An Immigrant’s Actual J-1 Visa Work & Travel Experience

So many young people from around the world come to the US every year as part of Work & Travel program. Most of them have never been to America and find themselves very excited from the first minute they arrive into the country. So what is so special and unique about Work & Travel program?

First of all, it is the opportunity to see one of the greatest countries in the history of the humanity. I remember how thrilled I was when the plane landed in Washington DC. And even though I still had to switch to another plane (my original destination was Seattle, WA) I could not believe that I officially was in the country of freedom, a country, which was established on the principal of equal opportunities, a country, which produced so many greatest minds.

I read tons of books about America. And here I was in the middle of Washington Dulles airport all overwhelmed with my thoughts and not believing my own eyes. I know for sure that most of Work & Travel students experience the same type of emotions as I did on that day: excited and proud to be in the United States of America.

A week had not passed by since the moment of my arrival as the reality already hit me pretty harshly. Accommodation, which was provided by my employer, was an old piece of junk. For a person, who had traveled around and seen world and stayed at tens of students’ hostels this “apartment” looked like hell: I did not unpack my luggage – I was scared to touch anything in that place.

My job is even worse: a dirty pub, which not only made no money but also had a reputation of one of the most dangerous places in the city. And once again I could not believe my eyes: however, this time questioning myself: “What the hell am I doing here?”

The solution came to me very soon after meeting a couple of other Work & Travel students with similar problems. All of us ended up having the worst jobs, which Americans would never do and all of us wanted a change. Therefore, we moved to NYC. I remember standing in the middle of Times Square at around 10pm on a weekend night all surrounded by hurrying New-Yorkers, thousands of tourists with their huge cameras, busy taxi drivers, tasty Kebob’s smells, dusty air, and of course bright gigantic advertising boards.

That night changed my understanding about America all at once. The next day I found a job very easily and even though I changed my jobs about 5 others times I was the happiest Work & Travel student in the world as I found NYC and MYSELF – ALL AT ONCE AND FOREVER.

7 thoughts on “An Immigrant’s Actual J-1 Visa Work & Travel Experience

  1. This was a good insight into what i think im about to do to myself it would be nice to hear more experiances from people!

    and what company you used to sponser you over???


  2. Hi Mik,
    Yes there are plenty of experiences of many visa types including the J1 visa if you read the many posts.
    If you are interested in the J1 visa Work and Travel program, look at sponsor organizations like CIEE, Intrax, Inter Exchange, etc. They are designated by the US Government as official sponsors. You can actually work for most types of companies with some exceptions as you can see on their sites.
    Good Luck,

  3. Hi!

    I’m in New York through the program Work and Travel.
    My J1 visa expires next March 15th, and I still have the 30 days Grace Period.

    I would love to stay here longer, but legally. I do have a company who wanna hire me. Can I transfer for other J1 visa? Do I need to go to my country to get another visa?

    If I ask to change my visa and they deny, can I come back later?

    Thanks a lot,


  4. Hi Debora,
    The Work and Travel J1 visa transfer to another visa would have to be approved prior to your expiration date on March 15 (so not the grace period) which doesn’t leave you much time as the processing of US Visa transfers are not quick usually.
    So you may be better off applying for the new Internship J1 visa outside the US afterwards.
    I am not sure what country you are from so don’t know whether you are able to come to the US as a tourist with or without a visa. However denials for any visa can effect your chances of being approved for a B1/B2 tourist visa if they think you are using it to work or stay in the US.
    Good Luck,

  5. How possible is it for a J-1 WAT student change to the F-! visa status and continue studies in the States? If the application is approved, will a visa be issued while in the States if I’m not subject to the section 212(E), 2 year home-residency rule?

  6. Hi Donald,
    The home residency rule only applies to J1 Visa Professional/Practical Training visas which are generally issued for 18 months not the Work and Travel visas. Your actual visa stamp in the passport will tell you if you are subject to that rule. Many people transfer to the F1 visa from the J1 visa and most of the process is handled by the school you are attending.

  7. Hi, I’m a visiting scholar holding J1 visa restricted by the home residency rule. Can I open a samll business here and come back soon? What kind of visa do I need when I come back?

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