You’ve been approved!
Here’s what you should be doing now:
Prior to your U.S. Arrival
Apply for your J-1 Visa:
- Take a look at our J-1 Visa Application Steps.
Read the Participant Handbook:
- This includes important information and the rules you are required to follow throughout your program.
After your visa has been approved:
- Book your flights!
- Book your temporary accommodation.
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 $55 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.
- Pack your passport (with your J-1 visa), DS-2019, and DS-7002 Training Plan in your carry-on luggage. You will need 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.
- 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, go apply at a Social Security office.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you plan to travel internationally during your program, you’ll need to get a travel validation signature on your original DS-2019.
- Don’t forget, you can’t be outside of the U.S. for more than 30 consecutive days!
- Read through our tips on staying safe and healthy throughout your program.
U.S. Cultural Resources
Inside the USA Guide:
- Check out our helpful guide about life and customs in the United States!
- 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.
Peer Mentor Program:
- The Peer Mentor Program connects you with a fellow intern who is already in the U.S. and who may be able to answer your questions.
- To sign-up, complete this brief questionnaire.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
Important Information for J-1 Participants from the U.S. Department of State
- Welcome Letter: Read the U.S. Department of State welcome letter for interns and trainees!
- SEVIS Fact Sheet: Learn how to maintain valid immigration status while on the program by reading through the SEVIS Fact Sheet.
- The Exchange Visitor Brochure: Learn about protecting your health and safety, as well as the rules of the J-1 program.
- The Wilberforce Pamphlet: You should also read about the Rights and Protections for Temporary Workers in the United States.