Firstly, congratulations on being placed at a camp for this summer! If you haven’t been placed yet, don’t worry and just keep waiting, because your agency haven’t forgotten about you and are on the hunt for the perfect camp for you… you most likely WILL be placed, so just be patient.
So now that you’ve been hired and are getting all excited about heading off to the USA for the summer, I bet you’re wondering what’s next in the process. Finding a camp job is just the beginning! Don’t panic though, if you take it step by step it’s all super easy and you’ll be at camp before you know it.
Step 1: Your Camp’s Paperwork
Read all the info you receive from your camp, sign your contract (and any other paperwork they request) and send it back. This might also include setting up a US bank account (depending on how your camp choose to pay their international staff) which can seem a bit complicated so I would just advise emailing your camp if you get stuck as they’ll be able to easily help you out… they have been hiring international staff for a VERY long time!
Step 2: Getting Your J1 Visa
The biggest thing you’ll have to deal with between now and leaving for camp is getting your J1 visa so you are actually allowed to work in America. It seems very overwhelming at first but really if you just follow your agency’s well laid out instructions you’ll have nothing to worry about. I would suggest putting aside an afternoon to just get it all done and dusted so it’s a weight off your mind. I’ll break it down into simple steps you need to take:
1. Wait for your agency to update your account with your SEVIS number and anything else you might need for step 3.
2. Get some US visa photos taken, or take them yourself and resize on your computer – they need to be square and 600×600 pixels.
3. Wait for your agency to send you your DS2019 form. DO NOT LOSE THIS…YOU NEED TO KEEP IT WITH YOUR PASSPORT THE ENTIRE TIME YOU ARE IN THE USA.
4. Fill in the online DS160 form (your agency will usually have an instruction form to follow) . Just take it page by page, upload your photo and answer every question as fully as you can (you will need to know your parents dates of birth!). There is a little question mark button next to each question which will help you out on any confusing questions, but if you’re really stuck, don’t try and blag it, just give your agency a call/email and they’ll be able to quickly help you out. You will also need the names, phone numbers, email addresses and home addresses of two people (who aren’t relatives) who can verify who you are and why you are going to America.
5. It’s time to book your Visa appointment! Again, using the instructions that your agency provide, go through the government website to book your appointment at your nearest embassy or consulate. Select ‘Non-Immigrant’ visa, follow the instructions and then when you get to the bit that asks what type of visa you are applying for, click on Student, find where it says Exchange Visitor, then select J1 from the drop-down menu. Pay the MRV fee and save your receipt (you will need this to complete your appointment booking.
6. Next up is to print your SEVIS fee receipt. Go to the website, fill in the required details and print off your receipt! Simples.
7. You’re almost there…time to get all your documents together. You will need:
- DS160 confirmation page with your photo on it
- Printed copy of your Interview Appointment Letter (emailed to you)
- Signed DS2019 Form
- MRV fee receipt (this will also be in an email)
- SEVIS fee receipt
- Visa Issuance fee.
- A letter explaining your travel purpose
- A copy of your placement letter
- Current bank statement (preferably showing that you have $500+)
8. Go to your visa appointment. It’s super easy…just show up with your documents, be polite and be ready to do a lot of waiting around. If you have all the correct documents the process should be pretty simple and you’ll know before you leave whether or not your visa has been granted.
9. Your passport (with visa stuck inside) will take about a week to be returned to you. Check everything on the visa is correct and then celebrate!
Step 3: Flights & Insurance
Most agencies provide you with 90 days medical insurance cover, but depending on how long your contract runs for, you may need to extend it. Get your flights booked as soon (if they’re not included in your agency package) as you can (just FYI you are allowed to stay in the States for up to 30 days after your contract at camp ends) – STA Travel have some great deals – and it’s time to start getting VERY excited.
Step 4: Double Checking & Packing
In the month or so before you depart for the USA, it’s a good idea to just go back and double check you’ve returned all the required documents to both your agency and your camp and have everything you need for a brilliant summer. Do you need a Global SIM card for your phone, what are you doing about money (get some US$ or maybe a travel money cash card), and have you booked your first night’s stay in the US before you head to camp the next day? And finally, do you know what you’re going to pack?!
Working at summer camp is an absolutely amazing experience and the ‘getting there’ process doesn’t need to be difficult or stressful at all. If you just follow the steps and do one thing at a time as required, it’s really pretty simple and totally stress-free. Good luck and get ready to have an amazing summer!
If you have any other questions about the process between getting placed and getting to camp, just pop a message in the comments and I’ll get back to you asap!