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What do you need to know as a USA Work & Travel employer? ( You can visit Sivux Support Center Here )

You will be looking for the answers to many questions - from the process of applying for a Social Security Number to the taxes for your foreign employees, from the every day "Hi, how are you?" to their surprised faces during the first few days. SIVUX has vast experience in international exchange and successful partnership with many US businesses during their years of administrating the USA Work & Travel Program. Do not hesitate to contact us and ask any questions, as well as to share the positive experience that your company is enjoying.

Social Security

All USA Work & Travel participants MUST secure a Social Security number (SSN) in order to work legally in the United States.
The participant may apply for a Social Security card at the Social Security office nearest to their place of employment, upon arrival in the United States. The students may locate the nearest Social Security office by looking on the Social Security Administration's web site at www.ssa.gov.

In order to apply for a Social Security number, the participant must show: Passport, J-1 Visa, DS-2019 Form, I-94 card, Sponsorship letter and proof of employment. It will take approximately 15 workdays to receive a Social Security Number and 2-3 months for the card.

The process to obtain a Social Security number is supported by the SEVIS system. The U.S. Department of State is going to use SEVIS as an alternate means to conduct status inquiries on students who have applied for a social security number. The Social Security offices will be using the SEVIS system to verify the students' status. Once the student has been properly registered in SEVIS (validated), the status verifiers will be able to successfully search SEVIS and provide the necessary validation information to the Social Security officials. This should result in students receiving social security numbers in a more timely fashion.

Please note that it is legal for the participants to work without a Social Security number. The verification of application to the SSA and the DS-2019 forms are sufficient documentation to hire and pay to your employees.


All participants in the USA Work & Travel Program are required to pay taxes. However, because they are exchange visitors and holders of a J-1 visa, they do not need to pay all taxes. They MUST pay U.S. income tax.

Non-exempt taxes:

  • Federal Income Tax
  • State Income Tax
  • City Income Tax

Exempt taxes:

  • Social Security and Medicare Tax (FICA)*
  • Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)*

*These deductions should not be taken out of the participants' paychecks.

Tax Returns

All USA Work & Travel participants are required and responsible for filing U.S. tax returns by April 15th. After the end of the tax year, the employers mail their W-2 forms. The students should make sure to leave self-stamped envelopes for the employer before departing the U.S. so they can mail the W-2 form. If the students do not receive the W-2 form by March 1, they should contact the employer directly and request replacements. To file a tax return, they must complete separate forms for federal taxes and state/local taxes. All forms are available on SIVUX web site, They may also download the tax forms from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website: www.irs.gov Links to state tax forms are also available on the IRS website.


The participant insurance is compulsory and is included in the program fee. The insurance is valid for a maximum of 4 months. Coverage is through CareMed Travel Insurance. CareMed's Claims office in the U.S. is in Stamford, CT. The 24-hour Assistance Line is: 1-877-708-6992 (within the US only) and their web-site is www.caremed-assistance.com.

Should the student become ill, it is recommended that they go to the nearest hospital or medical facility. If it is a true emergency, they should go to an emergency room. Most hospitals will take the insurance and bill the carrier, minus the $ 100 deductible. Most Urgent Care facilities ask for payment upfront. In that case, the participant should pay and submit a claims form to Caremed for reimbursement, minus the $100 deductible (per incident).

Please note that if the participant goes to the Emergency Room of a hospital in case of non-emergency, their deductible will be $250. Please advise them to call the doctor or Urgent Care Center and make an appointment.

Useful guide for the manager of foreign workers

1 - Welcome:

Give a "Welcome to the U.S.A." package to newcomers. It shows that you are aware of the major change they have made in their lives. It projects your concern for their well being, not only in the business place, but also in the greater picture, their new country. Prepare a guide to the city. Combine information from the Yellow Pages, the Chamber of Commerce and other appropriate sources. Add a map and you will have a City Guide. The learning curve in adjusting to the American lifestyle is longer than most people think it is and there are many pieces to the puzzle.

2 - Goals of the Business:
Explain the long-range mission of the business. This gives a greater sense of destiny to newcomers in the organization. It provides a feeling of belonging in the enterprise with a view to a goal. At an emotional level, it embraces newcomers into the business enterprise. This is what will spark newcomers into thinking "out of the box". They will view the objectives of the business with the benefit of their diverse experience.

3 - Duties of the Position:
This should be standard policy for all employees. It defines the expectations from workers. A recruitment advertisement is general and is designed to throw out a net to get the most talented people to apply for the position. When you ultimately hire someone, it is essential to be specific about the duties for that particular person.

4 - Buddy System:
Create a system of mentors, fellow workers who are prepared to guide and direct newcomers. It will be a comfort zone, especially when everything in a person's life, from soap powder to currency, has changed. Your immediate intervention by introducing a newcomer to a mentor shows that you care and have taken the initiative in this regard.

Communicating with your international employees

1 - Speak slowly:
It takes time for the newcomer to translate and process information. Allow the person enough time to complete the three-step process of hearing, translating and understanding.

2 - Speak in short sentences:
It is like eating small bites of a sandwich. It is easier to chew and digest that way.

3 - Use simple words:
"Genius is in simplicity". Do not forget this principle.

4 - Avoid using abbreviations and slangs:
"FYI, the office is open to you 7/24/365. We encourage thinking out of the box".

5 - Humor:
Humor is great. There is nothing like humor to bond and bridge differences. However, be careful. It can be misinterpreted in different cultures and many experts will advise against using humor with people who have English as a second language. We disagree and believe that if you are sure that you will not be misunderstood, there is nothing more powerful than a giggle for bonding.

6 - Encourage people to ask questions:
Most people who do not understand a word or sentence will smile or nod. They hope that they have or will get the gist of the message. This can lead to serious mistakes. If you think they did not understand you, ask them to repeat what you said. Open the door to questions by making it comfortable and safe to ask questions.

7 - Body language:
Many experts discourage any use of body language because different cultures can interpret certain body signs in different ways. These experts believe that you can offend someone without even knowing it. We believe that you should use every means of communication available to you to express your thoughts. Sure, there are certain symbols and signs which have different meanings in different countries. The reality is that there are so few of these signs that the benefits of talking with your hands outweigh the remote possibility for offense.

8 - Use common sense:
Language is the best form of communication. Yet we sometimes offend our friends and loved ones through miscommunication and misunderstanding. If this can happen to two people who speak the same language, share the same culture and love each other, it is far more likely to occur when people do not share these common bonds Be aware of what you are saying, how it is being received, and what response you are getting.


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