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Paperwork explained

Another jargon-busting breakout brought to you by Camp Leaders…

From when you first apply for your J1 cultural exchange visa to when you arrive at summer camp there will be a few forms to fill in. These are so you can be paid and to verify your arrival to the United States.

When you arrive at camp, someone will be on hand to help you fill the new forms in, so have a look but don't touch (not just yet).

J-1 cultural exchange visa

This represents a permission from the US Government to work legally in the US as a Support Staff or Counselor at a Summer Camp. It runs from the start date of your camp contract, until 30 days after the end date of your contract. This means that you have 30 days in which to travel within the USA before you are required to leave the country.

The visa itself is attached inside your passport. It shows your photo and other information. You may only work as a Counselor, or as Support Staff at the camp for which you have a contract. You must arrive at your camp on the date designated on your camp contract, or your visa may be cancelled.

Camps are required to notify the US Department of State that you have arrived. If you do not, then your presence in the USA becomes illegal. So just double check that they do.

DS-2019 form

This form is issued by our US Department of State accredited visa sponsor, Cultural Homestay International (CHI). It certifies you as eligible to take part in the cultural exchange program, and is a vital part of the application process for a J-1 Visa. After your J-1 Visa appointment at the Embassy or Consulate, it will be returned to you with your passport and visa.

It forms part of your 'work permit', and must be kept safe with your passport.

Your passport and visa are no good without this form - so remember to take it with you! It is headed 'CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY FOR EXCHANGE VISITOR (J-1) STATUS'

SEVIS I-901 receipt

SEVIS stands for 'Student Exchange Visitor Information System'. It is a system whereby the US Department of State keeps track of all participants on the J-1 Visa program.

This form indicates that the SEVIS fee has been paid, and will be required for your J-1 Visa appointment at the US Embassy or Consulate. We pay for this form for you and will let you know your receipt number through your profile, so you can print it out.

You should carry it with you when you enter America.

Customs form

On the flight, you will be issued with a customs form. *All *travellers to the USA are required to fill this out.

The immigration officer you meet upon your arrival will stamp it and return it to you. On leaving the baggage hall, after picking up your luggage, you will give this form to a customs officer.

Social security

This form will be filled out at summer camp.

The US Government requires that all employees apply for a Social Security number.

Your camp will help you do this after you have been at camp for about a week. It may involve a visit to the local Social Security office, or bringing someone from their office to your camp. For this you'lll need your passport, J-1 Visa, DS-2019 and your camp contract.

I-9 form

This form will be filled out at summer camp

It's required by all staff. It's a verification that you are eligible and certified to work legally. It is a straightforward form, and will require your passport, J-1 Visa and DS-2019.

Your camp will help you fill this out. You will also be required to access your 'I-94 Arrival/Departure record' held with the US Customs and Border Control at the following website.

W-4 form

This form will be filled out at summer camp

This form is for tax purposes. Your camp might 'withhold' a small portion of your salary as tax.

If they do, you are entitled to claim this amount back, because you are not a US citizen. Just keep hold of your payslips.

Your home country Camp Leaders office will be able to help you with this.

Cultural experience questionnaire

This form will be filled out at summer camp

Every 30 days you are required to fill out a short online questionnaire. This is for the US DoS (Department of State) to ensure that your camp is following their obligations to look after you properly and that you're experiencing American culture whilst you're over there.

You will receive further information on this via e-mail, directly from your visa sponsor Cultural Homestay International (CHI).

Know your summer camp paperwork