Post Work and Travel Options

During the Program participation, many students wonder what are the Post Work and Travel Options? Is it possible to come to the US for longer or after graduation?

The great news is that the J-1 visa offers quite a few Post Work and Travel Options! 

We will focus here on the lengthy legal stays. 

Internship and Training

Internship and Training are our first steps to discover the Post Work and Travel Options. Both programs, similarly to the Work and Travel Program, operate on the J-1 visa. The duration varies from six to eighteen months. 

Intro

These two Programs focus on the further development of your practical skills (Training) or giving you (first) work experience related to your field of studies (Internship). During the Program, you have to complete the Training Plan that describes the phases (usually 3-5 phases) that should progressively increase your skills. Typically, Programs are anywhere between 6 to 18 months.

The first requirement – being related to your education or experience is crucial.

Goals of the Program and benefits for the Participants

Throughout the Program, you will gain practical knowledge on how to operate in the Program’s field. 

Let’s take as an example the HR Program.  The course of the Program will give you detailed knowledge on how to operate in few different areas of the HR department. With a progressive Training Plan, you will see few steps of a potential career in the given field. This opportunity will let you gain lots of experience and skills from multiple department areas. 

Secondly, during the Program, you will build your international network with like-minded interns that you may benefit from in the future. 

Lastly, living in the US for such a long period will incredibly boost your English skills.

Please keep in mind that such experience elevates your resume to stand out from others! You start your career from different levels! 

Similarities

The goal of both Programs is to support the growth of young industry leaders. You will develop existing, relatable experience (Training) or knowledge from your Uni (Internship). The Program will prepare you to implement the newly adopted skills in your new workplace.

The core of the Program in both instances is the Training Plan. This multiphase document describes in detail the phases, their length, and what you achieve in each of them.  Also, the host companies are often the same ones that provide placements for the Work and Travel Program. 

Differences

The most crucial difference is the requirements – Internship bases on your education and Training on your previous work experience. Sometimes you will see the mixture of Interns and Trainees pursuing the same Training Plan at the same time. 

Secondly, the duration of the Internship is up to 12 months and Training up to 18 months.

Additional info

Note that it is complicated to participate in these programs more than once. Due to the Program regulations, the new Training Plan has to bring the progress to the previous Program. On top of that, the Program expects the Participant to implement the new skills in the home country and bans them from participation for two years (so-called 212(e) rule).

Secondly, be careful when applying to the company you have been on the Work and Travel Program a few times already. The Embassy might see it as a longer Work and Travel and deny you a visa. 

Post Work and Travel - Internship/Training
Learning new things on your Internship/Training Program

Studies, Post-Grad Studies

Studies and Post-Grad Studies are great opportunities to improve your resume and build an international network, all that while living in the USA. It is a great tool to boost your future career by showing the education that stands out from the crowd. The studies allow you to have some hours of campus work while studying. Lastly, there are OPT options for the graduates. 

Keep in mind that if you pick this option after the Work and Travel Participation, it might build your expertise in relations with the US that you will benefit from in the future. 

Studies in the US are expensive, so you will have to prepare sufficient resources.

Post Work and Travel Option - Studies
Studying outside is the best!

Camp Counselor

This option is an excellent option for the Participants that used to work at the Camp. When you want to continue the US adventures, but you have already graduated, this option looks interesting. 

To become Camp Counselor, you need to have higher than average English skills. Participants have to interact with kids daily, so make sure you are ready for that. The same Camps that host the Work and Travel Participants are also home to international Camp Counselors. 

H-1B, H-2B visas

H visas are different stories, but they might be a good post-Work and Travel option. Both of them are work visas and have special requirements. These visas are not “youth travel” but strictly labor visas, and we will only mention them here with some core facts. 

Usually, the visa grants around ten months of stay and work. What differentiates H visas is that the employer pays for everything connected to your arrival (incl. airfare, visa interview). 

H1 visa covers “specialty” employment, meaning you have to present demanded skills to be eligible.

H2 visas are non-skilled positions filling seasonal, peak time needs (H2B) or agriculture (H2A).

You can travel to the US under one of these visas multiple times. 

As you can see, there is plenty to choose from and grant you a different experience. Pick from the options above and enjoy the extended time in the US. 

Post Work and Travel Option - select the program and apply!
Pick the program, some paperwork, and off you go!

Work and Travel Paperwork – what, when, why?

Work and Travel Paperwork – what, when, why? It is not the funniest part of the program, but it is obligatory. Below you will find a description of the core documentation and “extras” in the last paragraph. 

Contract 

You start your Work and Travel Paperwork with the contract with the Agency. That is the first document you sign to turn into a participant. And this is a contract that sets the relationship between you and the Agency of your choice. The core is:

  • installments,
  • eligibility, 
  • your rights and responsibilities,
  • cancellation policy,
  • penalties, 
  • procedures. 

Please be aware of what do you sign, as some penalties might kick in without you knowing. 

Program application 

That is a document, in the paper or other form, that collects your data, required by the Sponsor. To take part in the Work and Travel Program, you must meet eligibility criteria, and Program Application has to determine if you are a good fit or not. You will attach University documents, and we described them below. 

Based on the Application, you will obtain your Certificate of Eligibility – DS2019 form – check the example here

School documentation 

You have to prepare stuff from the school for two different occasions:

For the program application purposes 

You will have to provide the documents that will confirm that you are a university student and what are the summer break dates. It is crucial to determine if you are eligible to take part in the Work and Travel Program. 

For the embassy 

You will have to present at least two types of documents:

  • valid student card with necessary stamps 
  • grading transcript 

Based on the documents and your interview, the embassy officer will decide if you can or can’t go! 

ECL – Employment Confirmation Letter

You will also be presented with the ECL – Employment Confirmation Letter, the document that summarizes what the employer has to offer to you. Please keep in mind, that Work and Travel is employment at will. The form of this document varies from Sponsor to Sponsor. One thing is certain, you will have to approve it and sign in order to further proceed. 

Visa documents

To apply for the visa, you will have to fill out the online application DS-160. With that application, you will upload your visa photo and schedule your visa appointment. The application is pretty long but make sure to answer all the questions truthfully. 

DS-160, your passport, and University papers are a must when applying for the J-1 visa. 

SSN

SSN – Social Security Number – you will apply for the number once in your lifetime. You have to fill the SSN application and attach the DS2019. Based on these, you will have your SSN issued. SSN is crucial for you to start your work and start earning money/getting paychecks. 

Extras

Be aware that some offers might require some extra documentation. The list bases on the regulations that are incorporated by your employer or the specifics of the location. The most common are:

  • Documentation to obtain a license to work 
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Credit Score 
  • References 

These are the most common extra pieces of Work and Travel paperwork you might encounter. Keep in mind to translate them to English! Secondly, some of them might be hard to obtain in your country or might require some payments to get them.

Overall, it is very wise to work on the documents as soon as possible, as you avoid unnecessary delays, stress, and occasionally loss of money. 

Work and Travel – Trips outside the US

It is already the middle of August 2020. Many of you are getting ready for the travel piece of the Work and Travel – Trips outside the US. That includes trips outside of the US. So you might wonder if leaving the country for a short period is possible or not.
When can you leave the US – plan ahead 

During Work and Travel – trips outside the US should fit between the program dates. If you pass your end date from the DS2019, the border staff will not let you re-enter the country. In other words, crossing the border needs to happen when your program is still active.

For how long can you go

Honestly, it is up to you, but keep in mind that you have to return before your program end date. Otherwise, you will not be able to re-enter the US on this particular visa.

What requirements you need to meet

There are two most important requirements – being in a “good status” and having your paperwork in order. It is up to your Sponsor to confirm that you are in a “good status” and allow you to cross the US border on the round trip.

Documents

The most important one is your DS2019 with the approval from your Sponsor. The Sponsor will admit that you are in a “good status” and that they allow you to travel outside the country.

It varies from Sponsor to Sponsor, but the most popular procedure is to send by snail mail your DS2019 to the Sponsors’ HQ and wait for the letter. Instructions should be provided even before your departure, as this is quite an important issue.

Summary

Before you go, check if:

  • the comeback will take place before the end of the program
  • you have your DS2019 with the Sponsors’ stamp. 
Have a great trip and an unforgettable summer!

Work and Travel in San Francisco

Work and Travel in San Francisco, one of the most iconic cities in the US, is a desired destination for participants. The city is a mixture of cultures, vibe, and good fun. Every visit is one of a kind as you see places you know very well from the movies but a different perspective.
Cable Cars in SF
Fun facts to check during Work and Travel in San Francisco
  • Home of multiple movies – 48HRS., San Andreas, Bullit, Bond – A view to kill, The Rock and many, many others
  • There are more dogs in San Francisco than children
  • Denim pants/jeans were invented in the Fog City by Levi Strauss 
  • Over three hundred coffee shops are in the city boundaries 
  • SFs’ Chinatown is home to 100K people and is the second-largest Chinatown in the US
  • The craft beer revolution started in 1896 in San Francisco
Stuff to see

There are tones of places to visit in San Francisco:

  • Golden Gate Bridge – probably, the most famous bridge worldwide
  • Japanese Tea Garden – chill out and relax from the city noises 
  • Alcatraz and Treasure Island – featured in many movies and with its legend
  • Cable Cars – another icon of the city – take a ride and some pictures as well
  • Wharf – great food and unrepeated skateboard spots 
  • Giants Stadium / Baseball game – eight times World Series winners! 
80The Golden Gate
Must have food and beverage
  • Mission Burrito in Mission District
  • Irish Coffee in Buena Vista Caffee 
  • Seafood in the Fisherman’s Wharf 
  • Dim Sum in Chinatown
  • Craft Beer – for those over 21 😉 
  • Sourdough bread at the Boudin Sourdough
What to avoid

In San Fran, it is best to keep alert in a couple of districts such as the Tenderloin, the Mission, and sometimes Union Square. The crime rate is similar to other big cities.

Wheater you are spending your program in The Fog City or planning your travel part of the Work and Travel program, it is a definite must-see! Iconic views, iconic places, tones of hidden gems, great food and drinks make this city a true wonder of the West Coast.

Work and Travel – tax return

After you return to your home country, you have to fill out the tax documents, and usually, you will get a tax return. It is not complicated, but again, it can cause some issues.

Documents

Your main document is a W2 form. Based on this document, you can calculate your tax and apply for the money return. W2 covers both State and Federal Tax. This way, the form provides everything you need to claim a refund for your Work and Travel program.

How to claim the tax return

There are two ways of claiming the tax. 

Agency

The easiest way is to use one of the agencies of the market. You don’t have to worry much all that for a small fee. In case of any issues, the agency will follow up with the IRS and take care of the problem. 

By yourself 

You can fill out the paperwork on your own and send it directly to the IRS. Keep in mind that in case of any problems, you will have to deal with them on your own. 

TurboTax

Each year some students fill the tax with TurboTax. Unfortunately, TurboTax serves US citizens only, and Work and Travel participants can’t use this service. Using TurboTax by Work and Travel students is illegal!

Relief checks

The TurboTax case was brought to the broader audience when students started to receive the 1200USD relief checks from the US government. In case you have received a check, please follow the instructions from your sponsor! You will have to return money to the US government.

Usually, you get 100% tax return 🙂

Basic Work and Travel requirements

Requirements for the Work and Travel program candidate

Age

Most of the sponsors will require participants to be between 18 and 30 years old. That is the most common age for the students. Although, the regulations don’t explicitly say anything about setting the upper limit on the age of 30. Some sponsors might allow students older than 30 to participate in the Work and Travel Program. 

Please remember, if you are outside of the limits, you might have to prove in the embassy, that your status is not fake, that you are real student, that for some reason is studying outside of the regular age. 

Student status 

“Post-secondary school students enrolled in and actively pursuing a degree or other full-time course of study at an accredited classroom-based, a post-secondary educational institution outside the United States” – information from the government website.

  • Finish at least one semester 

You have to accomplish at least one semester. That will prove that you are actively attending the school. 

  • Type of schools 

The Work and Travel Program excludes some types of schools and may vary from region to region. Also, vocational schools, e-learning, etc. are excluded from the program. 

In some countries, you can qualify if you are attending post-grad studies. Some details apply to different regions of the world. 

English skills level 

You have to be able to live and work in an English speaking environment for a period of a program. Not only you have to understand English but also have to be able to communicate with others. 

Job offer

The job offer is crucial for the sponsor to issue DS2019 for you. Job Offer is also necessary for you to successfully take part in the Work and Travel Program. 

Clean criminal record

When you fill out the visa application, you have to inform about your criminal record. That means that you might have problems obtaining a visa if your criminal record is not clean. 

Drug tests 

Drugs are bad. Period. Some employers require a drug test. Failing the test means that you can’t be hired. As you can imagine it will harm your Work and Travel experience. Secondly, in the visa application, you also fill out the information about drugs. The best idea is to stay out of this game. 

Pocket money 

Oh, money! Before you get your first paycheck, you have to support yourself! Please don’t be a wise guy and leave without a proper amount of money to the USA, as this might cause unpleasant situations and discomfort! 

You can read more here – https://j1visa.state.gov/programs/summer-work-travel

Work and Travel – Top sending countries.

Work and Travel Program – where do participants come from, and where do they work? Some numbers for you!

Have you ever wondered how many fellow nationals are taking part in the program with you? And where the heck are all of them working? Let’s start from the beginning.

Number of participants in 2019 and 2018

In 2019 the total number of Work and Travel participants landed on 108,303 participants. 

Wow! It’s more than the population of Boulder, CO. Comparing to 2018 it was a growth of 3.63% from 104,512 students. Unfortunately, 2020 will be much lower than both 2018 and 2019. 

Top receiving states 

Top three states hosting students on the Work and Travel program are:

  • New York – 7,004 
  • Massachusets – 6,985
  • Colorado – 6,855
Crucial part of the Work and Travel is to chill in perfect spots.
Work and Travel – chill and enjoy
Top sending countries:

Every year the numbers tend to fluctuate. Some countries strengthen their position while others are decreasing the number of participants. 

Now, do you have a feeling which country sends the most students? Let’s check the top five:

  • Turkey – 7,548
  • Jamaica – 7,349
  • Romania – 6,840
  • The Dominican Republic – 6,817
  • Peru – 6,613 

You can check the full report here.

Last years’ students’ situation if the Work and Travel get canceled

Students that are about to graduate in 2020 are in a very unpleasant situation. If they cancel or the program gets canceled you lose your chance to explore the US during the Work and Travel program. Just at the beginning of your careers, this international experience stands out of your resumes.

Why is it so important?

Work and Travel is not only an adventure. It is a life-changing experience that exposes students to the unknown. We have seen students gain more confidence and becoming an adult after the program. A successful adult!

Next to that, your English is polished as you are thrown into the English-speaking environment, and have to speak the language not only at work but almost 24/7.

What can we do?

We believe there is a solution. Let students, based on the documents for Summer 2020, apply for the program in 2021. If a student is eligible today, let Sponsors and the Embassy use the paperwork and issue the visa for Summer 2021. This way, you don’t lose the chance to participate in the program!

It is also crucial for the Embassies to understand this situation and adjust the visa procedures accordingly. Otherwise, that would not make sense. One time exception for the currently already enrolled students.

Let’s act!

We can’t guarantee success, but sitting on our butts will not bring any positive effects! That is why we will prepare the letter to the Department of State asking to consider this one-time exception for the students. Then, we will have to quantify how many of you would be interested in.

After the letter, we will start counting interested participants to provide the numbers to the Department of State.

Stay tuned!

Work and Travel in Casinos – fine or not?

When browsing through the program offers, you will find very interesting offers of Work and Travel in casinos. Is it possible? Is it legal? What does it look like? 

Let’s jump into this topic.

The Gambling

What is prohibited in the Work and Travel program is working in positions that involve participants in gambling! Period. In other words, you can’t be table games dealer, slot machines attendant or cashier on the casino floor. 

Read more about the prohibited jobs here

Casinos or resorts?

Having in mind that you can’t work in gambling-related positions, remember that casinos have more to offer to their customers. Casino-Resorts that usually hire Work and Travel participants are large enterprises that have hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, conventions, pools, and much more. You can be involved in, for example, concerts that casinos have to attract customers. Despite gambling being a business core for casinos, they have a lot of amenities, events, and attractions to attract customers. And this is where you can work during the program.

Locations on Work and Travel in Casinos

There are a few famous casino locations in the US, with the most famous Las Vegas and Reno in Nevada and Atlantic City in New Jersey. Other locations are usually outside the cities. What is interesting, most casinos are located in Natives Reservations and are called Indian Casinos. Because of that, they are located outside the cities and it might take 1-2 hours to get there from some bigger city. 

Notable locations, next to the mentioned above, are Mississippi, Florida, California, Louisiana, Iowa, and few others. Some of them are Indian, and some are commercial. The full list can be found here.

Positions

Now you know, what positions are prohibited. So what exactly can you do in the casino? Or rather say Casino Resort. You can join such departments as:

  • Food and Beverage Dep 
  • Housekeeping Dep
  • Maintenance Dep
  • Conventions Dep

The list is open but should give you the idea of departments that Casino Resorts have to offer to the Work and Travel participants. Most common positions are:

  • Server
  • Cook
  • Housekeeper
  • Maintenance 
  • Lifeguard/Pool Attendant

Benefits of Work and Travel in Casinos

Casinos are keen to provide you with benefits such as discounted/free meals, discounted tickets for the events, overtime in other departments, and others.

Cons of Work and Travel in Casinos

There are two cons, that are worth mentioning. Firstly, you might be exposed to cigarette or cigar smoke. More and more casinos have smoking-free zones, but you still might get exposed to smoke. 

The second one is the location. Sometimes, it takes up to three hours to get to the city, but there is usually public transportation. So it is a rather small inconvenience.

Work and Travel in Casinos - work in Las Vegas
The fabulous Las Vegas!

We believe that working in the casino has its charm, and you can work there as long as you are not involved directly in gambling. During your work, you can meet celebrities, attend parties, and have fun! Casinos are also a good place to make good money, and we are not talking about gambling 🙂 

We are keen to hear what is your experience of Work and Travel in casinos! Shoot us a message, and we will post it 🙂 

Tipped on non-tipped position – what is better?

That is a good question! As you might be aware, during the program you will face two different types of positions. On will have flat pay, and the other will allow earning tips next to the base salary. 

Usually, tipped positions are linked to direct serving the customers. Restaurants, bars, hotels are the usual places where you can have tipped positions. 

Non-tipped positions are the ones at the back of the house – cooks are a great example. Mostly you will not get tips when working in the stores or equipment rentals, operating rides, or as a lifeguard. 

Sometimes tips are being split to other team members, so even back of the house gang is getting extra money. 

Well done room can earn you tips! But it is not a rule.

An interesting fact is that occasionally, for the outstanding job, housekeepers are also tipped. Remember, it is not a regular extra income 🙂 

Lastly, with tips, you should receive around 10%-20% of the bill. But it is always the gesture of the customer. And your pay should not only rely on tips on the Work and Travel program! There has to be some base salary involved!

It is always up to you, wheater you enjoy conversations and interaction with the customers or rather work alone. There are benefits of tipped positions, but you have to fit in with your personality to use this opportunity.