“The J-1 Visa offers cultural and educational exchange opportunities in the United States through a variety of programs overseen by the U.S. State Department. Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Exchange visitor (J-1) visas are nonimmigrant visas for individuals approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States.”

– United States Department of State

 

Resources

picture by Moyan Brenn

Picture by Moyan Brenn

Culture shock is the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country, a move between social environments, or simply travel to another type of life. Learn more here:
http://moving.about.com/od/internationalmoves/a/culture_shock.htm
http://www.internations.org/magazine/what-is-culture-shock-15332
http://www.worldwide.edu/travel_planner/culture_shock.html
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/culture%20shock
Applying for a social security number
You must check-in with your sponsor before applying for a Social Security Card. You must obtain a Social Security Card (SS card) upon arrival in the USA.
You can download the application form from www.ssa.gov
You must also provide your I-94 record which is available at www.cbp.gov/I94 

The number on the card serves as the taxpayer identification number and will be used for the host company’s
payroll. This number is also needed to open a bank account or obtain a state driver’s license. It is your responsibility to obtain this card.

Consider your first week or training as an introduction to your host company and take time time to meet everyone on your team including your supervisor with whom you should discuss your year of training ahead.
Although wage levels across the U.S. are similar, the cost of living varies. Housing costs will take much of your paycheck. Remember to aim for paying no more than 30% – 50% of your monthly net income for rent.
Plan to bring at least enough money to live for one month (approximately $1,000 USD) with you to the U.S. Be prepared to pay for your living expenses, especially if you accept an unpaid internship experience. Plan ahead, to ensure that you always have money set aside to pay for housing, meals, and any other expenses. As much as possible, do research online to find out what the normal cost of living is where you will be living. If you want to save money for traveling or to take home with you, be prepared to change your lifestyle.
Rent.com
airbnb.com
ForRent.com
ApartmentGuide.com
Apartments.com
ApartmentShowcase.com
ApartmentHomeLiving.com
Move.com
MyNewPlace.com
MyNewPlace.com
Your insurance is an emergency insurance and not a health insurance. The Department of State requires all J-1 interns and trainees to have a certain coverage at a very minimum. Global Monday has ensured that you are covered with much more than the minimum required. Please refer to your specific policy for details.
Traveling within the United States during your J-1 Program
Participants are allowed to travel freely within the U.S. Just make sure you let your supervisor know of your travel plans ahead of time so it can be authorized s time off.

International travel during Your J-1 Program
Participants are allowed to travel outside of the U.S. during their internship/trainee programs. In order to ensure that you are able to reenter the U.S. under valid J-1 visa status you should do the following prior to your trip:
If your DS-2019 has not been signed for travel within the past year you will need to fill out the “Travel Validation Form” from your sponsor. You will need to mail the completed request form along with your original DS-2019 to sponsor’s headquarters at least two weeks prior to your intended travel date. A sponsor representative will sign the DS form and return it to you prior to your trip. Once provided, the travel validation signature is good for a period of 1 year.

Open a bank account as soon as possible. This will allow you to cash or deposit your paychecks and receive money from overseas. Banks in the U.S. are regional, so your options will most likely differ depending on the state that you are going to. Almost all banks offer “free checking” if you meet certain requirements such as holding a certain amount of money with them, making a certain amount of purchases a month or opening a savings account. Services and fees vary quite a lot from bank to bank, so it is important to check with several different banks to find the one that meets your needs.
In order to open a bank account, all banks are required to verify your identification. Bring various forms of identification, including your passport and your Social Security number if you have it and proof of where you are living such as a lease or utility bill. Some banks require that you have a Social Security number to open an account while others do not. Often if you don’t have your Social Security number yet it can be helpful to speak to the bank manager if you are told that you cannot open an account.
Renting or Buying a Car – Cars and insurance
If you are interested in buying a car please find several helpful links below:
http://www.kbb.com/ – Kelly Blue Book provides impartial estimates on cars’ values. Make sure that you look at the private party price if you are not buying from a dealership.
http://www.edmunds.com/ – Ratings and information on a variety of car models and years. Also has tip sheets on buying used cars and looking for insurance.
http://Craigslist.org – Online classified ads to find used cars.
http://aaa.com – See tips on “buying a car.” AAA is also a member service that provides roadside assistance and towing in the event of problems. If you will be driving a lot during your time here or are thinking of taking a long road trip you might consider buying coverage.
Unlike insurance, coverage works for the individual, not the car, and is valid for any vehicle you are in.

Renting
While most companies will accept a foreign driver’s license to rent a car, most car rental companies will not rent cars to drivers under the age of 25. Cheap rental deals can be found below:
Hertz, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Avis, Budget, Thrifty.

One of the main goals of the J-1 exchange program is for exchange
visitors to learn more about American culture and participate in
activities that are part of everyday life in the U.S. During your stay,
you may be given opportunities or receive suggestions through your
Host Company on how to participate in cultural activities. In addition,
here is a list of ways that you can have fun and learn more about
American culture:

All interns pay State, Federal and Local taxes. However, you have the chance to complete documentation obtained from the Internal Revenue Service at the end of the stay so that you can get most of the taxes reimbursed.
All individuals who earn income in the USA are required to file a tax return after the end of the calendar year. Your tax return will reflect your actual earnings for the previous year, the amount of taxes you paid and the total amount of taxes owed or refunded. To file your taxes you will need your W-2 form and Form
1040NR-EZ. You can claim some of your taxes back by visiting: www.taxback.com

Picture by Pank Seelen

U.S. Federal & National Holidays

We encourage our interns to research cultural activities in their city and participate in U.S. holidays.

http://www.redcort.com/us-federal-bank-holidays