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J-1 Summer Work and Travel 2016

J-1 Summer Work and Travel 2016

The J-1 Summer Work and Travel program provides foreign students with an opportunity to live and work in the United States during their summer vacation from college or university and also to share their culture and ideas with people in the United States through temporary work and travel experiences.

New for 2016

Two independent U.S. program sponsors, Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and Interexchange, have announced a global pre-placement policy for all future J-1 Summer Work and Travel participants, including participants from Visa Waiver Program countries.  Interexchange and CIEE  partner with Irish partner agencies to screen and select prospective Summer Work and Travel participants and issue Certificates of Eligibility (DS-2019) – the basic document that supports an application for a J-1 visa.  Program sponsors are also responsible for monitoring the welfare of participants once they arrive in the United States and ensure that participants’ activities are consistent with the Summer Work and Travel program.

These program sponsors have communicated to us that their goal is to create the most rewarding J-1 experience possible.  Pre-placement requires that all participants receive an offer of qualifying employment prior to the issuance of the DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility and prior to traveling to the United States.  Non-Visa Waiver Program countries successfully implemented pre-placement procedures for J-1 participants several years ago.  These U.S. sponsors know from their extensive experience managing thousands of J-1 Summer Work and Travel participants worldwide, including Ireland, that pre-placement increases the safety and well-being of participants and improves the participants’ overall experience. Most importantly, participants will be able to start work on arrival in the United States in a fully vetted job without wasting time and money searching for employment.

Irish partner agencies are already advising students via their websites on these changes and the path to application, and we encourage students to begin the process early and to be proactive.  For more information on the pre-placement process, including how to arrange your own employment through self-placement, please contact one of the U.S. program sponsors or their Irish partner agencies.  A list of agencies is below.

The State Department, including the U.S. Embassy in Ireland, is fully committed to the success of the J-1 SWT program in Ireland.  We are working with Irish government representatives and U.S. and Irish program implementers to ensure that Irish students continue to have the full opportunity to benefit from the J-1 SWT Program.

Questions about the 2016 J-1 Summer Work and Travel Program can be sent here: 

Click here to download our J-1 visa application step by step guide.



Overview of the J-1 Summer Work and Travel Process


Step 1:  Qualifying for the J-1 Summer Work and Travel Program

In this category, a participant is defined as a bona fide foreign post-secondary student in his or her own country currently enrolled in and actively pursuing a degree or a full-time course of study at an accredited academic institution, or as that status is defined by the alien’s home country educational system.  Final-year students are eligible to take part in this program even though they will have graduated at the time of participation as long as they apply to participate in the program prior to graduation.  For more information about the program, please visit the J-1 Visa Page of the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) website.

Step 2:  Choose a Program Sponsor and Receive a Certificate of Eligibility (Form DS-2019) 

Before you can apply for a J-1 visa, you must first apply for and be accepted into an exchange visitor program through a designated sponsoring organization. Visit the Department of State J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program website for a list of sponsors and contact one of their Irish partner agencies.  Further details of Irish providers are available here. 

Your program sponsor will issue you a DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility.  The DS-2019 documents your acceptance to an exchange program sponsored by a Department of State designated Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor.  Your designated sponsor will enroll you in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and your SEVIS number will be on your DS-2019 form.  You will need your SEVIS number when you complete your visa application.

Step 3:  Read and Understand Your Legal Rights and Protections

You must read the Legal Rights and Protections pamphlet to learn about your rights in the United States and protection available to you.  Review this important pamphlet before applying for your visa.

Step 4:  Complete the DS-160 Online Visa Application

Once you have received your DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility and SEVIS number, you will find the DS-160 online visa application form here.  Please write down in a safe place your DS-160 Confirmation number (begins with AA) and the answer to your security question.  Save your application frequently so that you do not lose any information.

Step 5:  Make an Appointment for Visa Interview and Pay the Visa Application Fee

You or your service provider make an appointment through our online appointment website and pay the visa application fee.  In order to make your appointment you will need the DS-160 Barcode Number (begins with AA). 

Step 6:  Attend Your Visa Interview

  1. Arrive no more than 15 minutes early.
  1. Please bring:
    • Valid passport
    • Form DS-160 – On-line visa application 
    • Form DS-2019 – Certificate of Eligibility (issued to you by your sponsor)
    • SEVIS receipt – Fee payment $35.00
    • 1 photograph measuring 2"x2" taken against a plain white background (click here for more info)
    • Letter from college confirming student status
    • Final year students should be prepared to show evidence that they intend to depart the United States following the end of their program.
  1. Complete information on the Visa Interview Process is available here.
  1. At the conclusion of your interview, the consular officer will tell you that you have been approved or denied, if additional documentation or administrative processing is required and if so, for what reason.

Step 7:  Receive Your Passport, Visa, and DS-2019

Although all applicants are told the outcome of their application on the day of their interview, final visa processing and printing can take an additional 3 to 5 business days before the passport is returned via our contracted courier company.  In certain rare cases, information received after the interview can cause delays to processing and for that reason, applicants should apply at least 3 – 4 weeks ahead of their planned travel to the United States and we recommend against making non-refundable financial commitments such as flights and hotel/hostel reservations until after your passport has been returned.

You will receive an email from our courier notifying you or your designated service provider that your passport is ready for collection from the courier office you selected when you made the appointment.  Due to the volume of visa applications the visa unit does not offer expedited processing for Summer Work and Travel applicants and it is not possible to collect your passport in person from the Embassy and participants should be prepared to be without their passport for 5 to 7 business days.

Step 8:  Arriving in the United States

You may travel to the United States up to 30 days prior to the start of your J-1 program date indicated on your DS-2019, but you cannot begin work until that date.  Once you are in the United States, you will need to check in with your program sponsor.  Your program sponsor is your initial point of contact for any issues, questions, or concerns.

Step 9:  Traveling around the United States

You can work in the United States until the end date on your DS-2019, but have an additional 30 days to complete any travel.  Students returning to college or university will want to factor travel time into their schedule.  Final-year students must depart the United States no later than 30 days following the end of the program date. 

Step 10:  Future Travel to the United States

Did you know there are 14 different categories of J-1 Exchange Visitor visa programs?  Consider looking for an internship or training program for post-graduate experiences.


Frequently Asked Questions:


  1.  Do I need a sponsor?
    • Yes.  The State Department designates U.S. government, academic, and private sector entities to conduct educational and cultural exchange programs.  To participate in the Exchange Visitor Program, foreign nationals must be sponsored by one of the State Department-designated sponsors.  The program sponsors are responsible for screening and selecting eligible foreign nationals for participation in their designated exchange visitor program, as well as supporting and monitoring exchange visitors during their stay in the United States. 
  2. Can I change jobs?
    • Yes.  However, you must first check with your sponsor.  New employment must be vetted and approved by the sponsor in advance.
  3. Can I work more than one job?
    • The Exchange Visitor Program regulations do not prohibit a participant from accepting a second job.  However, you must check with your sponsoring agency before accepting a second job. 
  4. Will I have to pay taxes?
    • Yes, check with your sponsor for detailed information about taxes.
  5. What if I have concerns about my job or the work conditions?
    • If you have questions or are experiencing difficulty in finding employment, or have concerns about the work conditions, you should first contact your sponsor for assistance.  You also may contact the Department of State (
  6. Can I participate in another J-1 program after finishing my current program?
    • Your current J-1 visa is ONLY valid for your current J-1 exchange program (SWT).  Upon completion of your current J-1 program, you are expected to depart the United States.  There are a small number of instances where a SWT participant may extend status on another program.  Please check with your program sponsors if you are planning to participate in a university or college exchange following the SWT program.
  7. What will happen to my J-1 visa status if my program sponsor terminates my program?
    • If your sponsor terminates your participation in their exchange program for just cause, the sponsor will enter this information into SEVIS and you will be expected to depart the United States immediately.  You will not be entitled to the post-completion 30-day period because you did not successfully complete your program.
  8. Who should I contact if I have a concern that is not being addressed by my sponsor?
    • The State Department has activated a helpline to ensure the health and safety of its exchange participants.  Among other prohibitions, no sponsor may threaten program termination, or otherwise retaliate against a participant solely because he or she has instituted a complaint or taken action to gain assistance from an outside entity regarding a complaint. Participants can contact the State Department at any time via the hotline 1-866-283-9090 or at
  9. Who should I contact regarding problems obtaining a Social Security card?
    • You should contact your designated sponsor and the Social Security Administration.
  10. How can I work for an employer other than the program sponsor?
    • A J-1 holder may only perform the activity listed on his/her Form DS-2019, or as provided for in the regulations for the specific category for which entry was obtained and with the approval of the Sponsor’s Responsible or Alternate Responsible Officer.
  11. Under what grounds can I be denied a J-1 visa?
    • Applicants who do not meet the eligibility requirements for a J-1 visa, have previously violated U.S. immigration or criminal laws and incurred an ineligibility, or who fail to demonstrate sufficient intent and ability to comply with the terms of the J-1 SWT program may be denied a visa.  More information on visa denials and ineligibilities can be found here.
  12. What happens if I overstay in the United States on my J-1 visa or if I am arrested in the United States?
    • Overstaying your authorized period of stay in the United States or being arrested in the United States can have serious repercussions for your ability to travel to the United States or be eligible for future visas.  All arrests, even those that do not result in a conviction, must be declared on any future visa application and can cause travel delays or visa ineligibilities.  Further information on ineligibilities and waivers is available here.


If you have any question about the J-1 SWT program not answered here, please send us an email at

Further information on J-1 program sponsors is available here.