Work And Travel: How To See The World While Studying?

The world is a vast and beautiful place. There are so many different things to see and do. The only way to do all of that is by traveling. However, it’s not possible to travel all the time or as much as you want. Our commitments like work or studying are the biggest hurdle between traveling a lot. We all have jobs and things to do which do not leave enough time on our plate to travel. However, the work and travel program in America is great for students. In this post, we will find out exactly how you can do it. Let’s get started.

Work And Travel: All You Need To Know

What is work and travel?

If you’re a college student, you’ve probably heard a lot about Work and Travel. Of course, being able to work in a country like America during the summer and at the same time take the opportunity to take a vacation and explore the country can give you a lot of money. 

Work and Travel (WAT), which is familiar to almost every student studying at the university, has been controlled by the US Department of State since 1961, carried out in partnership with the contracted companies (consulting companies) determined by the USA and sponsors in the USA, for at least 1 semester. It is a cultural exchange program designed for undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral students.

During the Work and Travel program, which offers you the opportunity to legally stay, work permit, and travel around the country as freely as an American citizen during your summer vacation, you will not only make new friends from different nationalities, have an idea about the culture of America, but also feel free to work in different cities without the help of your family, while practicing English. 

What are the terms of work and travel?

  • The Work and Travel age limit is generally stated as 18-26, but students over the age of 26 have the opportunity to participate in the program.
  • Having a GPA above 2.0 is an advantage for you.
  • English knowledge of at least the Intermediate (B1) level is required.
  • For the Work and Travel program, it is necessary to apply for a J1 visa and get approval.
  • The WAT program should begin in mid-May at the earliest and end in October at the latest.
  • The duration of each student’s work and travel program varies in proportion to the start and end dates of their universities.

Who Can Participate in the Work and Travel Program?

  • A formal education university student is required. It is sufficient to have received at least 1 semester of education.
  • Students in the master’s program with a thesis can only participate in their first year.
  • Since the 4th year university student will go to the work and travel program after graduating, it may cause visa rejection, even if it is a small amount, so consultancy firms may prefer to accept a small number of university senior students.
  • Doctoral students can also be included in the program.
  • You can participate in the program multiple times.

Work and Travel Registration Dates

In general, sponsors in the USA start sending their job options to contracted consulting companies as of August. Work and travel registration dates start in August. During the WAT program, you need an official employment contract document from the United States so that you can continue your transactions without any problems after you have decided on the field of work you will work with with your advisor and after the job interview. Since sending this document may take time, it is recommended to complete the registration by the 2nd week of January at the latest.

Work and Travel State Preference

In which state you will work in America is an important decision process that you must determine and that greatly affects your work and travel adventure. While some of the students prefer to work in a cosmopolitan and vibrant state close to the sea, students who think that they can work more efficiently in quieter and smaller states can choose the regions that are suitable for them.

Choosing the right state is much more important than you think, in order to improve your English in a state where international students are few, to save money more easily by optimizing your living expenses, including accommodation, and to visit big cities as you wish on your travel days. Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Massachusetts, Maine, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Virginia, and New York are the most popular preferred states.

Where to stay during Work and Travel?

The consulting company you decide to work with will generally tell you,

  • Arranging your accommodation
  • Your employment process
  • Obtaining your DS-2019 form, which is an eligibility document containing the SEVIS number, which is mandatory for students who will participate in WAT programs
  • Your program and visa procedures
  • He advises on your health and accident insurance (usually included in the fee).

If you are going to cover the accommodation expenses yourself in work and travel, it is important to find out if there is an accommodation deposit in the accommodation. After arriving in the USA, you need at least 2 weeks to receive your salary. For this reason, if a deposit is requested, it is recommended that you have an average of $800-1000 along with your living costs as pocket money. Some sponsors in the USA may have their own accommodation. It is also possible to encounter jobs that do not have an accommodation fee.

Work and travel visa interview

After making your J1 visa application with your advisor, you should have the DS-160 electronic application Form, SEVIS document, DS-2019 work and travel eligibility form, and your transcript in a sealed envelope with you on the day of your appointment. Work and travel visa interview consists of 3 stages. If it is positive after passport control, fingerprint and interview, you can get your visa, cut your flight ticket, and count the days to go to America.

How to get a work and travel tax refund?

Students participating in the Work and Travel program must pay 2 types of taxes, Federal Income tax (10-15%) and state income tax (5-8%) during their employment. Federal income tax is the same everywhere, while State income tax can vary from state to state. Apart from these mandatory taxes, taxes can also be applied.

If there is any tax refund company that your consultancy company has contracted with or recommends, you can recover these taxes for you or in addition to the W-2 form sent to you by your employer in January after you return to your country, which includes the income you have earned during your employment and the taxes you have paid. You can apply for a work and travel tax refund with your DS-2019 form, social security number, passport and US entry-exit dates, and you can get most of the taxes you paid after 5 months at the latest.

Work and Travel: FAQs

Who is ineligible for work and travel?

Open education students who do not have attendance requirements, undergraduate or graduate students cannot benefit from this program.

How many months do Work and Travel take?

The duration of the program usually lasts up to 4.5 months, although it varies by country. Apart from your working time, you are given 1 month of travel time. You can adjust your travel time to return to your country by October 1 at the latest. Thus, you can catch the start date of your continuing university in your home country. In addition, it should be noted that you have the right to work for the period specified in the DS-2019 program eligibility form, which will be sent by your sponsors in the USA, and it is not possible to extend the period.

How much are the work and travel Prices?

The cost of the program is between 2,400 and 3,250 USD on average. Program fee prices may vary depending on the date of registration and the consultancy company. In addition to the program fee, the consular fee of 380 USD (visa + SEVIS) and flight tickets should also be taken into account. In addition, you need to allocate pocket money for your first month’s expenses in the USA.

Can you get a refund if you do not participate in the work and travel program?

If you had to cancel your program due to visa refusal or other possible mishaps and want to get a refund, you should contact your consultancy firm. In addition, it would be much more accurate to talk face-to-face about the cancellation and return conditions of the company you are consulting.

How much money can be earned in the Work and travel program?

Work and travel salaryThe amount varies according to the state, region and line of business where you work. Salaries in the United States are generally paid every 2 weeks, if monthly payments are to be made, this must be specified in advance. Since the minimum wage is different in each state, it is recommended to check beforehand. In addition, situations such as your overtime work and the fact that you are working in a second job also affect your earnings. In general, you work between 32-40 hours per week and as of 2021, the minimum wage in the USA is $7.25 per hour and can go up to $14 depending on your job. It should also be taken into account that if you work more than 40 hours, you have the right to demand 1.5 times the wage you receive per hour.

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