Eight years ago, almost every university student from the Easter-European countries was coming for the “Work and Travel” (WAT) exchange visitor program in the US. These WAT programs were so popular especially in the Eastern European countries. Each of these students usually came to the U.S. for a period of 3-4 months and temporary worked as a server, house-keeper, lifeguard, etc. for about 3 months and afterwards traveled around the US free as a bird. The cost of the program used to be and still is around 2’000$ not including the costs of traveling and accommodation upon arrival in the U.S. This visa program, which allows students from Slovakia, Czech republic, Poland, Bulgaria, Russia to work in the U.S., is called J-1 exchange visitor visas.
If you are considering participation in the WAT program, there are several agencies in your home country, which can help you organize everything and prepare you for the trip to the U.S. Usually these agencies charge around 400$ program fee, SEVIS 35$, VISA fee 130$, plus air ticket around 500$. Required budget that student must show upon entering into the U.S. is around 950$.
Now, how does it really work?
Agencies offering WAT exchange programs are cooperating with partnership organizations in the U.S., which are designated U.S. sponsors authorized by DHS to issue DS-2019 form, which is crucial part for getting J-1 Visa. Therefore, these local agencies are not the actual sponsors, which guarantee your program and temporary stay in the U.S. There is a list of sponsoring organizations who can sponsor your stay in the US when you decide to come as an exchange J-1 visitor under this link: Designated Sponsoring Agencies in the US. Alternatively, you can contact Navrat & Oslanec that is also cooperating with the U.S. designated sponsoring organization to help you get your J-1 visa!
WAT program is one of many programs allowing foreigners (J-1 students or J-1 participants) to come to the U.S. The J-1 classification is also authorized for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.
Examples of exchange visitors include, but are not limited to:
- Professors or scholars;
- Research assistants;
- Nannies/au pairs;
- Camp counselors.
If you need help or assistance with your J-1 Visa, please contact NAO immigration & visa services today.