sales positions that require participants to purchase inventory that they must sell in order to support themselves
- Domestic help positions in private homes (e.g., child care, elder care, gardener, chauffeur)
- Pedicab or rolling chair drivers or operators
- Operators or drivers of vehicles or vessels for which drivers’ licenses are required regardless of whether they carry passengers or not
- Positions related to clinical care that involve patient contact
- Any position in the adult entertainment industry (including, but not limited to jobs with escort services, adult book/video stores, and strip clubs)
- Positions requiring work hours that fall predominantly between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am
- Positions declared hazardous to youth by the Secretary of Labor at Subpart E of 29 CFR part 570
- Positions that require sustained physical contact with other people and/or adherence to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Universal Blood and Body Fluid Precautions guidelines (e.g., body piercing, tattooing, massage, manicure)
- Positions that are substantially commission-based and thus do not guarantee that participants will be paid minimum wage in accordance with federal and state standards
- Positions involved in gaming and gambling that include direct participation in wagering and/or betting
- Positions in chemical pest control, warehousing, catalogue/online order distribution centers
- Positions with traveling fairs or itinerant concessionaires
- Jobs that do not allow participants to work alongside U.S. citizens and interact regularly with U.S. citizens and to experience U.S. culture during the workday portion of their Summer Work Travel programs
- Positions with employers that fill non-seasonal or non-temporary job openings with exchange visitors with staggered vacation schedules
- Positions that require licensing
- Positions for which there is another specific J Visa category (e.g., Camp Counselor, Trainee, Intern)
- Positions with staffing agencies, unless the placements meet the following three criteria:
- Participants must be employees of and paid by the staffing agencies
- Staffing agencies must provide full-time, primary, on-site supervision of the participants
- Staffing agencies must effectively control the work sites (e.g., have hands-on management responsibility for the participants)
- Positions in the North American Industry Classification System’s (NAICS) Goods-Producing Industries occupational categories industry sectors 11, 21, 23, 31-33 numbers.
As your J-1 Visa sponsor, InterExchange will verify conditions of your work and will fully vet your initial or new host employer before you may start your work.
All positions for Work & Travel USA participants are to be seasonal and temporary and should provide regular communication and interaction with U.S. citizens and allow participants to experience U.S. culture.
The DS-2019 Form identifies InterExchange as your program sponsor. It describes the purpose of the program and states the time period that you are allowed to work. Your DS-2019 Form is proof of sponsorship for a J-1 Visa. You are allowed to work ONLY with a valid DS-2019 Form and only through the dates listed in Section #3 on your DS-2019. Your J-1 Visa is only valid with the DS-2019 Form.
Important! InterExchange cannot extend your J-1 Visa.
Call InterExchange if you have questions about your visa. Immigration Officers may not have the most complete and up-to-date information.
If you are coming to the U.S. by air or sea, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will record your arrival electronically. We recommend that you access and print your electronic admission record (I-94 record) by visiting www.cbp.gov/i94 and entering the required information as it appears on the travel document you used to enter the United States.
Your travel document (e.g. passport)
If you cannot access your electronic I-94 arrival record online or your admission to the U.S. was recorded incorrectly, please contact a local CBP Deferred Inspection Site or Port of Entry (POE) to have your I-94 record corrected. To locate the closest CBP Deferred Inspection Site, visit the CBP's locator.
For more information about the electronic I-94 admission record please visit the I-94 Frequently Asked Questions and Fact Sheet.
A CBP officer will also provide you with an admission stamp, usually on the same page as your J-1 Visa.
The admission stamp includes:
- The date of admission (your arrival date)
- Class of admission (J-1) and
- Admitted until date (D/S)
The admission stamp is very important. Please make sure that your passport is stamped correctly and inform the CBP Officer if there are any errors!
You have entered the United States on a J-1 Exchange Visitor’s non-immigrant Visa, sponsored by InterExchange. Although you are a student in your home country, you are considered an Exchange Visitor in the U.S. You should ALWAYS have copies of the following in your possession:
- Your passport, with the J-1 Visa sticker and the admission stamp
- Your DS-2019 Form
- Proof of accident and sickness insurance
- A print-out of your I-94 arrival record. Print your I-94 arrival record once you’re in the U.S. by visiting www.cbp.gov/i94
Note: Keep your original documents in a safe place.
Since you will be working in the U.S., you will first need to apply for a Social Security card. If you already have a Social Security number you do not need to apply again. Make sure to bring your card with you to the U.S.
Important: After you apply, it will take between 4 to 6 weeks for your Social Security Card to arrive. You are allowed to work while you are waiting for your card. If your employer has questions about your ability to work because your card hasn’t arrived, ask him or her to call InterExchange at 1.800.621.1202.
If you need to apply for a first-time Social Security card, you will apply in person at a local Social Security office. Use the Social Security Office Locator, to find the closest office. To apply for your card, you must bring the originals AND two photocopies of the following documents:
- Photo page of passport
- Visa page of passport with admission stamp
- DS-2019 Form (make a photocopy of both front and back)
- Form SS-5 (application form)
- Dear Social Security Officer Letter
Important: When you apply for your Social Security Number (SSN) you will get a receipt letter; make a copy of it for your personal records. Give the original receipt letter to your employer when you arrive. The receipt is proof that you have applied for a Social Security number.
PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL ID AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION
Your Social Security number is a lifelong number that is yours alone. Do not allow others to use your number. Record your number in a safe place in case your card is lost or stolen. Protect both your card and your number to prevent misuse.
If you have any questions or lose your card, please call the Social Security Administration’s toll-free number, 1.800.772.1213, or visit their website. You can also call InterExchange for guidance at 1.800.621.1202.
Important: You will not be issued a Social Security number if you do not register in SEVIS. You must register as soon as you arrive in the U.S. Participants need to wait at least 3-4 business days after registering in SEVIS before applying for a Social Security number.
Applying at a Social Security office: Most Social Security offices are only open Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Avoid the busy hours from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. if possible.
If there is no Social Security office close to your job site, you may consider applying for your number upon arrival in the U.S., in one of the major cities (New York, Chicago, Boston, etc.). If this is the case, you should prepare all documents prior to your arrival. Since people normally apply for Social Security cards near their place of employment, an officer may tell you to wait and apply once you have reached your job site. You may explain that there is no Social Security office near your job site. Therefore, you should apply in your arrival city. If the officer does not believe you, politely ask for a supervisor or the manager.
If you are applying for a new or replacement Social Security card in New York City, you must visit a Social Security Card Center. For the New York City area, there are Card Centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.
Bronx Social Security Card Center Serving Bronx County
820 Concourse Village West, Second Floor Bronx, NY 10451 Hours: Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed on Federal Holidays
Brooklyn Social Security Card Center Serving Kings County
154 Pierrepont Street, Sixth Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Hours: Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed on Federal Holidays
Manhattan Social Security Card Center Serving all ZIP codes in Manhattan
123 William Street, Third Floor New York, NY 10038 Hours: Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed on Federal Holidays
Queens Social Security Card Center Serving Queens County
155-10 Jamaica Avenue, Second Floor Jamaica, NY 11432 Hours: Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed on Federal Holidays
Social Security offices in other major cities:
Boston, MA 10 Causeway Street, Room 148 Boston, MA 02222 Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., except Wednesday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
San Francisco, CA 1098 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except Wednesday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Los Angeles, CA 1122 N Vine Street Hollywood, CA 90038 Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except Wednesday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Houston, TX 8989 Lakes at 610 Drive Houston, TX 77054 Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., except Wednesday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Chicago, IL 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Suite 300 Chicago, IL 60604 Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except Wednesday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
More Social Security office locations are listed on the Social Security Administration's website.
Remember! Read all instructions BEFORE you fill out the application. Here are some tips:
- Use your employer’s address as your mailing address, including the name of your employer’s business. (If you are an independent student, you may put InterExchange’s address. We will mail your Social Security card to your job site. Do this only if you are allowed to come to the U.S. without a job.)
- For question #5 (CITIZENSHIP), check the box labeled “Legal Alien Allowed To Work.”
- For question #9A (MOTHER’S NAME AT HER BIRTH), write your mother’s family name when she was born, or her name before she was married.
- You can leave #6, #7, #9B and #10B blank.
Social Security Application Process
SSA = Social Security Administration
When you arrive at your job your employer will give you an I-9 Form, also known as I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form. You must fill out this form. This form notifies the U.S. government that you are allowed to work in the United States. You need to show your passport, J-1 Visa, printed I-94 admission record and DS-2019 Form to your employer when you fill out this form. You are only required to fill out Section 1. Your employer will complete Section 2. Remember to fill out Section 1 using your U.S. work address.