J-1 Frequently Asked Questions

What are the eligibility requirements?

Participants must be 

  • An Australian or New Zealand citizen;
  • Aged 18 years or older;
  • A full time, class room based undergraduate student enrolled at an Australian university or TAFE college (minimum Diploma level course of 2 years duration) and have successfully completed the first year of study; or continuing postgraduate student completing higher studies immediately following undergraduate study; or  
  • Have graduated from a course specified above within the past 12 months
  • Not be accompanied by any dependents (for example, partner or children)
  • Purchased approved Health Insurance for 12 months
  • Demonstrated sufficient financial resources to support yourself (Minimum US $1,500).
What is the difference between the J-1 Student Work Travel and Summer Work Travel programs?

Student Work Travel

Summer Work Travel

-Open to Australian and New Zealand citizen students only

-Open to all student nationalities

-Work / travel for up to 12 months

-Work / travel for up to 3 months

-Work / travel at any time

Work / travel during official summer holidays

What is the first step in the application process?

As with all exchange visitor visas, you must obtain sponsorship from an exchange visitor program sponsor approved by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 

The US Department of State authorized the American Australian Association as an Exchange Visitor Program sponsor in October of 2002. This permits our organization to issue a “Certificate of Eligibility” (Form DS-2019) to eligible applicants, allowing them to work in the United States under a J-1 Visa.

Why do I need a sponsor?

Sponsorship is a standard US visa requirement for exchange visitor applications. Participants must secure sponsorship from an approved exchange organization.

Organizations that are eligible to sponsor foreign nationals for a J-1 Visa can set up “Exchange Visitor Programs.” These organizations are designated and overseen by the U.S. Department of State.  Each organization is bound by federal regulations, which govern the J-1 Visa, and the terms of the specific designation given to them by the US State Department.

The American Australian Association is an approved sponsor for Student Work and Travel.

How do I apply?
  1. Complete the American Australian Association Participant Application Form
  2. Review & sign the Employment Conditions Acknowledgement Form
  3. Submit the US $950 application (SWT) and membership fee
  4. Attach the requisite supporting documents (detailed below) 
  5. Email preliminary copy of application & supporting documents for review to J1visa@aaanyc.org
  6. If accepted for sponsorship, mail the completed and signed application form with payment and supporting documents to:
    J-1 Exchange Program
    American Australian Association
    50 Broadway, Suite 2003
    New York NY 10004
What supporting documents do I need?

  Two character reference letters

Certified copies of each of the following


·         Australian or New Zealand passport – biographic page and all stamped passport pages;

·         Proof of tertiary enrollment, including completion of first year and ongoing study or graduation certificate

·         Proof of medical insurance * coverage and purchase receipt (see minimum requirements listed below)

·         Evidence of sufficient financial funds (at least US $1,500) to cover start up costs

What type of visa will I receive?
 J-1 visa

What is the J1 visa?

The J-1 Visa allows foreign nationals to visit the United States temporarily to work as an Exchange Visitor.  It was developed to expose individuals in a variety of fields from around the world to the culture and institutions of the US and to foster better understanding of the US perspective on a variety of issues.

When can I go?

You can leave at any time of the year.  If you are a recent graduate, you must enter the U.S. within the 12 month post graduation eligibility period.


The Association charges an $800 administration and $150 membership fee. 

In addition to this, participants should note the US Government charges three separate fees pertaining to the J-1 visa. These fees are listed in US dollar amounts and will be charged at the applicable exchange rate:  $131 visa application fee, $105 visa issuance (reciprocity fee) and $35 SEVIS fee. It is mandatory that you obtain an adequate level of medical coverage for the duration of their visit.

How do I pay?

Payment is by international money order, wire transfer, US drawn cheque or by major credit card (Visa, Mastercard, AMEX).

  1. US drawn check made payable to the 'American Australian Association'
  2. Major credit card (Visa, Mastercard, AMEX)- Payment form
Wire transfer - ** If using this method, please be sure to include all international bank transfer fees into the wired amount. The full payment must be received.

American Australian Association bank account details:
           Name: Chase Bank N.A.
          Address: 42 Broadway, New York, NY, 10004
          ABN: 021000021
          Account: 530 978 720
          Swift Code: CHASUS33

What is the minimum level of medical coverage needed?
Medical insurance coverage must include, at a minimum:

·         medical benefits of at least US $100,000 per accident or illness;

·         repatriation of remains amount of US $25,000;

·         expenses associated with medical evacuation from the US in the amount of US $50,000; and

·         a deductible not to exceed US $500 per accident or illness.
Medical insurance policies meeting the benefit requirements must be underwritten by an insurance corporation which has the following features:
·         A.M. best rating of "A-" or above;
·         Insurance Solvency International Ltd. (ISI) rating of "A-1" or above;
·         Standard and Poor's Claims Paying Ability rating of "A-" or above;

·         Weiss Research Inc. rating of "B+" or above.

Do I need to find a job before I leave?

No. You have 10 days from the date of your arrival in the US to secure a job. You can work in any position which is not restricted*. *See employment restrictions below.


What are the Student Work Travel work restrictions?

All prospective work positions must be vetted and approved by the American Australian Association by submitting a completed Employee Job Offer Form.  All employment, including internships must be paid at the minimum award wage or higher. Typically most participants work in non-skilled service positions at resorts, hotels, restaurants and bars. Participants may accept professional level positions, however may not accept work in any of the following areas:

Participants MAY NOT work as follows
  1. In positions that could bring notoriety or disrepute to the Exchange Visitor Program;
  2. In sales positions that require participants to purchase inventory that they must sell in order to support themselves;
  3. In domestic help positions in private homes (e.g., child care, elder care, gardener, chauffeur);
  4. As pedicab or rolling chair drivers or operators;
  5. As operators or drivers of vehicles or vessels for which drivers' licenses are required regardless of whether they carry passengers or not;
  6. In positions related to clinical care that involves patient contact;
  7. In any position in the adult entertainment industry (including, but not limited to jobs with escort services, adult book/video stores, and strip clubs);
  8. In positions requiring work hours that fall predominantly between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.;
  9. In positions declared hazardous to youth by the Secretary of Labor at Subpart E of 29 CFR part 570;
  10. In positions that require sustained physical contact with other people and/or adherence to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Universal Blood and Body Fluid Precautions guidelines (e.g., body piercing, tattooing, massage, manicure);
  11. In positions that are substantially commission-based and thus do not guarantee that participants will be paid minimum wage in accordance with federal and state standards;
  12. In positions involved in gaming and gambling, that includes direct participation in wagering and/or betting;
  13. In positions in chemical pest control, warehousing, catalogue/online order distribution centers;
  14. In positions with travelling fairs or itinerant concessionaires;
  15. In positions for which there is another specific J category (e.g., camp counselor, intern, trainee); or
  16. After November 1, 2012, in positions in the North American Industry Classification System's (NAICS) Goods-Producing Industries occupational categories industry sectors 11, 21, 23, 31-33 numbers (set forth at http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag_index_naics.htm).
What if I don’t find a job in the first 10 days after my arrival?


Participants are required to contact the AAA and report their current address and employment status within 10 days of their arrival. If you have not secured a position, the AAA must be informed.


Can I work for more than one employer?

Yes, however ALL job offers must be vetted and approved by the Association.  Please complete and return the attached Employee Job Offer Form.

Do I have to work full time?


Can I study while in the US?


Can I travel around the US after my working authorization has expired?

After your DS-2019 form has expired, you have 30-days following the expiration date to travel within the US. You may not work during this 30-day grace period.

Can I leave the US and re-enter on a J-1 visa?

It is expected that you remain in the US for the full duration of your 12 month program to maximize your exchange experience. Participants are advised to contact the Program’s Responsible Officer in the event of an emergency.

What if I lose my DS-2019 form?

You must have a DS-2019 form for your visa to be valid. If you lose your DS-2019 form, you must notify the AAA in writing immediately. We will re-issue a new DS-2019 form for a fee of US $50.

Can I repeat the program?

No, applicants are only permitted to participate in the Student Work Travel visa once.

Do I need a US social security number?

Yes. After arrival in the United States, participants should present themselves at the nearest Social Security Office with their passport and Form DS-2019. In order to find a Social Security Office closest to you, please refer to the Social Security on-line Office Locator http://s3abaca.ssa.gov/pro/fol/fol-hom.html

Do I have to pay US taxes?

Yes. Working participants must pay US federal and state taxes. State income taxes vary (and some states do not have an income tax), but the federal income tax is indexed by the level of your wage. You should expect to pay about 25 percent of your gross salary in federal income taxes. Federal and state income taxes will automatically be deducted from your paycheck by your employer.


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