Work and Travel USA

Work and Travel USA

Do you want to leverage at fullest your university break? Don’t think twice and dive into a new experience with the work and travel USA program.

The Summer Work Travel (SWT) is a program promoted by the United States government, which facilitates cultural exchange between foreign students and the American population.

There are several Spanish-speaking countries that are part of this experience, whose students have the opportunity to live and work for a maximum period of 4 months during their summer vacations from the university or higher institute between the months of December to April.

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List of countries that can apply to the Work and Travel program:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Ecuador 
  • El Salvador
  • Spain
  • Guatemala
  • Mexico 
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Dominican Republic
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

Check the complete list here

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Work and Travel is an excellent way to discover what the United States has to offer, while inserting yourself into the most important job market globally, while improving your English and traveling around the country. To participate in the program you will need to obtain a J1 visa (Exchange Visitor) and meet the following requirements:

  • Have a passport with a minimum validity of 6 months after the start date of the program
  • Be between 18 and 30 years old at the time of applying
  • Be a regular student of university or technical careers and have completed the first cycle of studies
  • Have a functional level of English (you will not have to present an international exam certificate such as TOEFL, IELTS, etc.) but you will have to take a language proficiency test at an agency authorized to offer a Work and Travel experience. The cost of the program ranges from US$1,450 to US$1,950, depending on the month and the agency you sign up with.

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You should take into account that apart from the cost of the program you will have to pay a SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee of US$35 to the U.S. Inmigration and Customs Enforcement so that the sponsor (North American agency that manages your program) through the exchange agency provides you with the DS 2019, in addition to canceling the consular fee of US$160 to the United States Embassy.

It should be noted that the DS 2019 is the most important document of the program, since it certifies your eligibility as a student to participate in Work and Travel and is essential to apply for your J1 visa. For the visa you will have to make an appointment for an interview at the United States consulate in your country of origin and pay the cost of the visa mentioned above, on the official website of the U.S. VISA Information and Appointment Services (choose the non immigrant visa applicant option), but first you must complete your DS 160 electronic visa application at the following page.

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Regarding the income you can obtain, it is not a secret that your level of English will play a fundamental role for you to get a good job offer and therefore a better paid position from your employer.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour (some states charge at this rate), although it actually varies depending on the state where you work. Being New York (only Long Island, Westchester & NYC) and California the states with the highest minimum wage, they pay US$15 per hour. Without forgetting the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.), a federal district that pays US$15.20 per hour and is located within the state of Washington, even though it is not part of this or any other state.

See the complete list of minimum wages by state here.

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Since 2018, all J1 visa holders must pay 10% income tax if they earned up to US$9,525 and 12% if they earned between US$9,526 and US$38,700 during the same fiscal year, it is worth mentioning that said taxes will already be deducted. of your paychecks.

The new tax law eliminated the personal exemption (tax-free amount) so most Work and Travel participants, whose status is Nonresident Alien, had federal tax refunds reduced. Being the only reason to be entitled to this refund, the fact that more taxes are deducted from your income than what corresponds to you.

However, the removal of the personal exemption does not affect state tax refunds. This means that a J1 visa holder is likely to be entitled to a state tax refund, despite having a federal tax refund, if that is the case.

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In summary, before the new tax law goes into effect, a Work and Travel participant could receive 100% of their tax refund (federal and state) and therefore recover more money. With the new measure, you can only get a small percentage back at tax time.

Now that you have all the information, grab your bags and head out on your next adventure to the United States!

If you want personalized advice on this or another international program, you need to present your tax return, or help with the visa process, you can schedule your appointment here.

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