Guide for Work & Travel USA International Cooperators
All information in this guide is subject to change without notice. Thank you for being part of the InterExchange Work & Travel USA cultural exchange program! We look forward to having a successful experience with you.
InterExchange is a nonprofit organization with more than 40 years of experience dedicated to promoting cultural awareness through a wide range of affordable and exciting work & travel, professional training, internship, au pair, camp, language learning, and volunteer programs within the U.S. and abroad. InterExchange is designated by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor a variety of J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor programs.
As a proud J-1 Visa sponsor and cultural exchange organization, we encourage our participants and professional colleagues to learn about The Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, also known as the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. This important act enables the Government of the United States to:
- Increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange.
- Strengthen the ties that unite us with other nations by demonstrating the educational and cultural interests, developments, and achievements of the people of the United States and other nations and the contributions being made toward a peaceful and more fruitful life for people throughout the world.
- Promote international cooperation for educational and cultural advancement; and thus assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations between the United States and the other countries of the world.
To ensure a successful exchange visitor program, J-1 Visa participants and their hosts must follow all regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of State and maintain contact with InterExchange throughout their programs. A successful program also depends on U.S. hosts’ encouragement of cultural learning by introducing international exchange visitors to uniquely American values, customs, history, and activities while simultaneously learning about the countries and cultures of visiting participants. Similarly, international exchange visitors are expected to make a commitment to engaging in cultural learning opportunities in their local host communities throughout their programs. Strengthening these relationships makes achieving the goals of mutual cultural exchange possible and allows us to build a global community — one person at a time.
Work & Travel USA
InterExchange Work & Travel USA is a J-1 Visa program that offers international university students ages 18 to 28 the opportunity to live and work in the U.S. for three to four months during their summer vacation. Students work in hotels, inns, amusement parks, national parks, retail stores, ski resorts, and numerous other seasonal establishments. They receive a wage, assistance with housing, accident and sickness insurance, program support, and an optional month for travel to explore the United States. Work & Travel USA also offers a 12-month program for citizens of Australia and New Zealand.
Participants in the Work & Travel USA program must follow all regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of State and maintain monthly contact with InterExchange. During the program, we encourage all participants to take advantage of the cultural opportunities offered by their local host communities.
Other InterExchange Programs
Au Pair USA is a 12-month program that gives young people, ages 18 to 26, the opportunity to experience the U.S. by living with an American host family and providing child care. In return for their services, au pairs receive room, board, a weekly stipend, accident and sickness insurance, airfare, and an educational allowance to use toward college-level courses. This program can be extended for an additional six, nine, or 12 months after successfully completing the original 12-month program.
Camp USA places international participants, ages 18+, in U.S. summer camps in counselor positions. InterExchange also sponsors visas for returning staff or for participants who have found their own camp jobs. The Camp Counselor J-1 Visa is a 4-month visa. The InterExchange Camp USA program runs between May 1st and October 15th during the program year.
Career Training USA assists international students and young professionals, ages 18+, with J-1 Visa sponsorship for internships and practical training programs in the U.S. Candidates may apply for the J-1 Intern or Trainee Visa if they have already secured an appropriate position in the U.S. International students and recent graduates may apply as Interns and pursue an internship for up to 12 months in a field related to their academic field of study. International working professionals may apply as Trainees and pursue training programs for up to 18 months in a field related to their occupational background. To be eligible, participants’ education and work experience must have been earned outside the U.S.
Working Abroad enables U.S. citizens, generally ages 18 to 30, to build diverse work experiences overseas. Opportunities include Au Pair, English language instruction, work and travel, and volunteer abroad placements. We offer programs in Australia, Africa, Asia, South America, and numerous European countries.
The InterExchange Foundation was established in 2007 to provide grant funding to motivated young Americans who contribute to worthy work or volunteer projects abroad. The Working Abroad Grant supports participants of select InterExchange Working Abroad programs, and the Christianson Fellowship supports individuals who have sought out and arranged their own long-term work abroad programs. Many students study abroad every year, but far fewer take advantage of the opportunity to work, intern, or volunteer overseas. By providing financial assistance to talented candidates, we encourage young Americans to discover and contribute to the world and benefit from the unique and enriching insights one can only gain from living and working abroad.
International Cooperator (IC)
InterExchange is proud to work with International Cooperator (IC) companies and non-governmental organizations in more than 60 countries. Our IC network represents a cross-section of the most exceptional and trusted companies involved in promoting and recruiting for cultural exchange programs.
Our ICs introduce InterExchange programs to prospective participants in their home countries and emphasize the benefits of spending time in the U.S. to expand their knowledge of U.S. culture and personal experiences. ICs collaborate with us to fulfill the goals of cultural exchange, so our international participants can enjoy learning opportunities in the U.S., while host employers and families can meet and learn about people from all over the world. One of the key responsibilities ICs fulfill is to recruit, pre-screen, and select applicants who meet visa eligibility requirements and are prepared to make the most of the cultural exchange experience when working with host employers, families, and host communities.
In addition to providing ICs with detailed information and guidance for marketing our programs in their home countries, we also provide content for orientations to teach participants about life in the U.S. and prepare them for adapting to a new culture and country. Each in-bound international participant is interviewed by either InterExchange staff or an IC to evaluate the candidate’s ability to be successful on the program. Final acceptance into the program and program monitoring are exclusively the responsibility of the sponsor. Every IC is an important part of the process for making sure that all participants are equipped for the benefits as well as the challenges of joining one of our cultural exchange programs.
Terms & Conditions
At the beginning of each season, we ask our cooperators to return a signed copy of the IC Agreement and the required supplemental documentation prior to acting on behalf of InterExchange to recruit prospective exchange visitors. As you compile your documents and sign the IC agreement, please consider the changes you would like to make for the year ahead. Remember, all of the decisions you make will constitute a commitment for the entire season.
U.S. Government Regulations
The U.S. government requires all sponsors to have written contracts with their International Cooperators (IC), supported by documentation of business legitimacy. InterExchange will not release DS-2019 Forms to International Cooperators until the contract is signed and all supporting documents have been submitted. The supporting documents should be original and include translations for items not in English. All documentation must be updated annually. These documents include:
- A written contract between InterExchange and the International Cooperator, including prices charged by IC and InterExchange.
- Proof of business incorporation and current operating license. Agreement to notify InterExchange immediately of any change in legal business status (with translation).
- Notarized statement from bank ensuring credit-worthiness of business or financial solvency (with translation).
- Admission of any previous bankruptcy and all legal actions pending.
- Three references from current business associates or partner organizations (with translation).
- Outline of all previous experience conducting J-1 program activity, including names of previous and/or current sponsors in the U.S.
- Outline of recruiting methods and copies of advertisements.
- Criminal background clearance of responsible officers, which includes employees who administer the Work & Travel program, have access to participant documents and those who contact InterExchange or government agencies regarding the participants.
- Detailed price list. The prices should clearly state all fees, including InterExchange, insurance, embassy visa application, SEVIS, and any travel arrangement charges.
- Notarized financial statements.
- The DS-2019 Form and the electronic I-901 (SEVIS fee payment receipt of $35 not included), are necessary to apply for the J-1 Visa that allows up to four months of work in the United States.
- Handbooks, emergency assistance, and continued support throughout the season.
Services Not Provided by InterExchange
- Travel expenses or arrangements to and from the interview city in the home country
- Airfare to the United States or cost of transportation to the job location
- Cost of accident and sickness insurance
- There will be no refund for any unused portion of the student arrival services.
Accident and Sickness Insurance
Job Placement Program
- Mandatory pre-selection orientation & interview in the student’s home country. Access to employer job listings and the ability to put applications on review with an employer. InterExchange does not guarantee placement, as the employer’s hiring decision is based on English level, program dates, participant videos, and overall application. Access to InterExchange’s online orientation. This program requires a high level of commitment, as students will not be allowed to leave or change jobs without InterExchange’s knowledge and approval.
- Make sure students understand the following aspects of the Summer Work Travel program:
- The Summer Work Travel program requires that students work during their exchange program. If a student is out of work for an extended period, the person’s program will be shortened. Students out of work for longer than ten days must call InterExchange. We will assist students who need help finding work.
- Students who do not want to work during their time in the U.S. should not apply to the Summer Work Travel program. They can apply for a tourist visa instead.
- Students whose main objective is to make money should not apply to the Summer Work Travel program.
- Students are expected to participate in and demonstrate involvement in U.S. cultural and community activities.
- Mandatory pre-selection orientation & interview in the student’s home country
- Vetting and confirmation of all job offers by InterExchange
- Orientation and materials given to students before they depart from their home countries
- Access to InterExchange’s online orientation
Student Communication With InterExchange
- To ensure student safety and regulatory compliance, students must keep in touch with InterExchange throughout the program.
- Students must have a valid email address and a secondary means of contact via Skype (or similar instant messaging system).
- We verify email addresses prior to departure and participants are responsible for checking their email at least every few days if not daily.
- Students must check email and their social media accounts regularly for messages from InterExchange. Students should ensure that emails from InterExchange do not go to their junk email folder.
- All students must log into and watch the InterExchange online orientation before a DS-2019 form can be issued.
- Students must notify InterExchange immediately if they encounter problems with their jobs, housing, health, safety, or welfare.
- Students must check in with InterExchange every 30 days throughout the program. This can be completed online at the InterExchange dashboard, www.interexchange.org/sevis or by calling 1.800.621.1202 only. See the SEVIS section for details.
DS-2019 Forms & SEVIS Receipts
The DS-2019 Form
The J-1 Visa
The J-1 Visa is issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The J-1 Visa allows students to enter the U.S. when presented with their DS-2019 Form at the border or airport. The expiration date on the J-1 Visa is the last date students may enter the U.S., not the last day they can work, although they may be the same.
The J-1 Visa may be marked “Multiple Entry” or “M” under the Entries section. This means that students may enter the United States as many times as they want up until the expiration date on their J-1 Visa. If the visa has a number under the Entries section, this means that students are only allowed to enter the U.S. that number of times. If the visa has “1” entry, this means that they are only allowed to enter the U.S. once.
Travel: If students plan to leave the U.S. to travel and then come back during their program or 30-day travel period, they must re-enter the U.S. before the expiration date on their J-1 Visa and DS-2019 Form. The DS-2019 Form must be validated for travel by InterExchange before leaving the U.S.
Applying for the J-1 Visa at the U.S. Embassy
Cooperators are responsible for researching the visa requirements at the U.S. Embassy in your country and notifying students of these requirements.
Depending on the country, either the International Cooperator will present the students’ documents, including the DS-2019 and the I-901 Forms, to the U.S. Embassy, or the students will need to apply individually.
Each student must have a valid passport and is responsible for applying for the visa and for any costs associated with obtaining the visa.
InterExchange becomes the student’s J-1 Visa sponsor once they are accepted to the program. No one except InterExchange or a government agency can cancel a student’s visa.
Students must confirm the accuracy of the information on their visas as soon as they are issued. Requesting amendments is often a lengthy process.
J-1 Visa Denials
International Cooperators should inform InterExchange about any visa denials before the student’s intended U.S. arrival date.
Students seeking a refund because of visa denial must return the DS-2019 Form with proof of visa denial. The refund will be a total of program fees paid to InterExchange less an administrative fee in addition to the non-refundable SEVIS fee.
Any student who is denied a visa because he or she has falsified documents or operated under some other false pretense will be cancelled from the program without a refund.
Please do not tell InterExchange about a cancellation if the student will re-apply for a visa.
Notice of visa denials received after the student’s scheduled arrival date will receive no refund.
You must report visa denials through our online application system. However, for credits to be issued you are required to notify InterExchange via email that a participant has been denied.
I-901 Form - SEVIS Receipt
InterExchange sends invoices to ICs for the $35 SEVIS fee and will send cooperators an electronic confirmation of the I-901 Form with the DS-2019 Forms. Students will need the I-901 Form in order to apply for the J-1 Visa at the U.S. Embassy. More information about SEVIS can be found in chapter 5 of this Handbook.
As of July 2013, SEVIS no longer prints the I-901 Form to ship to sponsors. They now transmit an electronic copy instead.
Social Security Numbers
All Americans and internationals working in the U.S. will need a Social Security card. Students must apply for a Social Security card upon arrival in the U.S. The Social Security number (SSN) is used for the employer’s tax purposes, opening a bank account and applying for a driver’s license.
Students must register in SEVIS to receive their Social Security card.
Some employers will not issue paychecks to students who have not applied for a Social Security number.
Sample documents are available in the Appendix.
SEVIS Fee and I-901 Form
All students must pay an additional $35 fee to the Department of Homeland Security to help administer and maintain the SEVIS system. This fee is not refundable if a visa is denied. InterExchange will invoice ICs for this fee, which will be due upon payment of program fees. InterExchange will then send the DS-2019 Forms and the SEVIS fee receipts (I-901 Form) to ICs.
Please ensure students know that the additional fee is separate from program fees. This is not a program fee increase.
First SEVIS Registration
All students must log on to our website’s SEVIS Dashboard at www.interexchange.org/sevis upon arrival at their jobs to register their housing addresses and employment information and repeat the process every 30 days.
The best way to register is:
- On our website at www.interexchange.org/sevis
Students may also register:
- By telephone: 1.800.621.1202
All students must register, but only once they have arrived in the U.S. They should not enter their housing and/or employment information into SEVIS before arriving in the U.S. Registration must be done within ten days of their arrival in the U.S. and continuously every 30 days until departure. If this registration is not followed within these time periods the students are subject to termination. Termination status has a negative impact on a participant’s status and has an adverse effect on the Exchange Visitor’s immigration record. If terminated, students must make arrangements to promptly leave the United States or will be subject to potential law enforcement action.
Continued SEVIS Registration
InterExchange must receive the most current address for each student. Students must continually update their U.S. addresses as well as their employment addresses every 30 days; this is a mandatory requirement. Students must update information via our website at www.InterExchange.org/sevis and register the information every 30 days, even if their housing or employment information has not changed.
If a student’s housing address changes, he or she must log on to www.InterExchange.org/sevis and inform us of the change within 10 days of the change. Failure to do so will result in program termination.
Many students find new jobs once their work commitment ends with their first employer. Those students must also re-register their new housing and employment information.
Any student who has finished work and is traveling must log on to www.InterExchange.org/sevis and inform InterExchange of the date their travel period begins.
Updated SEVIS Reporting Regulations:
Students must register their information with InterExchange (via www.InterExchange.org/sevis or by phone 1.800.621.1202) upon arrival in U.S. and at least once every 30 days thereafter, even if their information has not changed.
Students must present each new job offer to InterExchange if they are changing jobs or getting additional jobs. Students must submit their new job information to InterExchange (via www.InterExchange.org/sevis or by phone 1.800.621.1202) for approval.
Each student MUST wait for InterExchange to approve any new or additional job and confirm with the new employer about the student’s hiring status. The student cannot work at a new job until this is done.
Failure to update InterExchange regarding housing or employment changes will result in termination of the participant’s program.
Social Security cards will not be processed until the student is active in SEVIS. If a student’s housing or employment address is wrong in SEVIS, or a student has failed to register at all, that student will be removed from the program. Students who fail to register or keep their information updated may be subject to arrest and deportation. The same penalties apply to those students who leave their place of employment without clear permission from InterExchange. All permission for job changes or additional jobs must be cleared with the InterExchange Work & Travel USA team in New York prior to starting work.
Penalties of SEVIS Non-Compliance
All students should arrive in the U.S. with an understanding of SEVIS regulations. Cooperators are responsible for notifying all students of these regulations. 100% registration is required. If students sent through an IC do not register as required, InterExchange may reduce the allocation accepted from that IC in future seasons.
Wages Paid to Participants
Participants are compensated at the higher of:
(i) The applicable federal, state, or local minimum wage (including overtime); or
(ii) Pay and benefits commensurate with those offered to their similarly situated U.S. counterparts.
The national minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour for non-tipped positions. For tipped positions (such as waitstaff), the national minimum wage is $2.13 per hour. Minimum wage requirements may be higher in some states.
Paychecks are typically given out every two weeks.
Students should be prepared to cover their expenses before they receive their first paycheck. (We recommend $600 or more for these initial expenses, including housing costs or travel to job site.)
Students who receive their final paychecks while traveling in the U.S. or after returning to their home countries may have trouble cashing these checks at out-of-state banks or banks outside the U.S. Arrangements should be made with the employer to prevent this occurrence.
Students who have any questions or concerns about their wages must contact InterExchange.
Students should expect to work between 30 to 40 hours per week.
Every tourist resort area has its “high” and “low” seasons. Students should expect to work fewer hours during the lowest part of the season (perhaps as few as 20 to 25 hours per week for a week or two). They may be expected to work more during the busier times (up to 55 to 60 hours per week). Students will often be working many more hours on the weekends compared to the weekdays.
Employers cannot guarantee hours if there is unexpected bad weather that affects tourist activity.
Students are not permitted to work overnight shifts or more than 12 hours in one day.
Overtime laws vary from state to state. In some states, seasonal employers may not be obligated to pay overtime or may pay overtime only after an employee has worked for a set amount of time, for example, over 56 hours in a week.
Overtime is not guaranteed. Students should not expect to work more than 30 to 40 hours a week.
InterExchange requires that employers assist in arranging safe, affordable housing before students arrive. However, there are exceptions in which students will need to find their own housing. In these cases, students will have maximum assistance from their employer and temporary housing will be arranged until more permanent accommodations can be found.
If an employer has arranged housing, it is part of the Job Offer and is not optional. Students cannot leave housing unless their work assignment has ended or arrangements have been made with InterExchange.
Cost of Housing
Information on housing will provided before the student arrives to the U.S. Rent varies by location and employer. Some housing is free. The average cost for housing is about $80 per week (in certain resort areas, housing may cost as much as $125 per week).
A security deposit may be required upon arrival for some housing. Deposits range from one week’s rent to one month’s rent (up to $400 due upon arrival).
Students should be prepared to pay for the most expensive range of accommodations, although the individual job offer will generally give precise details about housing.
Students should be aware that vandalizing or damaging housing could result in extra fees and even eviction.
Housing is basic, with little privacy.
Students almost always share a room with other employees to save money.
Bathrooms are shared with other housemates.
Some accommodations include a shared kitchen. Sometimes meals are available through the employer, depending on the business.
Students may be expected to supply their linens, cooking utensils, etc., and should ask about this before arrival.
Students may need to bike to work. Any student who bikes to work or for recreation must wear a bicycle helmet and follow safety laws and guidelines.
Students should not expect to share a room with a specific person, especially with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Many employers arrange housing by gender.
Information on finding safe and affordable housing is available to participants.
Job Placement Program Details
Let applicants know that as the J-1 Visa sponsor, InterExchange will verify the conditions of the participant’s work and will fully vet each initial or new host employer before the person may start working in the U.S.
All positions for our 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.
2012 Federal Register requires sponsors to confirm that the positions/host employers:
- Will not displace U.S. workers at the worksites.
- Have not experienced layoffs in the past 120 days.
- Do not have workers on lockout or strike.
An example of an acceptable Self-Placement Job Offer is provided in the Appendix.
In addition, InterExchange reserves the right to reject any job offer if the position jeopardizes the student’s well-being or safety or does not provide the required exposure to the culture and customs of the U.S.
What to Expect
Students in the Job Placement program are guaranteed one job offer through InterExchange. InterExchange Work & Travel USA Regional Managers email applications to our network of employers for their review. During this time, students are ‘on hold’ with a particular employer whose needs match the students’ requests as closely as possible. If the employer accepts the student, that person is ‘placed.’ Students should have a realistic understanding of what types of job placements InterExchange can provide.
The most important principle for students to keep in mind is flexibility. Students must be open-minded, as they might not get their ideal placement. Employers’ particular preferences and students’ work dates, English levels, and requests to be placed with a friend can all be limiting factors in the placement process.
InterExchange takes great care to make sure that all placements offer students a fair wage in relation to the cost of living in the area and the opportunity to have a fulfilling season in the U.S.
A sample job offer is provided in the Appendix.
What students should expect from InterExchange Work & Travel USA job placements:
- Entry level and seasonal positions. These are basic positions that do not require previous experience or professional training.
- Hard work! Most jobs require physical labor, which can be tiring and can become boring. Cleaning is a common job.
- The types of jobs that are also held by young people in the U.S. during their school breaks.
What students should not expect from InterExchange Work & Travel USA job placements:
- A job related to their studies or future career plans.
- A job with no physical work.
- To work as waitstaff, front desk, or ski instructor.
Types of Jobs Available
Students must be open to placements in at least three of the following different types of jobs:
- Housekeeping: May include doing laundry, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, changing sheets, making beds, and cleaning public areas of the resort.
- Kitchen help: Will include dishwashing! These positions often include cutting food, cleaning floors and kitchen equipment, assisting the chef, and taking out garbage.
- Maintenance: May include repair work, shoveling snow, lifting and moving furniture, cleaning pools, taking out garbage, and cleaning public areas of the resort.
- Sales Help: May include selling food or merchandise (T-shirts, fast food, gifts, etc.), working with money, assisting customers, cleaning and stocking shelves. InterExchange has few of these positions available, and they require excellent English skills.
- Amusement Park (summer only): May include cleaning public areas and bathrooms, selling fast food, and operating games or rides. Many of these jobs require working outside in the heat.
InterExchange does not guarantee that students will be placed according to their requests for types of jobs.
Since many employers feel that they need to know more about students before assigning them to a specific position, many wait until their employees have arrived to determine job assignments.
Make applicants aware that the U.S. Department of State prohibits Work & Travel J-1 Visa 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 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 involves 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, catalog/online order distribution centers;
Positions with traveling fairs or itinerant concessionaires;
Jobs that do not allow participants to work alongside U.S. citizens, interact regularly with U.S. citizens and 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-1 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 set forth by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Construction (includes specialty trade contractors)
Mining (includes oil and gas extraction, support activities for mining)
Manufacturing (food manufacturing, textile mills, apparel manufacturing, wood product manufacturing, printing,)
Natural Resources (crop production, animal production, fishing, support activities for agriculture and forestry)
Any job that jeopardizes the reputation of the program or the applicant’s well-being and safety
Additionally, InterExchange Work & Travel USA students are prohibited from working in the following areas:
- Businesses that do not have workers’ compensation or EIN (Tax ID) numbers
- Positions acquired through third parties
- Home-based businesses
- Camp counselors or any work in a camp
- Flight attendants
- Fisheries or fish processing companies
- Jobs where the student will mainly be speaking their native language
- Jobs that may jeopardize the student’s health or welfare
- Jobs where students must invest their own money
- Jobs where the participant is handling personal or sensitive information
- Positions as an independent contractor
- Positions in warehouses or factories
Let applicants know that as the J-1 Visa sponsor, InterExchange will verify conditions of the participant’s work and will fully vet each initial or new host employer before the person may start working in the U.S.
All positions for our 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.
2012 Federal Register requires sponsors to confirm that the positions/host employers:
- Will not displace U.S. workers at the worksites.
- Have not experienced layoffs in the past 120 days.
- Do not have workers on lockout or strike.
An example of an acceptable Self-Placement Job Offer is provided in the Appendix.
In addition, InterExchange reserves the right to reject any job offer if the position is deemed to jeopardize the student’s well-being or safety or does not provide the required exposure to the culture and customs of the U.S.
Job Placement Locations
Placements are generally in resort/recreation areas.
Jobs are not in cities or near cities.
Students will have the opportunity to socialize with vacationers and fellow employees from the U.S. and abroad.
Students may be dependent on other staff and new friends for car rides to stores or recreational activities.
Students have the opportunity to work in many locations throughout the U.S. and will have the opportunity to learn about the communities in which they live. When presenting information about location, make sure they’re aware of the following descriptions when deciding their preferences. Students who will only consider specific locations should try to find their own jobs, and apply as Self-Placement students.
Eastern Mountain Resorts (summer and winter)
Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Usually, these job locations are surrounded by great natural beauty and lots of outdoor activities. Many of these locations are characterized by friendly, small-town life. Some students work at family-run inns where they can really get to know guests and fellow workers well.
Eastern Ocean Resorts (summer only)
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. These locations usually have beaches with “boardwalks” (with amusements and small restaurants) nearby. Other Eastern Ocean locations are characterized by family-run inns where swimming, boating, and other activities are available.
Midwestern Resorts (summer and winter)
Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Some placements are on resort islands located in the Great Lakes. Due to the large number of rivers and lakes in the area, most resorts have water sports available, in addition to land sports such as hiking and biking. Winter sports may include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Southern Resorts (summer only)
North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. These resorts are known for their warm weather and friendly people. Most of the placements are in amusement parks with some placements in the mountains doing housekeeping and dishwashing.
Western Resorts (summer and some winter)
California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. These resorts are characterized by beautiful scenery and offer plenty of opportunities for hiking and mountain climbing. We have a variety of placements, from small inns to fast food restaurants to large hotels, so participants should be prepared for any of these kinds of working environments.
Job Placement Program - Special Requests
Special Request Jobs
InterExchange also offers some special request jobs. These placements are not guaranteed, and an applicant will only be placed at one of these locations if he or she specifically asks for it. This is because these jobs do not appeal to everyone, and there are often special requirements involved (e.g., longer commitment). An example of a Special Request Job is:
- Death Valley and Sequoia (California)
- Denali (Alaska)
- Glacier (Montana)
- Grand Canyon (Arizona)
- Mt. Rainier (Washington)
- Yellowstone (Wyoming).
National Parks hire thousands of people from all over the U.S. and the world. They require the ability to live in a rustic area. The types of jobs available are the same as in other resort areas. Students will not be working outdoors, but they can take advantage of the parks’ famous natural beauty during their free time.
Students may take a second job, as long as it does not interfere with the first job. Students must make sure that the schedules for their second jobs are compatible with their first job.
A student’s work performance should not be affected by a second job.
Students are responsible for finding their own second jobs, but InterExchange must approve the employer and the position before students can begin work.
Students should not question employers about second jobs immediately upon arrival, as the students’ primary focus should be on their original host employers’ needs.
Second jobs cannot entail overnight shifts or be in prohibited types of employment (as listed in Chapter 8).
Placement With a Friend
We do not guarantee placement with a friend.
Friend groups must be linked in the online web application system when reviewing and submitting participant applications.
Self-Placement Program Details
All participants who are applying for a Summer Work Travel visa through InterExchange must have pre-approved jobs. This includes the Self-Placement program. In this case, students obtain a job offer from an American employer directly. These jobs CANNOT be arranged by staffing agencies or third parties, as such third parties often take advantage of students to make a profit. Any involvement of third parties known to an IC must be made known to InterExchange. Failure to identify anyone not employed by an IC who is involved in participants’ jobs or housing will result in non-renewal of the cooperation agreement. Job offers must meet certain requirements to ensure student safety. The job offers are always carefully screened by InterExchange, and will be screened by American Embassies as well. We rely on our International Cooperators to pre-screen the offers as well. This helps ensure that students are placed in safe environments and reduces the rate of visa denials.
Self-Placement jobs must:
- Provide a safe location and work environment.
- Be close to safe and affordable housing.
- Be located in areas with seasonal tourism.
- Be located in areas where students will have frequent contact with Americans and practice their English.
- Be located in areas where students will have the opportunity to pursue cultural activities in their free time.
- Offer students 30 to 40 hours of work per week.
Please review and follow the procedures listed in this chapter carefully before approving the job offers submitted by students.
The following must be submitted with each participant’s online application:
- A signed and/or stamped official Proof of Student Status or document that proves that a participant has completed at least one semester or equivalent at an accredited post-secondary institution located outside the U.S.
- A photocopy or scan of the picture page of the participant’s valid passport.
- For Self-Placement participants: A signed Employment Offer and Agreement form (Job Offer) from a U.S. employer should be uploaded by the participant after submitting his or her online application. If a participant does not have a signed job offer but knows of an employer who has agreed to hire, the participant can invite the employer to complete a digital job offer through the online application. This document can be downloaded from the International Cooperator Resources section of the InterExchange website, and a sample is available in the appendix.
InterExchange calls all Self-Placement host employers to ensure that Job Offers are accurate and appropriate. A student will not be issued a DS-2019 Form until the Job Offer has been confirmed.
Students presenting Job Offers that do not meet our standards or U.S. State Department regulations will be rejected.
InterExchange reserves the right to cancel any student if, after speaking with the employer (or being unable to contact the employer), the job offer is found to be unacceptable or a housing deposit has not been paid. The student will forfeit a minimum of $50 as they will be given a CAX status of CAX Bad Job.
If any student is found to have falsified a Job Offer, that student will be cancelled from the program and forfeit the entire program fee.
InterExchange reserves the right to reject any employer who does not provide an EIN and workers’ compensation policy.
InterExchange will call each employer to verify every Job Offer. We will notify you on a daily basis of jobs that are confirmed.
InterExchange will periodically send an email to you with each student’s name and the following information:
J-OK: The job is confirmed. DS-2019 Form can be printed.
J-NO: The job is not confirmed or not acceptable. DS-2019 Form is not to be printed.
J-LM 1, J-LM2: Left messages. DS-2019 Form is not to be printed. There is no J-LM3; the job offer will automatically change to J-NO if the employer is still unreachable after the third call.
FORGED: Student forged job offer and will be canceled from the program.
Requirements for Self-Placement Job Offers
(Faxes and copies of job offers are discouraged.)
We require the job offer on an InterExchange Employment Offer and Agreement form, which should be uploaded to the participant’s online application after submission. The agreement must be signed by the employer and student and should include:
- Company’s contact address
- Valid telephone number (and extension, if applicable) and the name of the contact person
- Valid email address of contact
- Skype address or mobile number
- Description of the job
- Number of work hours
- Description of accommodation provided or assurance of assistance in finding housing
- Dates of employment
- Federal tax ID number (EIN) and workmen’s compensation insurance carrier
Unacceptable Types of Jobs
Refer to Section 7.2 for a list of prohibited job types. An example of an acceptable Self-Placement Job Offer is provided in the Appendix.
Unacceptable Types of Self-Placement Job Offers
- Group job offers
- Emailed or incomplete job offers
- Job offers arranged by a third-party staffing agency or an employment agency
Interviews for Students With Job Offers
A student who has arranged his or her own job must be interviewed by you and their interview report must be uploaded to their online application before submitting to InterExchange. A participant will not automatically be accepted if a job offer has been made by a U.S. employer. Once a job offer is sent to us, we will review it, call the employer, and notify the cooperator if the job is valid.
In order to accept Self-Placement students, InterExchange must be confident that the student understands the essentials of his or her future job and is committed to working for that employer.
Cooperators should keep a copy of the job offer with the copy of the application in their offices.
Remind students to:
- Make certain that the position is definite and that housing will be available before the interview.
- Inform the employer that InterExchange is the J-1 Visa sponsor and will be calling to confirm the offer.
- Keep in touch with the employer before arrival to make certain that everything is in order. Some of the larger resorts will offer positions to many students in anticipation that some students who accept the job may not be able to participate due to visa rejections or a change in plans. It is very important that students make their employers aware that they are definitely coming!
- Get detailed travel directions to their job site.
- Research the area they will be living in, including weather, modes of transportation, and available cultural activities.
- Get nearby hotel or hostel information in case of an emergency.
Students must inform InterExchange if their job changes or if the employer can no longer offer them a position. All job changes must be approved and confirmed by InterExchange. In the event of a job change, we will reprint the student’s DS-2019 Form to reflect the new employer. Failure to go to the approved job is deemed unacceptable and has negative consequences.
Advice to Students About Self-Placement Jobs
Every year, some students encounter problems because they did not know enough about their Self-Placement employers and job offers. Some students arrive to discover that the open position has been filled or cancelled before they arrived or that housing is unavailable. Although InterExchange calls to make sure that all job offers are acceptable, students should take the necessary steps to make sure that the position they have arranged is secure and acceptable to them.
All students (Job Placement and Self Placement) are required to successfully complete the InterExchange Work & Travel USA online orientation before their arrival in the U.S. The online orientation provides students with important information about their legal documents, arrival in the U.S., SEVIS, Social Security, insurance, safety, the cultural component of the program and U.S. laws.
InterExchange will email all participants with their individual login information and will notify International Cooperators once this information is sent. Students must use their individual logins to pass the orientation and should not watch it in groups. InterExchange will track each student’s progress and will inform ICs on a regular basis.
Students’ failure to complete the online orientation requirement before they arrive may result in their removal from our Work & Travel USA program.
(Second and Third-Timers)
Students previously on the InterExchange Work & Travel USA program often wish to return for a second time through our Self-Placement program. Rules for pre-arranging a job also apply to returning students. Before InterExchange sponsors these students’ visas, our team will verify their past participation and confirm that all program requirements were completed.
Recent Changes to the U.S. Department of State Work & Travel Regulations
Students who have been previously sponsored or placed by other work and travel agencies are eligible for our program.
There is no longer any limit to the number of repeat students who wish to participate (e.g. third-time students are eligible as long as they fulfill the program requirements).
Students who were camp counselors or au pairs are considered first-timers.
Students who were camp support staff are considered second-timers.
Terms of Acceptance for Second-Time Students
InterExchange reviews student files and contacts past employers when determining whether a second-time student will be accepted to the program.
Past students who have violated the terms and conditions of our Work & Travel USA program and have, by the judgment of InterExchange, shown themselves to be poor employees will not be considered for repeat participation.
Returning Students Must Apply as Self-Placement
Whether the Job Offer is from a previous employer or a new employer, InterExchange will call the employer to confirm the Job Offer. As with all students, if a Job Offer proves invalid or unacceptable, InterExchange will reject the student.
A Job Offer does not guarantee acceptance to the program.
All returning students must attend orientation and interviews in their home country.
Any student providing false or inaccurate information about previous J-1 Visa participation will be cancelled from the program and forfeit their program fees. ICs should attach a photocopy of each student’s passport with all previous J-1 Visas to verify the student’s status.
The Work Commitment
All students must be aware of their responsibilities as InterExchange Work & Travel USA participants. In addition to acting as cultural representatives of your country, it is also important that they fulfill their work commitments. When students are accepted to the InterExchange program, they also agree to fulfill all conditions of employment indicated in the job offer, including the hours they will work, appearance standards, and the duties of their jobs. By reading the application instructions and attending the orientation, students should be prepared for the terms of the work commitment.
Cooperators Must Support the Principle of the Cultural Component and Work Commitment
The importance of the cultural component and work commitment cannot be overemphasized. It is essential that you support InterExchange in conveying the seriousness of these concepts to all participants.
If many students from a particular country have broken their work commitments, employers often refuse to hire students from that country the following year.
Students should be discouraged from making a commitment that they do not intend to honor in hopes of obtaining a “better” job.
We can only continue with the Job Placement program if our students maintain their reputations as reliable, hard workers who stay through their contracts.
Students must be prepared to share their cultural experiences with InterExchange during monthly SEVIS check-ins.
Work Commitment Dates are Determined at the Interview
If students are unsure about how long they would like to work, they should be conservative and commit to a shorter length of time. Encourage students to be realistic and honest about the length of time that they will be willing and able to work.
Students must commit to working at least three months. The maximum period of work is four months.
Some employers will not make job offers to summer students who cannot work through at least until Labor Day or late September. For winter students, many employers expect students to stay through March, or even until mid-April. Students should only consider making this commitment if they are willing and able to honor it.
Changing the Work Commitment Date
Students can only change their work commitment dates in exceptional cases and if an InterExchange Regional Manager approves them. This approval is required whether the change occurs before the student comes to the U.S. or after being at the job.
If a student can no longer meet the minimum date requirements, he or she may be cancelled from the program.
InterExchange reserves the right to cancel a student who has jeopardized his or her job offer due to unnecessary changes in the work commitment.
Signing the Contract
Job Placement students will be offered a job through our online system. Participants must accept and sign or reject the job offer.
- Indicates exact work dates and restates the commitment to the specific employer.
- It will include job duties, salary, and housing information.
Violation of the Work Commitment
Students are considered in violation of the program if they do not make a good-faith effort to honor their work commitment. In such cases, the student’s legal status as an Exchange Visitor may be jeopardized. No student who has broken his or her work commitment will be considered for second-time participation. Exceptions will only be made if students have made acceptable arrangements with their authorized employers and received approval from InterExchange.
Accident & Sickness Insurance
It is a U.S. Department of State requirement that all Exchange Visitors are covered by accident and sickness insurance for the duration of their program.
InterExchange arranges insurance at affordable rates. We have information available regarding participant health insurance.
Insurance Arranged by InterExchange
ICs must arrange for students to purchase insurance through InterExchange.
Prices and coverage limitations will be sent to the IC.
Insurance must cover the period of time on the student’s DS-2019 Form. If students plan to travel, they must be covered by insurance since medical care is very expensive in the U.S. If a participant would like to purchase insurance for the 30-day travel period, they can inform their IC (before arrival) or contact InterExchange directly (after arrival).
We recommend that students have a dental exam before coming to the U.S., as dental care is very expensive. Dental care is not covered by the insurance unless it is a medical emergency.
Students should bring any medications they are currently taking with them, as the cost for prescription medicine in the U.S. can be expensive. The medications should include a letter from their doctor stating the medication is necessary.
InterExchange arranged insurance will not cover any medical problems or conditions that existed before coverage under this insurance began. Examples might include: sickness related to asthma, diabetes, depression, eating disorders, pregnancy/labor, routine examinations, cosmetic or dental surgery (unless it is necessary due to an accident), or any sort of eye examination. In the event that a participant is diagnosed with an illness or injury that requires ongoing treatment, he or she may be required to return to their country of origin to receive the necessary care.
InterExchange strongly advises against insurance offered outside of InterExchange programs. Our staff will not be able to provide assistance regarding insurance if students are insured with other carriers. All insurance must comply with the U.S. Department of State standards. Students must be informed that InterExchange will not have information for alternate insurance providers; the students will need to have their alternate insurance information readily available in case of medical emergency. If students are not using InterExchange insurance, they will need to submit claims directly to that provider. If students opt for alternate providers, any medical claims will be rejected by the InterExchange insurance provider.
Having insurance in addition to that arranged by InterExchange could create a conflict in claims payment and it is not advisable to have supplemental insurance that may interfere with or negate the primary InterExchange arranged policy.
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 must be enrolled in the program by February 1st, and students for the winter season must 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
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. Students must check their email regularly for messages from InterExchange. We recommend Gmail as the preferred email client. A student will not be able to participate in the program without a valid email address successfully.
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 ask a friend with better English skills to complete their applications. However, it is important that each application conveys 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 an 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 the 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 Participants about the jobs they should not do while in the United States. Examples: Pedicabs, adult entertainment, etc.
- Agree to advise Participants 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, 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 Participants that they are invited Ambassadors of their country and that being granted a J-1 Visa to come to the United States on the SWT program is a distinguished honor they should not abuse. 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 in 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 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 the following:
- To return home with a lot of money. The program is designed for students to earn enough to cover most of their program expenses and 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.
- 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 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 the Participant.
- Agree to notify the 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
- Outline of all previous experience conducting J-1 program activity, including names of previous and/or current Sponsors
- Outline of recruiting methods
- Signed Contract
- Copy of Business License/Registration
- Three Written References that include dates worked together and the type of business/ partner relationship
- Bankruptcy Disclosure generated by a lawyer, the bank, or any authorized official
- Summary of Previous Experience
- 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.
- Copy of Advertising Materials that may include a written statement with recruitment methods, including copies of brochures, flyers, website, and social media accounts
- Copy of Foreign Entity Notarized Statement
- Price List: Detailed price list marketed to the WT participants. Itemize all costs to participants (including InterExchange prices, insurance, visa fees, etc.)
- Copy of invoice sent to students
- Copies of Program Agreements requiring student signature
- Copies of any training materials or orientations given to students
- 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 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
Students should bring any medications they are currently taking with them, as the cost for prescription medicine in the U.S. can be expensive. The medications should include a letter from their doctor stating the medication is necessary.
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. However, we 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
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 Considered an Emergency?
A student misses his or her connecting flight to the United States or is lost upon arrival.
A severe 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.
Interview Guidelines And Sample Documents
(For countries where English is not the primary language.)
Most students’ English levels fall below an 8. Please mark your students’ English conservatively and let them know that strong English skills do not guarantee counter or sales help positions. InterExchange rates the participants’ English speaking abilities on the following scale:
|10||Suitable for: all positions. Normally reserved for native English speakers. Student demonstrates absolute proficiency in speaking and comprehension. Applicant is able to both understand and converse using sophisticated vocabulary and correct sentence structure.|
|9||Suitable for: all positions. Completely fluent. Sentence structures are perfect. Understands difficult questions and uses abstract terms. No problems communicating or conversing on an advanced level.|
|8||Suitable for: receptionist and all positions listed below. Nearly fluent. Responses come quickly and naturally. Has an above average vocabulary, understanding almost everything.|
|7||Suitable for: cashier, host/hostess, waiter/waitress and all positions listed below. Highly conversational English. Understands almost everything. Speaking ability is strong, just needs a little practice. Can communicate with native English speakers without a problem. Varies vocabulary, although sometimes needs to search for words.|
|6||Suitable for: concessions, game operator, ice cream vending, prep cook, and all positions listed below. Conversational English. Understands basic English vocabulary, including most common terms. Thinks quickly, but sometimes translates from mother tongue. Gets a little lost when conversation becomes abstract. Easily carries a basic conversation.|
|5||Suitable for: bus person, dishwasher, groundskeeping, housekeeping, stock clerk, and cleaner. Low conversational skills. Applicant can certainly be understood but speaks in broken English. Can respond in sentence form even if grammar and sentence structures are not correct. Applicant often translates from mother tongue.|
|4||Not suitable for program. Applicant can only understand basic English, but is able to respond even if only in words or phrases. Grammar and sentence structure are poor but understandable. Speaking ability is limited but has potential to improve with daily practice.|
|3||Not suitable for program. Applicant understands words and phrases but has extreme difficulty understanding sentences if they are spoken at normal speed. Student has very limited vocabulary. Daily practice is absolutely necessary for improvement.|
|2||Not suitable for program. Understands very little. Speaking takes a great effort. Applicant comprehends some words and phrases but has to make a big effort to communicate. No conversational skills at all.|
|1||Not suitable for program. Applicant cannot understand any conversation and knows little or no English.|
Suggested Interview Questions
- What is your primary goal for joining the InterExchange Work & Travel USA program?
- What are your future career goals? How will the InterExchange Work & Travel USA program help you to reach these goals?
- Have you ever had a job? What was the hardest / best thing about your job? Why did you find the job difficult/enjoyable?
- What is most important to you: your choice of type of job, your choice of location, or your request to be placed with your friend(s)? Please explain.
- What if you do not get your first choice of job? Is there any job you will not perform? If so, why? Is there any location you would not work at? If so, why?
- How do you feel about being separated from your friends & family for three to four months?
- What was your favorite travel experience? What did you enjoy the most about it?
- What activities outside of work are you interested in specifically?