The Summer Work Travel (SWT) Program

Background:

The Summer Work Travel (SWT) program provides foreign college or university students with an opportunity to live and work in the United States during their summer vacation. Exposure to the people and way of life in the United States allows SWT participants to SWT participants to experience U.S. culture firsthand. SWT participants also serve as ambassadors of their home country, helping to educate the American people about other cultures and customs.

Summer Work Travel participants typically work in non-skilled service positions, often in the hospitality and entertainment industries such as resorts, hotels, restaurants, and amusement parks. The goal of the Program is to experience American culture and build people-to-people ties between the United States and other countries.

Program requirements:

Are you interested in applying for the Summer Work Travel Program?

To be eligible for the program, SWT applicants must:

  • Be sufficiently proficient in English;
  • Be post-secondary school students enrolled in and actively pursuing a degree or other full-time course of study at an accredited classroom-based, post-secondary academic institution outside the United States;
  • Have successfully completed at least one semester of post-secondary academic study;
  • Be pre-placed in a job prior to entry through a designated sponsor;
  • Final year students may apply to participate during academic break immediately following their graduation provided they apply for and are issued a J1 visa before their final year end.

Steps to Apply for the Summer Work Travel Program:

  1. Do your research and determine which program is right for you.
  2. Contact a designated sponsor directly to take part in one of its exchange programs.
  3. The program sponsor will issue you a Form DS-2019.
  4. Pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee. Print a copy of the payment receipt.
  5. Fill out the DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application online and pay the application fee. Print your confirmation page and payment receipt, you’ll need them at the visa interview.
  6. Schedule your visa interview with your U.S. embassy or consulate – you may be eligible to apply without an interview if you previously held a J visa in the past 48 months.
  7. On interview day, bring your Form DS-2019, Form DS-160 confirmation page, SEVIS fee payment receipt, passport, photo, and appointment confirmation page.
  8. At the end of your interview, the consular officer will let you know if your visa is approved or denied. If approved, you will be told when your visa should arrive.
  9. If you qualified to apply without an interview, follow all instructions. You will be told when your visa should arrive.
  10. Keep your DS-2019 form (signed by the Consular Officer) to carry with your passport when you enter the United States and present to the Immigration Official at the airport.

FAQ:

  • How long does it take to obtain a J-1 Visa for my Summer Work Travel program?

We encourage you to apply as soon as you receive your DS-2019 from, it can be up to a year in advance! The current wait for a J-1 visa appointment at U.S. Embassy Prague is approximately 15 days. Make sure to bring your SEVIS payment confirmation page to the interview.

  • How do I make an appointment for the visa interview?

Click here to find information about U.S. nonimmigrant visas. You can also learn how to pay the required visa application fee and book an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Prague.

  • Am I eligible to apply for Summer Work Travel J-1 without an interview?

Have you had a J visa before? Applicants renewing their J visa not more than 48 months after the expiration of the prior J visa may be eligible to have their interview waived.  Use our Visa Navigator to find out if you qualify.

  • Can I go to the U.S. as soon as I get my visa?

Exchange visitors beginning new programs may enter the United States up to 30 days before their program start date. You will find program start and end dates on DS-2019.

  • May I stay longer after the program ends?

You may stay up to 30 days after the program finish date (the dates are stated on your DS-2019).  You are not permitted to work during these 30 days, and if you leave the United States during this grace period you will not be permitted to re-enter the United States on your J-1 visa because you will no longer be in J status.  Please keep in mind that it is your responsibility to return home in time for the start of your scheduled classes, no matter what your program end date is.

  • I live in Czech Republic, but I have a passport of different country. Can I still apply at the U.S. Embassy in Prague?

If you are a resident of Czech Republic, you may apply for J-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy in Prague or may be eligible for an Interview Waiver. Use the Visa Navigator to find out if you qualify for the interview waiver.

  • I am a final year student at my university, am I eligible to participate in the Summer Work Travel Program?

Yes, final year students are eligible to take part in this program during the school’s major academic break immediately following their graduation if they apply to participate in the program before graduation.

  • If I have failed an exam, am I still eligible for the visa?

You are still eligible to apply for the visa. Each applicant is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. One of the key requirements for the program is demonstrating that you a serious student with no intention of abandoning your studies.

If you have other questions about Summer Work Travel program, visit J1visa.state.gov or email jvisas@state.gov.

If you have questions about visa process at U.S. Embassy Prague, use the navigator to find the information you need or ask us for assistance.

Know Your Rights

All program participants must read and understand the Wilberforce Act pamphlet (PDF 3MB) which explains the rights they have while in the United States. During the visa interview the Consular Officer will verify that applicants know and understand their rights under the Wilberforce Act.