The participants of the J-1 Summer Work Travel program must at a minimum:
- Be currently enrolled and pursuing fulltime studies at a post-secondary accredited academic institution outside of the U.S. with at least one semester of completed studies
- Possess, at a minimum, conversational English language skills
- Have a minimum of $1000 USD available upon arrival into the U.S.
- Apply for a Social Security number
- Participate in cultural activities
- Abide by rules and regulations of the program
Current Summer Work Travel participants:
Log into your GEC record at www.gecworkandtravel.com/login to complete your online orientation, validate your program (check-in), update your address, complete your monthly monitoring and to access your Program Materials including:
- Participant Handbook
- Program Terms and Conditions
- Insurance information including policy benefits, how to find a network medical provider, and how to file a claim
- Current State Department brochure and welcome letter
- Social Security Application and Sponsor Letter
Social Security Administration
Questions about Taxes
Tax return assistance
For helpful information such as weather, maps, cultural activities and more information regarding the state where you are living and working please see the links below. Contact GEC if you don’t see the state where you are living and working.
GEC will use the email address you provided when you completed your participant application. It is important that you check your email while in the U.S. for instructions and information from GEC. If at any time your email address should change, you need to notify GEC immediately.
It is your responsibility to find internet service while in the U.S. in order to access your GEC record during the summer. If you have difficulty accessing your GEC record, it is your responsibility to contact GEC immediately for assistance.
Failure to respond to GEC requests will result in program termination.
The program fee that you paid for your program includes your SEVIS payment, your mandatory health insurance, your orientation and program materials, 24 hour emergency support services, initial job placement, your signed work agreement from your employer, courier fee of documents to your home country and the administrative fees to process your DS-2019 form. Your program also includes the monthly check in email from your sponsor verifying that your program is on track and you are receiving a satisfactory experience.
There may be additional fees charged by your Foreign Partner Agent (if applicable) and may include a registration fees, application fee, interview/screening fee, English Eligibility tests, translation of school documents, etc. and other documents as necessary/required.
In addition to the fees for your program sponsorship and the money you bring with you to the U.S., you will be required to pay a fee to the U.S. Embassy prior to scheduling your interview.
You are also responsible for purchasing your round trip airline ticket and for paying any fees charged for changing your flight dates before and after arriving in the U.S.
It can take 4-8 weeks on average to receive your card. Do not apply until you have been in the USA for at least 7 days.
If you lose your Social Security card, contact the Social Security Administration directly at 1-800-772-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov for instructions to apply for a replacement card.
Please contact GEC during regular business hours, and we will give you instructions for obtaining a replacement. Alternatively, you can contact your home country embassy in Washington, D.C. for help (found under Embassy Contact Information in your GEC Participant Handbook.) Your J-1 visa cannot be replaced once you are in the U.S., but it should not be a problem as the main purpose of the visa stamp is for entry into the U.S. The embassy will assist you with obtaining any documents needed to travel home. You should carry your passport photocopies with you along with your new passport. GEC is not responsible for the cost to replace your passport.
The students should contact GEC during regular business hours in order to obtain a new form. Students are responsible for paying the fees to replace the document.
No. You are allowed up to 30 days from the end date on your DS-2019 form for travel purposes only. You are also required to purchase an insurance extension before you begin your travel period. Working during the 30 day travel period is STRICTLY prohibited. You are not allowed to miss the start of your university classes according to your university’s official academic start date which may result in travel days that are less than 30 days. Your university cannot grant you generous leave to avoid this regulation. This is strictly prohibited. Not returning to your home/ school country on time may result in problems obtaining future visas to the U.S.
If you fail to update GEC with your correct/ current address, phone number, and employer information, your program will be terminated. If your program is terminated, you may jeopardize your future chances of being able to re-enter the country. It is a matter of national security for the Department of Homeland Security to know where you are living and working at all times. Not reporting your information is a serious violation.
No. Regulations are very strict. You MUST validate your program in SEVIS within 5 days of your arrival. Failure to do so WILL result in the immediate termination of your program, and you will be required to depart from the U.S. immediately even if you validated your program on the 6th day of your arrival.
Detailed instructions on how to validate your program can be found in your Participant Handbook.
Regulations state that sponsors MUST maintain MONTHLY contact with all sponsored students for the program duration. We will send monthly email reminders to you requesting that you log into your GEC record and confirm your reported SEVIS address, seek input from you regarding your work opportunity, and will ask for feedback in regards to your health and safety. It is your REQUIREMENT to complete these monthly monitoring questionnaires. If no response is received by us, we will attempt to contact you by phone, through your employer, through your Foreign Partner Agent (if applicable), or as a last result, through your Emergency Contact listed on your application. Failure to respond to these monthly monitoring requirements WILL result in the termination of your program. Your health, safety and well being are of our highest concern and that of the U.S. Department of State thus the reason for the implementation of this regulation.
No. GEC cannot extend your program after you have arrived in the U.S. Your visa was approved by the U.S. embassy in your home country based on the official summer vacation dates of your university and your original vetted job offer. Program extensions are not granted even if you have a new job offer that allows you to work longer than what was offered to you in your original work agreement. This means you may have a shorter J-1 Work and Travel program than the 4 months allowed by law.
No. GEC cannot extend your program after you have arrived in the U.S. Your visa was approved by the U.S. embassy in your home country based on the official summer vacation dates of your university and your original vetted job offer. This means you may have a shorter J-1 Work and Travel program than the 4 months allowed by law. Generous leave is not allowed by your university and is strictly prohibited by State Department regulations. Even if you are in your final year of school or are not going to return to your university, you are still bound by the school documents that were submitted at the time of determining your program eligibility. Remember, you were granted your J-1 visa by the U.S. embassy because of your intent to return to your home/ school country at the end of your program. Not doing so is considered visa fraud and has serious consequences.
Typically, after you begin working there is a one to two week waiting period before you will receive your first paycheck. This waiting period will vary by employer, so be sure to ask how long you will have to wait to begin receiving paychecks. Some employers will let you begin working before you receive your Social Security number and some will not. These are questions to ask your employer before you depart for the U.S. It is your responsibility to bring enough personal funds with you to the U.S. in order to pay for your housing deposits, rent, food and other expenses. GEC will not loan money to you or make these payments for you. You are required to bring at least $1000 USD with you. Depending on the cost of your housing deposit, rent, food and the time it will take to receive your first paycheck, you may need more than $1000. We suggest you bring $1500. We recommend you bring an international credit card. Most places in the U.S accept Visa and MasterCard. USD travelers checks are accepted at most businesses as well.
No. The purpose of your program is for cultural exchange. You must participate in cultural activities while in the U.S. Cultural activities can include touring the city where you are living, visiting museums, attending a U.S. sporting event, visiting amusement/ theme parks, attending a concert, and many, many other activities. If you are having difficulty with cultural activity ideas, please contact GEC for assistance.
You did not enter the U.S. on a tourist (B2) visa. The program you entered on is the J-1 Summer Work Travel visa. You are expected to work while you are in the U.S. If you decide you no longer wish to work in the U.S., contact GEC and we will work to resolve the problems you are having with your employer and program. If you decide you still don’t want to work in the U.S., GEC will end your work program in SEVIS. This means that you may begin your travel period up to 30 days in the U.S. before you must return home. You cannot spend more than 30 days travelling in the U.S. (Example, you cannot stop working in June and expect to stay in the U.S. until August for tourist purposes.) It will be your responsibility to pay all costs for changing your flight back to your home/ school country due to an early departure from the U.S.
GEC must maintain accurate work information for you at all times including whether or not you are still working.
GEC MUST VET ALL HOUSING OPTIONS THAT YOU SECURE ON YOUR OWN. As your sponsor, we must know that your health, safety, and welfare are not compromised. We will determine if your housing is suitable based on the distance from your housing to your work site of activity, cost, what is included in your housing, who lives there, how many people live there, how many beds in the home, and other factors. Please understand that pre-arranged housing involved negotiations with the housing coordinator as it related to rent charged, furnishings secured and number of students per room. Not fulfilling the housing agreement creates a hardship for the landlord/ housing coordinator and the students who remain in the housing. GEC strongly encourages you to live in your pre-approved/ pre-arranged housing, if applicable. You may be held responsible for rent payments at prearranged housing even if you choose to move out.
No. It is a violation of your program regulations to not report to the Host Site of Activity as listed on your DS-2019 form. You must report to the Host Site of Activity within 10 days of your arrival, and you must put forth a good faith effort to work at this Host Site of Activity for the duration of your program. Not reporting to or leaving your employer early is considered visa fraud, and it will lead to your immediate program sponsorship termination.
GEC is your J-1 visa sponsor. You must have a sponsor for the entire time you are in the U.S. under the J-1 visa program. If you violate the terms and conditions and the regulations of your program (not validating your program, not reporting to your employer, not updating your address within 10 days of any change, not answering your monthly monitoring questionnaires, working at a second or replacement job without GEC’s written permission, etc.), your program sponsorship will be terminated. Termination means that you no longer have a sponsor in the United States, and you are required to make immediate arrangements to leave the U.S. and return home. Your SEVIS record will be marked accordingly. Program termination has a serious negative impact on your record and may affect future return visits to the U.S. Don’t let this happen to you. Comply with the terms and conditions and regulations of your program.