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Student Work and Travel Pilot Program

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of visa do I need in order to enter the U.S. on the 12-month Student Work and Travel Pilot Program?

The 12-month Student Work and Travel Pilot Program falls under the existing exchange visitor category. Under this visa category, international visitors experience and contribute to U.S. culture by participating in programs approved by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Student Work and Travel Pilot Program allows participants to combine work, and travel in the United States for up to 12 months.

What is the difference between the B-1/B-2 business and tourist visa and the Student Work and Travel Pilot Program visa?

Australian participants in the Student Work and Travel Pilot Program may work and travel in the U.S. for up to 12 months. The B-1/B-2 business and tourist visa allows short stays to conduct business meetings, attend conferences, visit family, or engage in other temporary business or tourist activities. B-1/B-2 visa holders may not work or study in the U.S.

What are the eligibility requirements for the visa?

The Student Work and Travel Pilot Program is based on the existing Exchange Visitor Program. In addition to the requirements for other exchange visa programs, participants traveling to the U.S. on the Student Work and Travel Pilot Program must also:

  1. Be a citizen of Australia;
  2. Be a bona fide post-secondary student or recent graduate, and provide evidence from post-secondary institution to this effect; and
  3. Not be accompanied by dependents.

Unlike participants in the Summer Work and Travel Program, Student Work and Travel Program participants are not required to return home in time for the academic school year to begin.

What is the first step in the application process?

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

Why do I need a sponsor? Who are the sponsors?

Sponsorship is a standard U.S. visa requirement for exchange visitor applicants. Participants must secure sponsorship from an approved exchange organization. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has initially approved the following sponsoring organizations for the Student Work and Travel Pilot Program:

Further information on program sponsorship for the Student Work and Travel Pilot Program can be obtained by contacting the individual sponsors listed above. Additional information on exchange visitor programs is available on the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Website.

Why are there there a limited number of sponsors?

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has initially approved the following sponsors for the Student Work and Travel Pilot Program. More organizations may apply to become sponsors in the future. The most current information on program sponsorship can be found on the ECA website.

Will the sponsoring organization find me a job? Do I need to have guaranteed employment to participate?

Designated sponsors are obliged to offer job placement, but it is not mandatory for the applicant. For those participants for whom employment has not been pre-arranged, sponsors must:

  1. Ensure that participants have sufficient financial resources to support themselves during their search for employment;
  2. Provide participants with pre-departure information that explains how to seek employment and secure lodging in the United States;
  3. Prepare and provide a job directory that includes as many job listings as the number of participants entering the United States without pre-arranged employment; and,
  4. Undertake reasonable efforts to secure suitable employment for participants unable to find jobs on their own after one week.
Once I have a sponsor, how do I apply for my visa?

Once you have obtained approval from a designated U.S. program sponsor, you may then apply for your visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Evidence of your acceptance into a designated program is Form DS-2019, issued to you by the program sponsor. For comprehensive information on how to apply for a visa at U.S. Consulates in Australia, including the documents necessary to complete the application process, click here.

Do all program sponsors require fees?

Individual sponsoring organizations set their administrative fees based on the nature and extent of the services included in the program. Please direct any inquires regarding program fees to the sponsoring organization you are considering.

What is "post-secondary education" for the purposes of this program?

To be considered a bona fide post-secondary student, the potential participant must have completed his/her freshman (first) year of a post-high school program such as a Bachelor's degree program or other course which will lead to the issuance of a degree.

Can students who study online or through distance learning be eligible for this program? Can the study be conducted part time?

No. In order to qualify for the 12 month program, the study must be completed on a full time basis in a classroom.

What is meant by the term "recent graduate" for the purposes of this program?

A recent graduate is an Australian citizen who has graduated from a post-secondary college/university in his or her home country within the last 12 months. The applicant must provide evidence of student status. For further guidance, please refer to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Website.

Are students attending vocational schools eligible for participation in this program?

The requirements are that an Australian citizen wishing to travel to the United States must qualify as a student; that is, someone who is currently enrolled in a bona fide post-secondary course of study or who has completed/graduated from a bona fide post-secondary course of study within the last 12 months. Evidence to this effect must be provided.

Students attending a vocational studies at TAFE are also eligible to participate in the Student Work and Travel Program.  The U.S. State Department has determined that TAFE meets the educational requirements of the Student Work and Travel Program.

Refer to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Website.

How long may I stay on the Student Work and Travel Pilot Program?

A valid U.S. visa allows a traveler to arrive at a port of entry in the United States any time during the validity of the visa. Permission to enter the United States, and the length of stay granted on each visit, is at the discretion of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), part of the Department of Homeland Security. The initial visa may be valid for up to twelve months from the date of issuance, and participants will generally be granted permission to remain in the United States for the entire duration of their status as a program participant. Participants will need to apply for new visas at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas if they depart the United States after their initial visa expires and they wish to return to the United States.

Can I adjust to a different visa status once I am in the United States?

Once you are in the United States you are responsible for maintaining the correct immigration status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For further information on changing to a different visa status once in the United States, you may visit the USCIS website at http://www.uscis.gov/.

Is there an age limit for the Student Work and Travel Pilot Program?

No.

Is there a limit on the number of visas issued?

The Student Work and Travel Program can only be entered into once, so only one visa can be issued for this particular program. However, applicants may complete other J1 programs afterward or before the 12 month program.

Are there any restrictions on the type of work that can be accepted on the Student Work and Travel Pilot Program?

Participants may accept a professional level position; however they may not be employed as domestic employees in U.S. households (E.g. child care, chauffeurs, gardeners, etc.); in positions requiring them to invest their own money for inventory (such as door-to-door sales); or in any employment involving any type of patient care (dentists, doctors, vets, nurses, physical therapists, etc.). Most participants typically work in non-skilled service positions at resorts, hotels, restaurants, and amusement parks. Summer internships in US businesses and other organizations (i.e., architecture, science research, graphic art/publishing and other media communication, advertising, computer software and electronics, and legal offices, etc.) are allowed.

Participants may not accept any position that may bring the Department or the Exchange Visitor Program into notoriety or disrepute or that would displace American workers. For more information please refer to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website.

I am an American citizen and want to know about working and traveling in Australia. How do I find out more information?

If you are an American citizen wishing to travel to Australia on the Student Work and Travel Program, you can find more information on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) website. The DIAC website also contains information on other work, student, and holiday visas for Australia.