First job is to check you’re eligible for a student J-1 visa. All good? You’re going places. Next, book online, pay your deposit and wait for us to get in touch with the next steps. Work USA applications close on the 1st April, but we recommend applying as soon as possible for the best chance of securing your preferred job and getting your visa on time.
A pre-arranged job is a condition of your J-1 visa, so the second job is to get one! You’ll find examples of typical summer job vacancies here, but once you’ve paid your deposit, we’ll give you access to our online Job Zone – full of US employers looking to employ international students from our program. Can’t find a match? Our team are on hand to help find you a position.
Once you’ve been hired, the balance of your program cost is due. This is so that we can apply for your visa paperwork and start the sponsorship process with CIEE – our US partners. Once we’ve secured your DS2019 (the official certificate of eligibility that you need to apply for a J-1 visa) we’ll guide you through your J-1 visa application.
All J-1 visa applicants are required to have an in-person appointment at a US embassy. Don’t worry, we’ll provide you with the supporting paperwork and make sure you know what to expect. From securing a summer job to getting your J-1 visa can take around eight weeks (more depending on the availability of embassy appointments). Also be aware that you will be without your passport for around two weeks during this time.
Visa secured? Time to start ticking off your t-do list. US medical insurance is included in our program cost, but you must also make sure that you have adequate travel insurance. We’ve got you covered here. Book your flights and start planning your post-work trip for the 30 days after your contract ends.
Your employer will give you all the details of where to go when you land. You’ll move into your accommodation (if included), start your staff training, and get to work! Don’t forget, our US partners are on hand 24/7 to help and BUNAC are here to answer any questions. Feeling nervous? Check out the pep talk testimonials from our past Work USA travellers.
Work USA FAQs
What is the Work USA program?
Work USA is a summer work and travel program exclusive to university students. It allows you to work for up to four months in a paid seasonal job anywhere in the USA over the summer period (Jun-Sep).
BUNAC support you every step of the way – from visa assistance and job hunting to in-country support when you’re in America.
Do I need to be a student to apply?
Yes, to be eligible for Work USA you must be a full-time degree level student, studying at a UK, Irish, German, Austrian or Swiss university. Your course must be a minimum of two years if you are an undergraduate, or one year if you are a postgraduate. You can either be a current student or a student graduating in the summer of intended departure.
When is the latest I can apply?
Applications for Work USA are accepted each year until 1st April. The entire booking process takes around eight weeks, so unfortunately we cannot accept applications after this date. Please also note that J-1 visas are limited, and you will need to have a job secured before BUNAC can obtain the sponsorship and visa paperwork for your US Embassy appointment, so it’s important to apply as early as possible.
Can I do Work USA more than once?
Yes! You can apply for Work USA for each summer you are a full-time university student. You can participate up to a maximum of three times.
What kind of job can I do?
You can do almost any kind of seasonal job anywhere in the USA. Many of our employers are located in popular vacation spots, such as Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, Long Island, Myrtle Beach and Catalina Island. These employers need large numbers of summer staff each year to help them over their busiest period, in positions such as hospitality, retail, theme park attendants and country club staff. Check out our jobs and approved employers here.
Where can I work
Your J-1 visa allows you to work anywhere in the USA. However, in the past BUNACers have found it expensive to live and hard to find work in the bigger cities such as LA, Boston or New York. We’d recommend applying for jobs in surrounding areas popular with summer tourists, such as Long Island, New York State and New Jersey for NYC; Cape Cod for Boston; and Catalina Island for LA. You can then travel into the city on your days off.
How much will I earn?
Each job that we advertise on our online Job Zone meets state minimum wage requirements. This can vary between USD $7-15 an hour. Depending on the employer and the role, your job may also include tips and an end of summer bonus. Check out our cost and inclusions page for what you can expect to earn over the summer.
Will I be working on my own?
All our employers need multiple international students to cover their busy summer period and actively recruit via our Work USA program, so it’s unlikely that you would be working by yourself. If you want to ensure that you’re working for a business with plenty of like-minded people around you, apply for the larger employers advertising multiple positions on our Job Zone – such as country clubs, hotels and theme parks.
Can I work with a friend?
Each person must interview individually for jobs. We’d recommend mentioning in your application that you’re applying together, but be clear that you are happy to work in different areas of the company. Then apply for the larger employers advertising multiple positions on our Job Zone – such as country clubs, hotels and theme parks.
What happens if I can’t find a job?
Our BUNAC team will talk you through the job application process when you join the program, but make sure you apply for as many jobs as you can, and that you’re as flexible as possible with the kind of job you want to do and where you want to work. If you're struggling to find a job, our BUNAC team can help to find a placement for you.
Can I find my own job?
If you don’t want to use one of the approved employers on our Job Zone, we may still be able to sponsor you through our Work USA program. However, we would need to get your job and employer approved by our US visa sponsor, CIEE. If you’re intending on finding your own job, please speak to the BUNAC team when you pay your deposit.
Is accommodation included?
Most of the employers we work with offer free or subsidised staff accommodation. This is usually shared accommodation that can cost between USD $50-$125 per week, depending on the location. Some of our hospitality employers may also include meals.
If accommodation isn't provided, your employer will usually be able to assist you in finding accommodation nearby before you arrive. BUNAC also has a list of sites where you can find available accommodation, and CIEE (our visa sponsors in America) are also on hand to help with your search.
What is the J-1 visa?
The J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States to visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange.
On the Work USA program, you will be working under a J-1 Summer Work and Travel visa, which allows full-time university students to work in the USA for up to four months and travel for 30 days during their university summer holidays. This visa is designed for a cultural exchange between the USA and participating countries, in order to gain valuable work experience in the USA and learn more about American culture.
How many J-1 visas can I have in my lifetime?
If you’ve had a J-1 visa before, either through BUNAC or another organisation, you can still apply for our Work USA program – providing you still meet the visa eligibility.
How long does the visa process take?
Please allow around eight weeks from when you first secure a job on the Work USA program. However, this can vary depending on how quickly you can submit all your documents to BUNAC, and the availability of appointments at the US Embassy.
Do I need a sponsor to apply for a J-1 visa?
Yes. You cannot apply for a J-1 visa without going through a US approved sponsor organisation. We are partners with the largest non-profit sponsor in America, CIEE. Together, we make sure that you have all the necessary paperwork and sponsorship information to apply for your visa.
Will my visa be issued on the day of my US Embassy interview?
No, the US Embassy will hold onto your passport after your interview and you’ll be able to pick it up from a designated collection office or pay an extra fee to get it directly couriered back to your chosen address. You should assume they will have your passport for at least two weeks.
How long is my J-1 visa valid for?
Your visa is valid for the dates on your DS2019, plus an additional 30 days to travel. It’s not possible to extend your J-1 visa.
What is the DS2019?
The DS2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status) is the official certificate of eligibility that you need to apply for a J-1 visa. Our US sponsors provide this form for you with support on filling it out. Once your J-1 visa is granted, your visa will be stamped inside your passport. However, you must keep your DS2019 with your passport at all times. One is not valid without the other.