Click here for some advice from former participants about traveling to the U.S. and getting through your first few weeks!

Click here for some advice from former participants about traveling to the U.S. and getting through your first few weeks!

Pre-Arrival Checklist

1. Attend Your Pre-Arrival Orientation

Your Home Country Agent is required to give you a Pre-Arrival Orientation before you travel to the U.S., and you are required to attend.  In this orientation you will meet face-to-face with your Home Country Agent and they will provide you with materials and information on the following:

  • Your sponsor's name, contact person, address, email and phone number, including a 24 hour emergency phone line and the Department of State's toll-free help line;
  • What to expect as you travel to the United States, including the steps for passing through U.S. Customs & Immigration.
  • All the information on your job, including employer name and address, how long your job is, job duties, number of work hours, wages and deductions from wages, including those taken for housing and transportation),
  • The purpose and cultural goals of Summer Work/Travel, and advice for how to experience U.S. culture;
  • The home-country physical presence requirement;
  • An list of all fees that you will pay to your Home Country Agent, including what each fee is for;
  • Description and amount of typical costs (living expenses, transportation expenses) while in the United States (visit this website to get an idea for yourself);
  • Health care and insurance description, costs, and requirements for exchange visitors, and the medical facilities in your U.S. community;
  • Other information you may need as a worker in the U.S., such as how to apply for Social Security; how to open a bank account; employee rights and laws, workman's compensation; and how to remain in lawful non-immigrant status.
  • Life and customs in the United States;
  • Local community resources (e.g., public transportation, medical centers, schools, libraries, recreation centers, and banks), to the fullest extent possible;
  • Information about housing and transportation to and from work;
  • How to avoid termination (complete SEVIS Step 1 & 2), report a change in your housing address, email address or phone number within 1 week, do not start work at a new or 2nd job without permission from ERDT, respond to all emails from ERDT within one week).
  • The Office of Designation's address, telephone number, facsimile number, Web site and email address;
  • A copy of the Department of State's (1) Summer Work Travel Participant Letter, (2) Summer Work Travel Program Brochure and (3) Wilberforce Pamphlet on the Rights and Protections for Temporary Workers;

At or before your Pre-Arrival Orientation, you will receive a Participant Handbook from your Home Country Agent.  Bring it to your Pre-Arrival Orientation.  Your handbook has several worksheets that ERDT expects you to fill out, to ensure that you are prepared for your trip to the U.S.  You will use your documentation and the information that you receive in your Pre-Arrival Orientation to fill out the worksheet.

2. One month before arrival

We hope that you do not use illegal drugs, but if you do, you should definitely stop using them at this time.  Most U.S. employers do drug tests upon arrival, which will show whether you have used drugs in the past month.  If you are fired due to a failed drug test, ERDT may have to end your program early if we are unable to find you a new job that does not test for drug use.

Remember that if you are arrested for using drugs while in the U.S., you will need to return home immediately.

3. Within the month before arrival

  1. Contact your employer to confirm your arrival date.   If you do not receive an email reply, you should phone your employer.  Make sure they know exactly when you will arrive.
  2. Have an exact plan for how you will get from your arrival airport to your job.  You may need to arrange your own airport transportation and temporary housing, or your employer may help you.
  3. Review your job offer and housing plan.  Is anything unclear?  If so, ask your home country agent.
  4. Your agent has promised ERDT that they will provide you with a Pre-Arrival Orientation, where you meet with your agent in-person to discuss aspects of the program.  This should happen between your visa interview date and your departure to the U.S.  If you have not received a Pre-Arrival Orientation, ask your agent or contact ERDT.
  5. Practice speaking English as much as you can.  When you arrive in the U.S., you will suddenly need your English 100% of the time. If you are in practice using English, you will experience far fewer problems upon arrival.
  6. Research your town and employer on Google so that you are familiar with your surroundings.
  7. Ensure that the email address you listed on your program application is the same that you will use in the U.S.  If it is not, inform ERDT.
  8. Get accustomed to how strenuous your job will be.  Do activities that have you on your feet for several hours at a time.  Clean your house, and clean your neighbor's house!  Wash your hands a lot.  Practice being extra-polite - smile at strangers on the street, say "please" and "thank you," speak clearly and do not mumble.  People in your home country may think you are crazy, but you will fit in really well when you get to the U.S.
  9. Determine whether you will bring a cell phone, laptop and/or credit card to the U.S.

4. One week before arrival

  1. Try to adjust your sleeping schedule to your new time zone in the U.S.
  2. Contact your employer once more to remind them of your exact arrival time;
  3. Make sure you have all tickets and reservations made for your arrival in the U.S., including the bus and accommodation your first night in your town.
  4. Review the most common mistakes students make in their first week:
  • Arriving in the U.S. without all tickets & reservations to get you from the airport to your workplace;
  • Losing documents;
  • Forgetting to validate SEVIS within 24 hours of arrival;
  • Not reporting directly to the employer and working there for at least 3 weeks;
  • Forgetting to update SEVIS within 1 week of arrival;

5. Don't forget these 10 things!

  1. Enough money!  During the first 2 weeks on the program, you will spend the most money, and you will earn the least money.  The more money you can bring with you, the less stressed you will be during this time.
  2. All information you need to get from the airport to your job - phone numbers, addresses, reservations, tickets, etc;
  3. Your insurance card;
  4. A copy of your job offer and housing plan;
  5. Any clothing, shoes or equipment that your employer requires;
  6. Clothing appropriate to the weather (Remember that May and June can still be quite cold!)
  7. Medications, marked clearly;
  8. Sunscreen, if you will be working outside;
  9. A map of the area where you are going, with your job, your housing and a library where you can use internet marked.  Need help getting this?  Contact ERDT.
  10. Your ERDT Participant Handbook, with all info completed by you.  Need help getting this?  Contact ERDT.