You’ve been approved! Here’s what you should be doing now.

Prior to your U.S. Arrival

Apply for your J-1 Visa:

Watch the required orientation and submit the orientation quiz:

Read the Participant Resources

This includes important information and the rules you are required to follow throughout your program.

Read the Department of State’s Important Information for J-1 Participants:

After your visa has been approved:

Arriving in the U.S.


  • You can arrive up to 30 days before the program start date listed on your DS-2019. This gives you time to get settled before you begin your program.
  • You will need to pay a $63 early arrival insurance fee if you arrive more than 7 days before your program start date.
  • If you are delayed and expect to arrive after your program start date, it is very important that you contact InterExchange to let us know you will be arriving late.

U.S. Customs:

  • Pack your passport (with your J-1 visa), printed DS-2019 Form, and printed DS-7002 Training Plan in your carry-on luggage. You will need printed copies of these documents for your arrival.
  • When going through customs, be polite, smile at your customs official, and answer any questions asked.

Inform InterExchange of Your Arrival:

  • You will receive an email from us about a week before your start date with a link to our Arrival Form.
  • Once you’ve arrived in the U.S., you must complete this form or contact InterExchange within 10 days to activate your SEVIS record.

I-94 Arrival/Departure Record:

  • Your employer and the Social Security office may ask for your I-94 Arrival Record. You can access an electronic I-94 record on the CPB’s I-94 website.
  • More information on the I-94 arrival and departure procedure can be found here.

Settling In


After you’ve arrived, you’ll need to find a permanent place to live.

Social Security Number:

  • If your internship is paid, you are required to apply for a Social Security number.
  • About 5 days after your SEVIS record has been activated, submit an online SSN application. You will then need to bring printed copies of the required documents to your local Social Security office to complete your application.
  • When applying for a Social Security Number, you must bring your ‘Dear Social Security Officer’ letter in addition to other required documents. Review the video below for instructions.
  • It is wise to obtain a Social Security card while you are in the U.S., even if your internship is unpaid. Your Social Security number is valid for life.
  • You may begin interning and receive payment while your social security number is being processed.

Important Contact Information:

  • Complete this form and make copies for yourself and your family.

Accident & Sickness Insurance:

  • A few days after you’ve notified InterExchange of your arrival, you will receive your insurance card via email.
  • Check out our guide on using your insurance.


If you are going to be in the U.S. for an extended period of time or if your employer will be paying you via direct deposit, it’s a good idea to open a U.S. bank account.

Tax Forms:

  • If you are being paid, your host employer will give you two forms to complete, an I-9 and a W-4.
  • Instructions for completing these can be found on our tax information page.

Driving in the U.S:

  • You must have a valid Driver’s License before driving a car in the United States.
  • Driving laws vary by state. Check out the information on your host state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website for local driving laws.

Stay Active in SEVIS:

  • InterExchange will email you every 30 days to verify your contact information and to check-in on your program.
  • It is a requirement of your program and very important that you submit the check-in form when you receive this email.
  • If InterExchange does not receive a response to the monthly check in we may have to end your program early.


  • We’ll also email you with links to mandatory program evaluations to complete at the end, and sometimes the middle, of your program.
  • It is very important that you submit these evaluations when you receive these emails.
International Travel:
  • If you plan to travel internationally during your program, you’ll need to get a travel validation signature on your DS-2019.
  • Don’t forget, you can’t be outside of the U.S. for more than 30 consecutive days!

Personal Safety:

U.S. Cultural Resources

Adjusting to Life in the U.S:

  • Check out our helpful guide about life and customs in the United States!
  • To get the most out of your internship/training program, review our tips on how to succeed in the U.S. workplace.
  • Worried about language barriers? Watch the video below for more information on Business English in the U.S. workplace.

Cultural Compass:

  • For more information about cultural activities, transportation, accommodation, and more in your host community, go to Cultural Compass and search for your area.
  • This covers every U.S. state and territory with specific information for most major cities.

Connect with Program Participants:

Join the Career Training Participant List to connect with other InterExchange Interns and Trainees via social media!

Stay Connected:

  • Follow InterExchange on Instagram!
  • Read some of the articles on our blog.

Participant Spotlight:

  • Is the work you are doing at your internship unique and exciting? Do you want to share your experience with others in the InterExchange community?
  • Tell us about your program and we may feature you in social media and on our blog!


Grace Period:

  • You can remain in the U.S. up to 30 days after the program end date as listed on your DS-2019. You may not intern or train during this time but you are welcome to travel the country and get your affairs in order before you depart.
  • You may not travel internationally during your grace period unless you are leaving the U.S. permanently. If you leave the U.S. during your grace period, you will not be permitted to re-enter, as your J-1 Visa will have expired.


  • If you have not met the maximum length of your internship or trainee program and you are interested in staying in the U.S. for a bit longer, an extension may be possible.
  • Check out our Program Extensions page for more details.

U.S. Taxes:

  • If you were paid by your host employer, you are required to file a tax return for the calendar year during which you worked.
  • Before you end your program, please give your employer your home address or a self-addressed envelope so that they can mail your W-2 Form to you.