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Work America FAQs
What is Work America?
Work America is a Summer Work and Travel program exclusive to university students. It allows you to work for up to 4 months in a seasonal job anywhere in the USA over the summer period.
BUNAC will support you every step of the way: from job hunting and your visa process, to in-country support when you are in the USA.
When should I apply?
Now! You will need to have a job secured before BUNAC can obtain visa paperwork for your visa appointment so an early application is essential! Please note that visas are limited so it is extremely important you book onto the program as soon as possible to reserve your space. You can book online or by giving us a call!
When is the latest I can apply?
Applications for Work America 2022 will be accepted until 1st April 2022. The entire booking process takes around 8 weeks, so we cannot accept applications after this date. Apply as early as possible to allow enough time for your job hunt, payments and visa application.
Are flights included in the cost?
Flight are not included in the programme fee. You have the freedom to fly to and from whichever destination you choose in America. You must book a return flight to the US as a requirement of your visa. We strongly advise you not to book any non-transferable flight until your J-1 visa has been issued and your passport returned by the US Embassy.
Do I need to be a student to apply?
Yes. To be eligibile for Work America you must be studying full time at a UK, Irish, German, Austrian or Swiss university. Please note that your course must be a minimum of 2 years long if you are an undergraduate student or 1 year if you are a postgraduate student.
Can I apply for Work America more than once?
Yes! You can apply for Work America for each summer you are a full time university student. You can participate up to a maximum of 3 times.
What kind of jobs can I do?
You can do almost any kind of seasonal job anywhere in the States! Popular jobs past BUNACers have worked in US vacation spots, such as Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, Long Island and Ocean City. These employers need large numbers of summer staff in positions such as: hospitality, retail, theme park attendants and country club staff. Check out our jobs here.
Where can I work?
Your visa allows you to work anywhere in the States.
Please note that large cities such as New York and Los Angeles are very expensive and past BUNACers have found it very difficult to find work there. Why not head to the surrounding areas and travel to New York on your days off? You also have 30 days to travel after your working time to visit these popular travel destinations. Long Island, New York State, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland are popular options for New York fans.
How much will I be paid?
Each job meets state minimum wage requirements. This means you will be paid around $7-$10 an hour, depending on the state you are working in. Your job may have tips on top of that as well, please check the job description.
Will I be working on my own?
All the employers we work with have a need for many international students to cover busy periods, so it is highly unlikely you would be working by yourself.
Can I work with my friend?
Possibly. It depends on the needs of the employer. Definitely mention in your application that you are applying together, but be clear that you are happy to work in different areas of the company. Apply to employers who are looking to hire large numbers of staff to give yourself the best chance.
What happens if I can’t find a job?
Be sure to apply for as many jobs as you can, and that you are as flexible as possible with regards to what kind of job you want to do and where in the States you want to work. Please contact our BUNAC team if you are struggling to find work.
Is accommodation included?
Most of the employers that we work with offer subsidised staff accommodation. If accommodation isn't provided by the employer they are usually able to assist you in finding accommodation before you arrive.
How do I find accommodation?
Many employers offer accommodation with the job and CIEE (your visa sponsor) is also on-hand to help you with your accommodation search. Alternatively, you can try:
- Local newspapers (many are available online)
- University accommodation
- Ask your employer for advice
Check out these useful websites for finding a place to live:
If you do not pre-arrange accommodation we'd suggest booking into a hostel or motel for the first few nights when you arrive.
How much will my accommodation cost?
It varies. Participants renting accommodation from an employer can expect to pay somewhere between $50 - $100 per week, whilst those renting their own apartment can expect to pay more.
J1 Visa FAQs
What is a J-1 Visa?
A J-1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States to visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange.
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 4 months, during their summer holidays. This visa is designed for a cultural exchange between the USA and the participating countries, so that you can gain valuable work experience in the USA and learn more about the local 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 Work America providing you’re still eligible.
Can I bring my partner?
Only if you partner is also eligible to apply for the J-1 Visa and he or she applies in a separate application.
Can I bring my children?
How long does the whole visa process take?
Please allow around 8 weeks from when you first secure a job on the Work America program to having the visa in your hand. This can vary, depending on how quickly you can submit all your documents to BUNAC, and the availability of the US Embassy.
Will my visa be issued on the day of my interview?
No. The US Embassy will hold onto your passport and you will be able to pick this 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 2 weeks.
How long is my visa valid for?
Your visa is valid for the dates on your DS-2019, plus an additional 30 days to travel. It is not possible to extend this visa.
This is your official certificate of eligibility to apply for a J-1 visa. You need a DS-2019 to apply for a J-1 visa. Once your J-1 visa is granted, this will be stamped inside your passport but you must keep your DS-2019 with your passport at all times. One is not valid without the other.
SEVIS is a state department system which tracks holders of J-1 visas while they are in America. You MUST validate your record upon arrival in America and keep it updated if you change jobs or move in to new accommodation. This can be done easily by calling CIEE upon arrival into America. Full details on validating your SEVIS record will be given once you are registered on Work America.
What if I want to come home early?
You should call your visa sponsor CIEE to chat through your options. You can reach them on +1 888 268 6245 - this is a toll free number when called within the US.
You must also notify CIEE if you wish to leave your job and/or leave the USA early. As your visa sponsor, they must keep your records with US Department of State fully up-to-date. Failure to notify CIEE in this situation may result in CIEE terminating your visa, and you will have to go home early.
For how long can I travel after I finish work?
During the validity period of your visa, you can work and travel as much as you wish. From the date of the last day of your job contract, you have an additional 30 days 'grace period' during which you may travel but not work.
Does the medical insurance cover pre-existing medical conditions?
Unfortunately the medical insurance provided on the program does not include any pre-existing conditions. If you do have a pre-existing medical condition you would be required to find your own travel insurance at an additional cost.