Work and Travel USA
Click on a question below to be taken to the corresponding answer further down the page.
- What type of visa do I receive?
- Can I travel around the US after my working authorisation has expired?
- Can I leave the US and re-enter on my J-1 visa?
- What if I lose the copy of the DS-2019 Form?
- When can I go?
- Do I need to find a job before I leave?
- Can I work in any industry?
- Can I work for more than one employer?
- Do I have to work full time?
- What if I don’t find a job in the first 10 days after my arrival?
- When do I need to apply?
- How do I apply for the program?
- Do I need travel and medical insurance?
- Why do I have to pay to go on this program?
- Can I repeat the program?
- Is there an age limit?
- Am I permitted to study whilst in the US?
- Can students who study online or through distance learning be eligible for this program? Can the study be conducted part time?
- What is "post-secondary education" for the purposes of this program?
- Are students attending vocational schools eligible for participation in this program?
You are a participant in an educational exchange program approved by the US Department of State and will receive a J-1 visa. Under the terms of the J-1 visa, you are allowed to work for up to 12 months at sites approved by the sponsor. The visa does not allow you to work as a domestic, au pair, camp counsellor, or in the medical field. In Nov. 1986, the US Congress passed a new Immigration Law requiring employers to verify that all employees - both US citizens and non-resident aliens - are eligible to work. The company supervisor will ask to see your passport and a copy of the Exchange Visitor Visa Form called DS-2019. This was the form that served to obtain the visa. The Immigration officer will stamp it and leave it in your passport. It should remain there at all times. We encourage you to make photocopies of your passport and the DS-2019 and keep them in a safe place. These are the documents that prove your work eligibility and identity. You will also be asked to sign a form (I-9) that the host company keeps in its files. The form proves that the company has verified work eligibility.
Once your DS-2019 has expired you have 30 days from the expiration date to travel within the US.
Yes, if you plan on travelling outside of the US during your program, you must first notify CIEE and request permission to travel. This involves CIEE signing your DS-2019 form, and issuing you a letter of "Good Standing" that indicates that you are still a current participant and that you will be returning to the US to continue on with your program.
Please follow these steps for successfully travelling in and out of the country.
- Make sure you are travelling WITHIN the dates on your DS-2019 form. Travel outside of these dates is prohibited, and will prevent you from re-entering the US!
- Send your DS-2019 form to CIEE at least two weeks prior to your trip using mail that can be tracked (i.e. - Fed Ex). Include a note stating your travel plans, US address, and phone number.
- INCLUDE a self addressed, PREPAID, TRACKABLE envelope (i.e. Fed Ex). CIEE will use this to send your signed DS form and a letter of "Good Standing."
If you want to visit the CIEE office in order to get the DS-2019 signed in person, please call the CIEE Customer Service Center beforehand to let them know when to expect you.
Please also note that your DS-2019, J-1 visa, and passport must be valid in order to re-enter the U.S. Lastly, make sure it states "M" under "Entries" on your J-1 visa. If it states "S" or "1," you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. to finish the Work & Travel USA Program .
You must have the copy of the DS-2019 form for the visa to be valid. If this is lost, CIEE will replace the form. A good safeguard is to always keep the copy of the DS-2019 form in the passport and have copies put elsewhere in a safe place. If you lose your passport, please contact your nearest Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible so that they can assist you in obtaining new documentation.
You can go on the Work & Travel USA - 12 month program at any time of the year.
Summer Work & Travel students can work in the USA between November 15th - February 28th. Your work dates will be based on the length of your vacation break from uni or TAFE/Polytechnic.
No. You can secure your job after your arrival in the US. You can work in any position which is not restricted.
According to the regulations of the J-1 Work & Travel USA program, employment cannot be approved if there are questions about the safety and well-being of the participant, or if the nature of the employment prevents the participant from having a meaningful cultural exchange experience in the United States.
As a Work & Travel Explore USA participant, you can work at hotels, restaurants, amusement and theme parks, ski resorts, national parks, retail stores, and so much more. Here are just a few of the many jobs you can do:
- Parking host
- Ride operator
- Games operator
- Guest services
- Grocery clerk
- Product stocker
- Ice cream shop worker
- Convenience store clerk
- Bicycle rental technician
- Prep cook
- Line cook
- Front desk clerk
- Guest services
- Gift shop clerk
- Hospitality crew
- Server assistant
- Guest services
- Resort worker
- Guest room attendant
- Snack bar attendant
- Ski/snowboard instructor
- Rental shop attendant
- Lift operator
- Ticket sales
- Snow removal
The following jobs are currently prohibited:
- Jobs that are filled by a different type of J-1 visa (such as internships or camp counselors)
- Jobs obtained through staffing or employment agencies
- Jobs designated by the U.S. Department of Labor as “hazardous to youth”
- Jobs where students are hired independent contractors (using 1099 forms)
- Jobs where students work the majority of their hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
- Sales jobs that require students to invest their own money to pre-purchase inventory
- Jobs that are mostly commission-based and thus do not guarantee minimum wage
- Jobs with exposure to dangerous chemicals (such as pesticides)
- Jobs that require a professional license
- Jobs that displace U.S. workers
- Jobs with employers who have experienced layoffs within the last 120 days
- Jobs with employers who have workers on strike or lockout
- Domestic help positions in private U.S. households (such as an au pair)
- Modeling or jobs in the adult entertainment industry
- Jobs on casino gaming floors
- Jobs in warehouses, factories, moving companies, or distribution centers
- Jobs in the fisheries industry
- Jobs at mall kiosks or carts
- Jobs as operators or drivers of vehicles or vessels for which a driver’s licenses is required
- Operators of pedicabs, rolling chairs, or other passenger-carrying vehicles for hire
- Farm or ranch jobs
- Jobs with traveling carnivals/concessions
- Jobs providing clinical care or medical services, or veterinary work involving hands-on care
- Jobs as ship or aircraft crew members or as pilots, except as crew members on ships that travel only within domestic U.S. waters
- Jobs as teachers, teaching assistants, or coaches
- Jobs entailing sustained physical contact with customers, such as body piercing, tattoo parlor work, or massage
- Jobs with domestic cleaning companies
Any job, whether or not it is included in the list above, must be generally compatible with the rules, regulations, and intent of the program. Participants must be able to balance their work responsibilities with time spent exploring their local community, learning about the U.S. and getting to know Americans. In addition to the above, any job that could bring notoriety or disrepute to the Exchange Visitor Program is expressly prohibited by the program regulations.
Participants are required to contact CIEE and report their current address and employment status within 10 days of their arrival. If you have not secured a position you are required to keep CIEE informed about your location and job search process.
Your full application must be submitted to us a minimum of 8 weeks before your departure date.
You can download an application form from our website, e-mail us, or give us a call on 1300 135 331 in Australia or 0800-440079 in New Zealand and we will send you one. Please see How to Apply section.
Your program fee includes travel and medical insurance. Under US Government program regulations, you must have an approved level of insurance coverage. Our custom insurance plans meet this requirement. Our insurance covers you for emergency and accidents including hospital cover - but only while you are on the program. There is only limited baggage coverage and it does not cover loss of personal effects. If you are intending on taking expensive items we recommend you take out additional coverage.
Your program fee covers our services to you in Australia and New Zealand and CIEE’s services and support whilst in the US including sponsorship of your visa. The fee also covers your insurance. For a full list of what’s included in the program fee please click here.
Work & Travel 12 months - No, applicants are only permitted to receive the visa once.
Summer Work & Travel - Yes, applicants are permitted to repeat the program.
Work & Travel 12 months - No, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria and are more than 18 years old.
Summer Work & Travel - Yes, 18 - 30 years.
Yes, you may take a course, but the study should be incidental to the work/travel program (i.e. a night class) and not a course which issues credits, leads to a degree or otherwise would require a F1 student visa.
As your US authorised sponsor for this program, CIEE is responsible for ensuring that you arrive in the US with sufficient funds to support yourself before you start earning your own money. You will need to declare that you have access to a minimum of US $975. You may also be asked by Immigration for evidence of these funds when entering the US and when applying for your visa at the US Consulate serving your state.
For Work & Travel USA 12 months there are no specific documents that you are required to take with you.
Can students who study online or through distance learning be eligible for this program? Can the study be conducted part time?
No. In order to qualify for the 12 month program, the study must be completed on a full time basis in a classroom.
To be considered a bona fide post-secondary student, the potential participant must have completed his/her freshman (first) year of a post-high school program such as a Bachelor's degree program or other course which will lead to the issuance of a degree.
The requirements are that an Australian or New Zealand citizen wishing to travel to the United States must qualify as a student; that is, someone who is currently enrolled in a bona fide post-secondary course of study or who has completed/graduated from a bona fide post-secondary course of study within the last 12 months. Evidence to this effect must be provided.
Students attending a vocational school are not eligible to participate in the Student Work and Travel Program unless they can demonstrate that their study will ultimately lead to a degree from an accredited post-secondary institution. For further guidance, please refer to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Website.