Are you almost ready to start your U.S. Internship Program? Find more information about the program and important forms below.
Your DS-2019 Form and Applying for Your Visa
If you have been accepted to the Intrax Work Travel Program and you have initiated the application process, then you will receive a DS-2019 form and Intrax ID card. Your local representative will guide you through the Embassy interview process. Visit the download section of this website for more information on preparing for your stay in the U.S.
Preparing for Your Adventure
As an Internship participant you will receive a mandatory pre-departure orientation which will be completed by you online or provided by a representative from the local agency in your home country. During this orientation you will be informed of the rules and regulations and given the opportunity to ask any questions that you may have about the program. The pre-departure orientation is mandatory and you may not travel to the US without completing this orientation. (If you have more questions upon arrival you should call Intrax toll free at 1-888-224-0450 during office hours.) In addition to attending the orientation as a means to prepare for your adventure, you must take responsibility for yourself and make sure that you do research specific to your Internship location before you depart.
One of the best ways to be prepared is research. Research not only helps make you better prepared but it can also save you lots of money and time. The United States is a very big country with a tremendous amount of diversity in its people, climate, geography, etc. It's important that you are prepared for where you are going and what you are going to do.
Modern travelers, like you, have the advantage of the Internet. The Internet provides participants with the opportunity to research everything from airfares to housing to local area information about your U.S. destination. The useful information section provides some helpful websites for general research but it is up to you to search for specific sites relating to your destination.
Another great source of information and good money saving tips are travel guide books. Guide books are often written for specific USA states like California or Florida but they can also be more general. For instance, there are books about all of the National Parks in the USA. If you don't wish to purchase a book, it can be helpful to go to your local library and photocopy chapters that interest you.
Most importantly, you must manage your expectations of the program and remember that you will get out of this experience what you put into it.
Securing Safe, Suitable Housing
Finding an affordable place to live is one of the biggest challenges for all participants on the Internship Program. As a participant of the Internship Program you are required to secure safe and suitable housing BEFORE you depart for the U.S.
The Host Company or Intrax may have some housing options to suggest, otherwise use your resources: using the Internet, asking for suggestions from your Host Company and consulting maps of the area, are all important steps when searching for housing. Once you have found potential housing you must consider the following questions:
- Can I afford it?
- Is there convenient transportation to and from my Host Company?
- Is it a safe environment to live/travel in late at night?
- Will it be convenient to get to work?
Remember, although it is not required that you have housing organized for your entire Internship period before you leave your home country, you are REQUIRED to have at least temporary housing arranged.
Make sure that you pay all required housing deposits and complete all required forms and agreements by the specified deadlines to ensure that your housing is secured for your arrival.
Note: Some Premium Host Companies REQUIRE that you live in the housing provided and that you remain in those accommodations for a pre-arranged time. If this is the case, you and your Host Company must have this arranged (and in writing) before you accept the Internship opportunity. Not upholding your commitment to the accommodations may result in serious consequences such as loss of deposits, loss of the Internship opportunity or dismissal from the Internship Program.
Why is housing that is arranged by my Host Company sometimes more expensive than housing I can find myself?
Housing that is arranged in advance by your Host Company is sometimes more expensive than housing you may find once you arrive in the U.S. for three main reasons. The first reason is because it has been arranged in advance. Much like when you go on holiday and book accommodation in advance it may cost more than if you wait until after you arrive, however if you wait until you arrive you risk the possibility of having nowhere to live. The second reason is because the accommodation is sometimes arranged for a short period of time only. In most locations in order to obtain the least expensive rate for housing you must rent for at least one year. Anything less than one year is likely to be more expensive. For instance staying in a hotel for just one day may cost you $100 but renting a shared room for one month may only cost $400. The third reason is because the housing that is arranged is located in a safe location closer to your Host Company than less expensive housing.
Why, in certain cases, can't I leave the housing arranged by my Host Company?
In order to make sure you have a place to live when you arrive in the U.S. your Host Company has often times already paid out of their pocket a portion or all of your rent in advance. In fact, sometimes your Host Company has paid more for your rent than they ask you to pay because they understand that it is important for you to have safe and suitable accommodations while you are Internship with their company. If you leave your housing before your scheduled date your Host Company may not be able to find another tenant to occupy the apartment and therefore they will have lost all the money that they kindly advanced on your behalf.
Finding temporary housing is a challenge. Housing in the U.S. can be expensive and hard to find. Some useful tips on how to secure housing are provided in your handbook. In addition to these resources it is generally useful to ask for suggestions from your Host Company or future colleagues.
Communicating Your Travel Arrangements
Your tickets are purchased, your housing is secured and you are ready to travel to the United States to begin your adventure. Not so fast! Before you come to the U.S. you MUST make sure that you have informed your local agency and Intrax of your confirmed travel and housing arrangements at least 2 weeks before you arrive. Once your local agency has this information they will send Intrax a copy for our records. Intrax also recommends that you inform your Host Company of your travel arrangement so they know when to expect you.
Intrax will forward your confirmed travel and housing arrangements to your Host Company. If you do not inform your local agency of your travel plans or they do not inform Intrax we will not be able to prepare your Host Company and they may assume you are not coming. For this reason they may fill your internship position with another candidate resulting in the loss of this opportunity. If you lose your Premium opportunity by not submitting your travel arrangements you will be in jeopardy of not being able to participate in the program.
Participants with Intrax-arranged Internships
Intrax keeps the confirmed travel and housing arrangements in your individual participant record and provides the information to independent Host Companies upon request. However, it is your responsibility to keep in direct contact with your Host Company to provide them with this information. If you lose your Independent job opportunity for failure to keep your Host Company informed of your travel plans, you will be in jeopardy of Intrax canceling your visa.
You can arrive 2 weeks prior to the start date on your DS-2019 form but you cannot start your internship until the start date on your DS-2019 form. If you choose to arrive early please make sure that you have secured housing for the early arrival date.
Why do I have to provide my confirmed travel and housing arrangements to my local agency two weeks in advance of travel?
After you provide your confirmed travel and housing arrangements to your local agency they send the information to Intrax. In general, all host companies need this information so that they can confirm and prepare for your arrival.
If you are an Independent Internship Participant you are required to inform both your local agency and your Host Company directly of your confirmed travel and housing arrangements.
Packing Properly and Making Copies of Your Documents
As all experienced travelers can tell you, packing is always one of the biggest challenges, what to bring and what to leave behind. It is also important to decide what you should pack in your checked luggage and what you should carry on the plane. However, before you do anything - before you pack a single pair of jeans or send another email to your friends telling them your new address - you must MAKE COPIES of all your important documents (see chart). Take the originals on the plane, pack one copy in your luggage and leave one with a family member at home.
Why do I need to make copies of my important documents?
Every year thousands of participants come to the USA and every year hundreds of these participants LOSE their documents or some even less fortunate have their documents STOLEN. Those participants who have made copies of their documents and kept those copies in a safe place are able to replace those documents in HALF the time as those who did not. So, if you want to be able to replace your lost or stolen passport in time to take that trip to Mexico or to go home, it is important you MAKE COPIES of all your documents!
As your Internship opportunity involves traveling internationally it is very important that you take some crucial items with you on the plane as you will need to present them to the immigration officer as soon as you disembark. In order to ensure that you bring the proper items on the plane we have compiled the following checklist.
Use the Important Document Checklist to make sure you have made the right copies and packed all your important documents and money. If your passport is less then one year old you must bring another form of identification like a National Identification Card, your original birth certificate or an expired passport.
|What to Bring||Copies||On the Plane|
|Flight tickets and other travel tickets|
|Passport with visa|
|DS-2019 - Certificate of Eligibility|
|Intrax Training Plan|
|Intrax Training Participant Identification Card and Insurance Card|
|Personal valuables - camera, electronics, eyeglasses, prescription medication||Not Needed|
|Home country and international driver's licensce (if you plan to drive at any time)|
|Additional photo identification|
|Finances - $1000 in cash and traveler's checks and credit card including financial arrangements you made with your family and bank for emergency funds|
|Social Security Letter and application or Social Security Card if you are a returning participant|
|Intrax Training Participant Handbook||Not Needed|
|Additional Identification documents (if your passport is less than one year old)|
Bringing Enough Money
There have been many changes in the USA and the J1 Cultural Exchange Programs in the last few years. Some of these changes you may have already heard of from other participants such as delays in getting a Social Security number. Because of these changes it is important that you bring at least $1000 with you. This $1000 should not be used to pay for a bus or plane ticket to your final destination nor should it be used to pay for any housing deposits. This $1000 is to make sure you will be able to pay for your food and rent while you wait for your first paycheck. If you don't bring $1000 you risk running out of money and being forced to return home because you can't pay rent or don't have enough money to independently support yourself on the program.
For safety and security, it is advisable whenever possible to bring at least a portion of your $1000 in traveler's checks as they can be replaced if they are lost or stolen. It is also advisable that you take a credit card with you. This card can be used in emergency situations. If you do not bring a credit card and you end up needing additional funds your family will have to wire money to you which can be expensive and time consuming.
Why do I have to bring so much money if I am going to earn money when I get there?
Due to delays in obtaining Social Security numbers, some participants have waited up to 12 weeks to get paid. This means that some of those participants had to pay rent and food for 3 months before getting their first paycheck. Intrax CANNOT loan money to participants so it is important that you are able to support yourself regardless of what delays might occur.
Preparing an American-Style Resume
American resumes follow a specific format. If your resume does not follow a format that the hiring manager is used to, then he or she may view it as poorly prepared. Even the best resume or CV in your country may not be appropriate for an employer here, just as an American resume may need to be changed for an employer in a different country.
Structure and Content of a Resume
Below are some suggestions for creating an American-style resume:
- Limit the length of your resume to one page, single-sided.
- Create your resume on 8.5 x 11 inch paper with 0.5 - 1 inch margins on all sides. This is the standard size for an American resume. If you are sending your resume via post, print it on quality paper that is the same color as your cover letter.
- Do not include personal information such as age, gender, height, weight, marital status, photos, etc. It is illegal for U.S. employers to make employment decisions based on certain attributes or preferences of applicants. If you share this kind of information in your resume, you may actually discourage an employer from contacting you out of fear of future legal problems.
- The names of post-secondary schools and companies should be written in your native language, while everything else should be written in English.
- Do not use abbreviations.
- Align text with tabs instead of spaces to ensure that all formatting remains consistent.
- Order your education and work experience chronologically with the most recent at the top.
- Educational experience should include the name of all post-secondary institutions attended, the degree or certificate received, the dates of attendance, and any honors or awards that you received. You may also briefly mention specific courses or projects that you completed if they are relevant to the requirements of the position for which you are applying.
- For your work and volunteer experience, list the company or organization name and location on the first line. On the second line, list your title and department (if applicable). On the following lines, use action verbs to briefly describe your duties and accomplishments.
- Include a short section at the end of your resume that includes a description of any special skills you have such as knowledge of computer programs and foreign languages.
- Spell check the resume at least two times, using an English spell check program. Once you have completed your own edits and corrections, have someone else review your resume for mistakes.
- Save your resume as both Microsoft Word and text only formats, as some employers and job sites accept only one of these. If you have the ability to save your resume as a PDF, this can be a better format to use when sending email attachments because compatibility issues can sometimes arise with other file types.
Remember that your resume is a reflection of you. It is a picture of your skills and experience, and can determine whether or not a company will interview you. It is important to have a well formatted document as well as one that is highly informative.
Tailoring Your Resume to the Job
When you are responding to a job announcement, it is a good idea to make your resume specific to the position you are seeking. To do this, present your educational and professional experience in a way that matches the requirements and duties of the position.
For example, if an announcement states that the applicant should be familiar with budgeting principles, then you may want to include descriptions of any projects you completed in school or your job that related to managing expenses, conducting financial analysis, or using accounting software and/or spreadsheets.
If you are applying for multiple positions at the same company, adjust your resume slightly for each position so that the employer can see that you have read the job descriptions closely and that you understand the differences between the positions
Your cover letter is another important place to draw attention to any specific experience or preparation that makes you qualified for the position you want.
Below are links to some sample resumes that are targeted to different industries and follow the recommendations outlined above:
- Sample Resume 1 - Hospitality
- Sample Resume 2 - Advertising
- Sample Resume 3 - International Trade
- Sample Resume 4 - Finance
Cover Letter Tips
Writing an Effective Cover Letter
While a resume gives a clear picture of your education and your past experience, a cover letter should give a more personal and specific view of your background, strengths and goals.
Your cover letter should help explain exactly why you are perfect for the position. It should highlight key points from your resume, but not repeat any part of your resume word for word. And since it is typically the first document read by a prospective hiring manager, it should be interesting enough to make him or her want to read your resume.
Below are some suggestions for writing an effective cover letter:
- Whenever possible, address your letter to an individual and include his or her title and address. If you don't know who the recipient is, address the letter generally to "Hiring Manager," followed by the company name.
- Write your cover letter on 8.5 x 11 inch paper with 1 inch margins on all sides. If you are sending your cover letter via post, it should be printed on quality paper that is the same color as your resume.
- Make sure your English is proper, your sentences are complete and your spelling is accurate.
- Each paragraph should contain an introductory sentence, a closing sentence, and 1 to 3 supporting sentences in between.
- Insert a blank line between each paragraph, but do not indent the first line of the paragraphs.
- Mention your education, any experience you have that is relevant to the position (even if it is not on your resume), personal strengths (i.e. hard worker, organized, cooperative), and skills that specifically relate to the position. You can also include personal goals, goals for the job (what you hope to learn), and long-term career goals.
- Spell check the cover letter at least two times, using an English spell check program. Once you have completed your own edits and corrections, have someone else review your letter for mistakes.
Sample Cover Letters
Below are links to some sample cover letters that are targeted to different industries and follow the recommendations outlined above:
- Sample Cover Letter 1 - Hospitality
- Sample Cover Letter 2 - Finance
- Sample Cover Letter 3 - Advertising
- Sample Cover Letter 4 - International Trade
Entering the U.S.
It took a lot of hard work but you finally made it, and you are about to leave for the U.S. to start your Internship opportunity! There are still some important steps you must take to ensure your successful entry through U.S. Immigration.
Speaking to an Immigration Officer in any country can make anyone a little anxious but the more prepared you are the better off you will be. The Immigration Officer will ask you questions, be sure to answer them accurately and truthfully. You will also need to present the following documents to the U.S. Immigration Officer:
- 1-94 Card (Arrival and Departure Record)
- DS-2019 form
- Passport with valid J-1 visa
What is "U.S. Visit"?
Upon entering the USA foreign visitors have their two index fingers scanned and a digital photo taken to match and authenticate their travel documents at the port of entry. Also, upon exiting from the U.S. visitors must "check out" at one of the U.S. Visit kiosks located in the international terminal.
While on board the airplane to the U.S., you will be given an I-94 Card to complete (a small white card also known as the Arrival and Departure Record).
When you go through U.S. Immigration you will have to provide the following documents to the Immigration Officer:
- I-94 - which will be stamped, ripped, then stapled to your passport
- Passport - which will be stamped
- DS-2019 form - which will be stamped
Make sure that you receive all three documents back before you proceed to U.S. Customs.
Be sure to keep your copy of the I-94 card safe and make copies as soon as possible. You will need this card during your stay when you apply for your Social Security card. You will also need to provide it to the Immigration Officials when you leave the U.S. as proof that you did not overstay. If you lose your I-94 card it is difficult, time consuming and expensive to replace. It is also likely that you will not be able to apply for Social Security or begin working without the I-94 card.
Once you have collected your baggage and passed through U.S. Immigration and Customs you will exit the airport and your adventure as an "Exchange Visitor" on the Internship Program begins.
Checking-in with Intrax
Every participant on a J-1 Exchange/Internship Program is required to report their arrival to their sponsor as soon as they arrive in the USA. This process is one of the most important steps you will take while on the program as this will allow us to validate you in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
To successfully check in you must complete ALL required fields of the online Check-In form within seven (7) days of your arrival in the USA. Failure to complete all the fields will result in an incomplete Check-In and ultimately will result in termination in SEVIS and immediate dismissal from the Intrax Internship Program.
If for any reason you are unable to check in over the web within seven days of arrival you must call Intrax on our toll free number, 1-888-224-0450, Monday through Friday, 8:30AM to 5:00PM Pacific Time to check in.
What if I don't check-in within 7 days of arrival?
If you fail to check in with Intrax you may find yourself on the next plane home! Failure to check in will result in being automatically terminated and marked as "Invalid" or "No Show" in SEVIS. Invalid/No Show status means that you are out of status on the program, you will not have health insurance, you must leave the country immediately and you may face future difficulties whenever you try to obtain another visa to the USA. As stated, once a status is changed to "Invalid" or "No Show" in the SEVIS system, Intrax does NOT have the ability to reverse the status in SEVIS. Checking in and providing accurate contact information (including a physical address) is one of the most important steps. Don't miss it!!
Before arriving in the USA all Internship Program participants must receive an orientation from an Intrax representative or an authorized local representative in your home country. Because the information in our orientations is valuable to the success of your program, attendance is mandatory. Contact your local representative for times and locations of the orientations.
Applying for Your Social Security Card
To apply for a Social Security Card, take the following items and visit your local Social Security office:
- Social Security Application
- DS-2019 form
- Passport with your J1 Visa
- I-94 card
- A copy of your Training Plan
- Additional identification documents if your passport is less than one year old
To find the Social Security office nearest you:
- Look in the telephone book under "Social Security Administration"
- Visit www.ssa.gov
- Call 1-800-772-1213 (Toll free)
If I already have a Social Security number from a previous program can I still use that number?
Yes. If you have participated in an exchange program before, the Social Security number you were issued during that program will remain valid throughout your life. Therefore, you do not have to reapply for a new card.
If the Social Security Administration is NOT able to verify your status, make sure that you request an official certificate/receipt or an official letter from the Social Security Administration confirming your attempt to apply for a Social Security Card. This notice will serve as proof that you attempted to apply for your Social Security card and should be shown to your employer before beginning work.
Once you receive your Social Security number you must report this number to your Host Company immediately. If you fail to report your social security number to your Host Company, you will have difficulty filing your tax return documentation. If you leave your place of employment after receiving a paycheck, but before receiving your Social Security number, you are still required to report your Social Security number to your former Host Company. After showing your Social Security Card to your Host Company you should keep it in a safe place, as it is hard to get a replacement card. You should also be sure to bring your Social Security Card home with you in order to file taxes.
Will my Host Company pay me without a Social Security number?
Whether or not you will be paid prior to receiving your Social Security number depends on the Host Company. Although Host Companies can legally pay you if you can show proof of applying for your Social Security Card, some Host Companies do not feel comfortable doing this or they have computerized payroll systems that do not enable them to pay you without a Social Security number. There are also some Host Companies who won't even allow you to work until you get your Social Security Card. This is why you must be prepared with at least $1000 and/or access to additional funds for up to 12 weeks!
Completing Tax Documentation
When you arrive at your Host Company, you will be asked to complete two important tax documents, the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form and the W-4 Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. Both forms should be completed according to the examples provided here.
- Sample I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form
- Sample W-4 Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate
If you do not complete your W-4 form correctly, you may have to pay more taxes in the future. To ensure that this is not the case, follow the instructions below for completing the W-4 Form and refer your host company to the following IRS employer tax guide: www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p15.pdf:
- Line 3: Check only "Single" marital status (regardless of whether you are married or divorced)
- Line 5: Claim only one (1) withholding
- Line 6: Write "Nonresident Alien" or "NRA" above the dotted line
- Line 7: Do not claim "Exempt" withholding
Be sure to indicate your permanent address in your home country when completing the W-4 form. This will ensure that your Host Company has the correct address to send your W-2 Statement of Earnings at the end of the year. If your Host Company insists that you complete your W-4 using a USA address, be sure to also give them your permanent home address for their records.
Do I have to have additional money taken out of my paycheck?
In general, employers are required to withhold Federal Income Taxes on wages of Nonresident Aliens. An additional amount must be withheld and depends on pay period. For amounts and additional information refer your employer to www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p15.pdf. As with the other tax deductions these withholdings may be returned to you when you file for a tax refund at the end of the tax year. If you don't take this additional amount out of your paycheck you may end up owing the government money when you file your taxes.
Paying your taxes
Like everyone else who works in the USA you too have to pay your taxes BUT you don't have to pay all of them. It is up to you to inform your employer of which taxes you should and should not pay. Check your participant handbook for the list of taxes you should pay.
Filing your taxes
One reason you should file your tax return is because for most participants it means getting some money back from the US government. A second reason for filing your tax return is because it's the LAW. Failure to file your taxes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the federal agency responsible for collecting taxes, could affect your ability to re-enter the USA in the future.
You must file two tax forms:
- State and City forms - The state and city income tax forms are different for each location which is why we recommend obtaining all forms before you depart if you plan on filing out your own.
- Federal Form - The Federal Income tax form is the same for each participant. This form is called the 1040NR-EZ, which is specifically for non-resident aliens earning less than $50,000 a year.
All forms are available from banks and post offices in the USA or on the Internet at www.irs.gov. Although it is recommended that you obtain all necessary tax forms from the responsible agency (Federal Government, State Government or City Authority) or from your employer before leaving the USA, federal tax forms can be obtained at the USA Embassy in your home country. You may wish to consult a tax consulting service such as Tax Back.
Using Your Medical Insurance
During your stay in the U.S., provided you complete the Check-In procedures, you have health insurance. As a participant in good standing with the Internship Program, you have accident and medical insurance as described in the medical coverage insert provided in your Intrax Personalized DS-2019 Packet. Make sure that you review your medical coverage insert for details on coverage and claims procedures. It's important to realize that the insurance provided on this program represents the minimum amount of accident and medical Insurance you are required to have as a participant on the J-1 Exchange program.
Refer to the travel insurance coverage information for exclusions and information on how to process claims.
Medical insurance does not cover most dental claims and will not cover you in a car accident if you are the driver. It is advisable to purchase supplemental insurance prior to your departure from your home country. It is better to be safe than sorry.
If you need to see a doctor but it is not an emergency you should:
- Call your insurance company for a recommendation of a medical facility nearest you
- Receive Treatment
- Pay Medical Bill (In many cases you will have to pay the doctor first)
- SAVE RECEIPTS AND RECORDS
- File a claim with your insurance company
- Wait for the reimbursement decision
If you are going to see a doctor for a non-emergency medical problem, check your health insurance policy to make sure that type of treatment is covered. For example, most international health insurance policies limit coverage for pre-existing medical conditions and do not cover things such as general check up's or sexually transmitted diseases. Check the list of exclusions in your DS-2019 package before arriving in the U.S.
If you need emergency care, go immediately to the nearest emergency room or urgent care center. If you are unable to take yourself to the emergency room or urgent care center, dial 911 immediately for assistance.
Extending your Medical Insurance Coverage
As a participant on the Internship Program it is your responsibility to maintain your health insurance for the duration of your stay. Many participants choose to stay an additional 30 days in the U.S. after they have finished training. For this reason an additional four weeks of medical insurance can be purchased for $75 USD from Intrax. This purchase can be made by calling Intrax during normal office hours and must be done before the program end date listed on your DS-2019 form.
The first thing to do in the event of an emergency is dial 911 from the nearest phone. The people who will answer your phone call are trained professionals in dealing with emergencies. Make sure you answer all their questions clearly and carefully. Speak slowly and make sure you stay on the line until they tell you it is ok to hang up.
1-888-224-0450 - Intrax 24-Hour Toll Free Telephone
In the event of a serious emergency, after calling 911, you should call Intrax Work Travel on the 24-hour toll free line, 1-888-224-0450. If you have an emergency outside of our business hours, which are Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 5 PM, PST, you should call 24-hour toll free telephone number. If you do not have an emergency, you should call us during normal business hours.
To help you determine what is and is not an emergency we have included this helpful list below:
- If you are seriously ill or have been injured
- If you are the victim of a serious or violent crime
- If you have been arrested or detained
Not an Emergency
- Lost or stolen DS-2019, passport or other important documents
- Loss of passport - contact your home country's consulate in the USA for a replacement
- Housing concerns (dissatisfaction with housing, rent/deposit disputes, condition of housing, etc.)
- General information about job or housing
- Basic legal information and advice for procedures and contacts
- Victim of theft or a non-violent crime (lost valuables, luggage, etc.)
- Host Company/Employee concerns (tax questions, final paycheck, scheduling, etc.)
- Social Security and tax problems
- Forwarding your Social Security Card or W-2 form
- Basic travel during your program
- Medical insurance Inquires - contact insurance company directly
- Change of flight - contact the airline company directly
- Delay with Social Security Card - call the toll free number for Social Security
At the end of your Internship you are permitted to remain in the U.S. for 30 days beyond the dates listed on your DS-2019 form. This period is often referred to as the "grace period" and is meant to give you the opportunity to pack up, close your affairs and perhaps travel a bit. During this time you are not allowed to continue working nor are you allowed to travel outside of and reenter the U.S.
If your intention for participating in the program is just to make money then you will be disappointed in the program and your U.S. Internship experience will not be a success. If your intention is to come to the U.S. with an open mind and have an exciting adventure full of challenges and new experiences then your experience will be a success and you will be richer for it.
Throughout your Internship Program you will be required to complete a series of evaluations rating the program, your experience, your Host Company and your overall satisfaction with Intrax. The evaluation process is a mandatory element of the Program according to the rules of the U.S. Department of State regulations governing the program. It is also an essential tool for communication with Intrax as your sponsor. Evaluations will be sent via email 30 days before the end of your program.
Participants on programs longer than 6 months will need to complete an additional evaluation halfway through the program as well. Separate evaluations will also be sent to your Host Company. Completed evaluations should be returned immediately. Failure to do so will result in dismissal from the program. Should you have any questions regarding the evaluation process please contact Intrax at email@example.com.
Understanding U.S. Culture
The American Workplace
Host Companies have certain expectations when they offer you an Internship opportunity. They have a business to run and you are an important part of their operation. When you accept an Intern position, you are making a commitment, and it is important for you to act responsibly. Below are a few things to keep in mind.
Expectations: If you tell an employer you will work until a certain date, keep your commitment.
Attitude: You should always have an open mind and positive attitude about your job and your coworkers.
Hierarchy: Supervisors may share personal information that you would normally share only with close friends, and may allow you to call them by their first name. Socializing on the job is common, and your boss will often join in. Despite any friendliness, you are always expected to do your job and act appropriately.
Time: Being on time is essential, and showing up earlier than expected is even an advantage, as it makes a good impression on your employer.
Dress and Behavior: Many positions require uniforms or have a specific dress code. If you arrive and are still not sure about the appropriate attire for your job, look at how other coworkers dress to see what they are wearing or simply ask your employer.
Rights and Responsibilities at Work: As a temporary employee, you have the same rights as any of your co-workers. You do not have any extra benefits.
Wages: The law states that you must be paid wages to date if you quit work. The law also regulates the minimum amount of money you can be paid and the number of hours you should work.
Your Paycheck and Pay Stub: There is no maximum amount of money you can earn. You will most likely be paid once every two weeks - check with your employer.
Drug Testing: Some employers require that all employees be screened for drug use prior to starting their position.
Customer Service: As most J-1 participants are working with the public it is necessary that you have a pleasant manner and good customer service at all times.
Loss of Trainee Position: You could be laid off (lose your position because business is slow) for any number of reasons, which may not reflect on your own performance as an intern.
You will find many ethnic neighborhoods and concentrations of immigrant groups, all of whom retain their own customs and social traditions. However, almost everyone merges into the American mainstream in some aspect of life, although they may keep many of their own ethnic customs socially and at home.
Pace: When you arrive in the USA, it may at first seem like everyone is in a rush. Although this may appear to you to be rude, do not take it personally.
Openness: America is not a nation of fences, hedges, walls, and gates. Spaces are often open and it often surprises foreigners to find a lack of desire for certain kinds of privacy.
Silence: Many Americans find silence uncomfortable. They like to fill any silence if it extends for more than a moment.
Time: Americans treat time as a commodity, and you will find that they will waste it, budget it, save it, and seek to use it up.
For almost everyone, adjusting to a new society is an exciting, and sometimes challenging process. "Culture shock" can be difficult to deal with at times, but this is a perfectly normal reaction, as you have been taken from your familiar environment and placed in a new setting.
Make an effort to make American and international friends. Be as open and friendly as possible in order to meet new people. If this is not your usual personality, challenge yourself. You are bound to benefit from the effort. Try to actively participate in the conversations, even if you don't feel 100% comfortable with your language skills; practicing with native speakers will help you improve your English and make new friends along the way. Cross-cultural conversations are one of the great benefits of the program - your nationality can be a real advantage.
Living on a Budget: Plan to bring at least enough money to live for one month (approximately $1,000 USD) with you on the airplane.
Banking: Open a bank account as soon as possible.
Currency: The basic unit of USA currency is the USA Dollar ($1.00). Coins are in the value of 1 cent (one cent or a penny), 5 cents (a nickel), 10 cents (a dime), 25 cents (a quarter), and 50 cents (a half dollar).
Credit Cards: Be careful about overspending as you will have to pay your debts. We suggest that you secure an international credit card before you arrive in the USA.
Traveler's Checks: Traveler's checks are perhaps the most convenient and safest way to finance your travel.
Sales Tax: Sales taxes vary from state to state and from region to region, between 3% and 10%.
Tipping: Americans generally tip the server 15% to 20% of the price of the meal. The same practice applies to bartenders, taxi drivers, hair stylists, and other service industry individuals.
Communication - Staying in Touch
Email: There are many Internet cafes or places of employment that have Internet connections. Many public libraries also have Internet access free of charge but they often have a time limit.
Telephones: Pay phones differ across regions of the USA and the dialing procedure depends on the local telephone company.
Phoning Home: Let your family know you are safe, and keep them updated on your activities.
Calling Cards: Pre-paid calling cards are generally the cheapest way of making long-distance calls from a local payphone.
Mail: Mail within the country usually takes between a day and a week to arrive; to northern Europe, and Central and South America, a week to 10 days; to southern Europe, one to two weeks; to Eastern Europe, two to three weeks; to Asia and South East Asia 10 to 14 days, and to Jamaica, approximately two weeks.
Safety and the Law
Avoiding Trouble: Even though you are a visitor, the law still applies to you. You must respect local laws, just as you do at home.
Problems to Avoid: Shoplifting, Underage drinking (the legal drinking age in the USA is 21), Drinking alcohol in public places, Selling alcohol or tobacco to minors (21 is the legal age for buying alcohol; 18 is the legal age for buying tobacco), Drug possession, Disturbing the peace, Disorderly conduct (talking back to the police, etc.), Destruction of property, Bouncing checks (writing checks from your account that are not covered by your funds).
Drugs: Illegal possession of controlled substances (drugs) in the USA is subject to prosecution by law.
Sex: While it is your personal business whether to be sexually active and with whom, please act responsibly, sensibly and, above all, safely should you be sexually active. Sex with an individual under the age of 18 is a crime and punishable by law.
Alcohol: The legal drinking age in the USA is 21 years old.
Smoking: As part of an intense anti-smoking campaign in the United States, tough measures provide a smoke-free environment.
Local Law Enforcement: Unlike most countries, laws in the USA vary from state-to-state and even city-to-city. It is important to become familiar with and obey the local laws in the town or city where you are living to avoid any potential legal difficulties.
Hitchhiking: Hitchhiking is strongly discouraged. It is illegal to hitchhike on any interstate highways and on any other type of heavily trafficked road.
Air: The quickest way to travel in the USA is by air. Check the Internet for the latest and lowest airline fares.
Bus: Bus travel is an inexpensive and popular way to travel around the USA. The major bus companies can help you connect to local bus transportation to reach even remote towns.
Train: Amtrak, the national railroad (railway), offers a rail pass similar to Europe's Inter-rail pass. The USAA Rail Pass is valid for either 15 or 30 days.
Notice Boards (Carpool Notices): Most colleges, universities, and youth hostels have a bulletin board in the student union or common area for notices of rides wanted/rides offered.
Tours: Organized tours can be a great way of traveling if you are on your own or if time is limited.
Car: You must have a valid driver's license from your home country in order to drive in the USA. You will also need an International Driver's License, available in your home country from motoring organizations.
Forms & Download Center
- Participant Handbook
- Exchange Visitor Program Welcome Brochure
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Information
- Insurance Coverage Information - Please log in to the AVI International website using your Intrax Policy Number 940.992
- Social Security Form & Instructions
- Social Security Letter
- Travel Validation Request Form
- Participant DS2019 Replacement Request Form
- Rights, Protections and Resources Pamphlet for nonimmigrant visa holders -Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Act