Working in the United States
Please take a moment to read the content below regarding working life in the U.S.
Arriving in the U.S.
Before your arrival, confirm your arrival details with your host employer and the IAESTE United States National Office. You may enter the United States up to 30 days before the start date listed on your DS-2019 form. During your travel to the United States, you will receive Form 6059B. You will be able to access your I-94 record using the following link: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/. At your port of entry, you will need to present the following documents to a U.S. inspection agent:
- Passport with J-1 visa
- Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility)
- Training/Internship Placement Plan (Form DS-7002)
- I-901 (Receipt of Payment for SEVIS fee)
- Form 6059B (Customs Declaration Form) – you will receive this during your travel to the United States
Please submit your U.S. address to your IAESTE representative as soon as possible after entering the U.S. We will send you instructions on how to apply for the Social Security Number once we receive your address. If you do not send this information within 30 days, we will be unable to validate you in SEVIS (U.S. Department of Homeland Security database for tracking exchange visitors).
Within 30 days of your arrival to the United States, you must send your “initial evaluation” form to IAESTE United States. You will receive this form at the same time that you receive your certificate of eligibility.
Often times, companies will not be able to pay their interns until they receive a Social Security Number. For this reason, you should prepare for a delay in your first payment from the employer. You should come to the United States with enough money to last at least 4-6 weeks.
For IAESTE positions in the United States, IAESTE United States and the host employer will usually offer advice about locating housing in the local area. While your host employer and IAESTE United States will support your search, you will be responsible for locating your own housing. You should prepare by looking on the internet for housing options before your arrival!
Housing costs can vary greatly from one part of the country to another. You can look at the Work Offered form to have an approximate cost of living in your host area, as well as a cost of living estimate for your workplace area.
Please reach out to your IAESTE representative for advice on housing in your host city.
By the time you start your internship, you should have already received a few documents about U.S. culture and daily life. If you have not received such documents, contact IAESTE United States or the IAESTE National Committee in your host country. As you already know, English is the primary language used in the workplace.
It is important that you become familiar with the Training/Internship Placement Plan (Form DS-7002) that you and your supervisor signed during the visa application process. This document should serve as an outline of your responsibilities and tasks.
Please remember that your host employer expects you to be a productive intern that benefits the workplace. This means you must show up to work on time and follow your host employer’s rules. However, if you experience any difficulties in the workplace, please feel free to contact IAESTE United States and we will try to help resolve the problems. We are always here to help!
Responsibilities and the Training/Internship Placement Plan
Your training plan (DS-7002 form) should provide an outline of your tasks and responsibilities during your internship. As flexibility is highly valued in the American workforce, it is possible that you will be asked to take on additional tasks not listed on your training plan. If you feel that your employer is not following the training plan, ask to speak with your supervisor and find out how you both can best benefit from a renewed plan of action.
The Training/Internship Placement Plan should be seen as a contract between you and your employer; therefore, under most circumstances, you are not allowed to change host companies as a J-1 visa holder. In extreme cases, you may petition Cultural Vistas for a host company change. Speak with your Cultural Vistas representative for more information.
Discrimination and Harassment
In the U.S., workplace discrimination and harassment based on race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, or disability are illegal and should not be tolerated. These norms reflect many Americans’ desire to be sensitive to individuals coming from very different backgrounds.
If your colleagues make comments or engage in behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable, you should inform your supervisor or human resources representative immediately. If you have any questions about behavior that might be inappropriate, or if your host company does not promptly take action to resolve the problem, please notify your Cultural Vistas representative.
Learn more about U.S. laws concerning discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
All employees and interns are entitled to a safe work environment. If you notice conditions that could lead to serious injury or death, contact your supervisor or human resources representative immediately.
Please notify your Cultural Vistas representative immediately if your host company asks you to complete tasks that you deem unsafe.
Alcohol and Tobacco
The legal drinking age for any alcoholic drink, including beer and wine, is 21. For this reason, always be sure that you have photo identification with you when entering a pub or bar. You will be required to show your identification, even if purchasing alcohol at a store. In most states, you must be 18 to buy cigarettes, and it is becoming increasingly common for public places to be non-smoking.