Working in America

Do I need a summer job before I go?

All students travelling on the J1 programme MUST have an approved seasonal job before they can take part on the programme.

How can I find a summer job before going?

You can avail of one of the hundreds of job interview slots that USIT can arrange for you over the season, or you can find your own summer job independently. If you decide to do it independently, speaking with family members, friends and previous J1 students is a great way to make connections. Make sure to get your CV converted into the American style resume and start to apply for summer jobs as soon as possible.

What kind of jobs can I do?

Any summer job, whether or not it is included in the list below, must be generally compatible with the rules, regulations, and intent of the program. Please note, you must work an average of 32 hours per week. Participants must be able to balance their work responsibilities with time spent exploring their local community, learning about the U.S. and getting to know Americans. In addition to the above, any summer job that could bring notoriety or disrepute to the Exchange Visitor Program is expressly prohibited by the program regulations.

It is also important to note that you need to ensure that all Work & Travel USA jobs are "seasonal" and not taking work from American Citizens. The typical Summer Work Travel job is in seasonal/resort areas in a seasonal business. There are seasonal needs outside resort areas and there may be suitable jobs in these areas. If a job is in an office environment, it should be seasonal and NOT an internship ie. if there is intent for professional development or some sort of career experience, then it likely belongs on the Intern side. In addition, you need to be careful that you are not working in isolated/remote areas.

The following job types are currently prohibited by the US Department of State:

  • Au pairs, child carers, mother's helper, nanny
  • Babysitter, maid, or other jobs of a domestic nature in private homes
  • Childcare provider
  • Medical Services (medical interns or anything involving hands-on therapy, counselling, administering treatment or making diagnoses of medical, psychiatric or psychological patients)
  • Jobs involving sustained physical contact with other people
  • Veterinary Science (making medical diagnoses or administering treatment to animals)
  • Teaching, including but not limited to Language teacher, teaching assistants, or full-fledged trained teacher
  • Coaching positions or as a Personal Trainer
  • Beauty therapy jobs including massage, hairdressing, manicurist positions or any jobs involving 'hands-on' therapy of any kind
  • Farmer ranch jobs
  • Camp Counsellors
  • Crew member on ship or airplanes or as pilots
  • Certain casino positions
  • Pyramid salespersons
  • Jobs involving driving a vehicle
  • Operators of pedicabs, rolling chairs, or other passenger-carrying vehicles for hire
  • Jobs in gaming/gambling
  • Jobs in Manufacturing, warehouses, or factories/fisheries
  • Moving companies or catalogue/online distribution centres
  • Mall kiosks or carts
  • Jobs in modelling
  • Jobs involving controlled hazardous substances
  • Employment with a staffing agency
  • Commission-only positions
  • Jobs in the adult entertainment industry are not permitted, including but not limited to: escort services, adult book/video stores, massage parlors, strip clubs
  • Jobs requiring shifts that are predominantly between 10.00pm and 6.00am are not permitted
  • Lifeguard with a pool management company
  • White water rafting guide
  • Vacation home cleaning crew
  • Housekeepers, dishwashers or laundry
  • Apartment building doormen
  • Jobs with multiple sites of activity, i.e. tent setup, landscaping, catering
  • Bouncer or security positions
  • Positions involving any advance or start-up fee to the participant or with a travelling concession business
  • Jobs identified as hazardous to youth by the US Department of Labour
  • Labour/construction work

Are There New Rules For Getting Jobs Approved Because Of Covid-19?

Covid-19 related enhanced Job vetting measures: In order to move forward with the approval process during the Covid-19 global pandemic, USIT & CIEE will continue to require enhanced vetting measures that put the health, safety, and welfare of participants and host communities at the forefront of their assessment. These enhanced vetting measures not only focus on health and safety but are fully supporting the State Department in their efforts to protect the reputation of the program during these complicated times. As the Covid-19 landscape continues to shift, CIEE is actively discussing their specific expectations and internal processes to appropriately vet host employers. When sourcing your own job, it’s important for you to inform any prospective employers of additional information they will be required to confirm:
  • The Host Employer agrees to follow the CDC guidelines related to workplace safety and sanitization, as well as all local health and safety requirements.
  • The Host Employer has a contingency plan in case of an outbreak in the workplace.
  • If the Host Employer does not provide housing, they agree to provide substantial assistance to Participants to secure housing prior to their arrival, including providing housing leads and/or local resources.
  • If the Host Employer does provide housing, they agree to have a contingency plan in place in the event of an outbreak in housing.
  • The Host Employer agrees to inform Participants of any arrival testing or quarantine requirements in advance of the placement interview.
  • The Host Employer agrees to support Participants in the event of an outbreak, shelter-in-place order, or border restriction preventing a successful return for the Participant. This includes but is not limited to: providing hours, stipend, extending the stay and reducing housing costs, or providing food.
  • Should hours be reduced due to COVID-19, the Host Employer will make every attempt to provide additional hours in other departments as appropriate, or reduce housing/food costs, and/or provide a stipend to the Participant.
  • The Host Employer agrees that there must be a documented, seasonal need for Work & Travel USA Participants to be placed. If there were any domestic staff impacted by layoffs or furloughed, domestic staff must first be rehired in order to host Participants. Work & Travel USA Participants must not displace American workers.
  • Host employers must document efforts to hire Americans into the seasonal positions which Work & Travel USA Participants will be placed. This documentation may be requested by CIEE at any point within the year.
  • The Host Employer agrees they have reviewed all other resources and expectations CIEE has provided.

Can I change my summer job while in the USA?

If a participant wishes to leave their employer, they must contact the US Sponsor to explain why they want to change jobs and seek approval. If approval is granted, they must work a minimum notice period of 2 weeks before finishing with their current employer.

Can I have more than one job?

Yes. You can have as many as you like provided they all meet the programme requirements and have been approved by the US Sponsor.

How much can I earn?

It's up to you how much money you can earn. The more hours you work and the more jobs you have will determine whether you'll be able to pay off that student loan on your return!! However, participants working for 'salary only' must be paid at least the federal minimum wage. Participants working for 'salary plus tips' will receive a lower basic wage.

How do I apply for a Social Security Card?

All first time applicants of the Summer J1 programme must apply for a Social Security card. Only if you have obtained a Social Security Number in the past, through a previous US visa are you exempt from this requirement. In this case you can use the same card / number again.

If you have not applied before you will need to locate your nearest Social Security office. Try to avoid applying between the peak hours, we recommend you go early in the morning to avoid the long queues. You will need to bring to the office:

  • Your "Dear Social Security Officer" Letter
  • DS 2019
  • Your passport with your J-1 Visa stapled inside.

Always ask for a receipt of application from the Social Security Officer. This will assist you to prove to potential US Employers you have applied for your SSN.

Please note that once you have applied for your Social Security card, it is legal to be paid by your US Employer. Please download the US Sponsor legal opinion letter and give it to your employer if they have any questions.

If you have lost your Social Security card then please visit for instructions on how to obtain a replacement card.

If you have applied for your Social Security Number before but never received the number / card, you should contact the Federal Benefits Unit in the US Embassy on 01-6688777, ext. 2112 (8.30am-11.30am Monday- Friday excluding Wed).

Please note, the S.S.A. is a government agency that is not affiliated with the US Sponsor or USIT in any way. The US Sponsor & USIT do not have permission to obtain information about your application, number or card.

Do you need to be above 21 to serve a bar in the US?

Yes however, there are other positions available in bars/restaurants such as servers, hosts, bussers that you can work in if you are under 21.

What’s the minimum amount of weeks can I work?

You can legally work from the 15th of May to the 15th of September and have 30 days of travel after your work date.

What is the minimum number of hours I can work?

The minimum number of hours you will be given is 32 hours a week, which is required by your visa.

Can we fill out the application and decide on a US location at a later date or do we have to have a location picked when filling out the form initially?

Yes, your US location isn’t decided until you have secured your J1 job.

Do you need relevant experience for specific jobs? bar experience etc

No, Most jobs whether you have experience or not will provide full onboard training when you start.

How many jobs am I allowed to apply for? At one time

Through the USIT J1 Job’s Hub you can apply for one interview at a time.

Do you manage to make enough money out there to go traveling at the end after all the living costs and such expenses?

Yes, working a minimum of 32 hours per week as well as tips if you are working in the service industry will more than cover the entire summer including travel depending on how you spend your money.

Can we expect to bring funds back to Ireland on the J1 programme?

Depending on how you spend your money you can easily come home with money.

Will I get taxed for my J1 Job?

Yes, you do get taxed for the work you do, which can be claimed back when you return home.

Can I do a J1 to Hawaii or Alaska through USIT if I find my own job?

You can work in Alaska but unfortunately you are not permitted to work in Hawaii. However, you can travel there on your 30 days travel
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