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If you are a student at a British university and are interested in spending time in America, you may enjoy working in the States over the summer.
As a degree-level student at a British higher education institution, you are permitted to live and work in the USA during your summer vacation in order to experience and to be exposed to American culture. Additionally, the Summer Work Travel Programme will allow you to gain international work experience. According to a survey of 230 employers conducted by the Council for Industry and Higher Education in 2007, 65% of UK employers favoured applicants with overseas work experience.
In order to qualify for the Summer Work Travel Programme, you must
1. Find a J-1 visa Sponsor: If you are travelling to the States for any purpose aside from personal travel, you will need to secure an appropriate visa. If you are travelling to the USA on a Summer Work Travel Programme, you will apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa.
To take part in J-1 Summer Work Travel Programme, you will first need to locate and contact an approved visa sponsor. Only those organisations included on this list are approved by the Department of State to act as a sponsor for this category of J-1 visa. If you secure a summer placement individually, you will still need to contact one of the approved organisations to act as your visa sponsor. Please note that the Fulbright Commission is not a visa sponsor.
For a fee, these designated sponsors sponsor and supervise the programme application process and are your main point of contact throughout the exchange programme. Many provide guidance on securing a placement or have a range of placements to choose from. You will also want to ask about pre-departure preparation, housing and in-country support. Contact the sponsors directly to find out more about their exchange programmes and services they offer.
We encourage students to do a full search of approved sponsors, but to get you started, here are a few examples:
2. Secure a Placement: This will most likely be done with the help of your sponsor. Only those organisations included on the Summer Work Travel Programmes’ designated sponsor list are approved to act as a J-1 sponsor for this category. If you secure a summer placement individually, you will still need to contact one of the approved organisations to act as your visa sponsor. If the organisation that offered you the placement is not on this list but would like to sponsor your visa, they can find out how to apply to become a J-1 sponsor here.
3. Apply for a visa: The process of applying for a J-1 visa is generally straightforward. In fact, the US Department of State issued 715,093 student, exchange and vocational visas in the fiscal year 2010. This translates to a worldwide acceptance rate of over 87%.
We encourage you to read our page with general information on applying for visas to the States to familiarise yourself with the process. If at any point you have enquiries about your visa application, your sponsor should be the first point of contact.
Please note that our staff are not trained to handle specific enquires related to visas in the USA. For such enquiries, you may visit the US Embassy website or call the US Embassy at 020 3608 6998 (Operator Assisted £1.20/minute) between the hours of 7 am - 7 pm Monday - Friday.
4. Prepare to depart for the USA: Make sure you set aside plenty of time to prepare to go to States through the information provided by your visa sponsor and our pre-departure section.