Couldn't I just go find a summer job in the US without SWAP?

This program must be purchased through an official US government nominated sponsor company. In Canada, sponsors have partnered with SWAP Working Holidays to offer the USA programs (Internship, Professional Career Training, Summer) on their behalf.

Can I apply without a job?

Participants must apply with a job already lined up. This is a change from previous years of the program and is a result of US Department of State regulations.

What kind of (seasonal summer) jobs can I work at in the US? What does "seasonal" mean?

The US Department of State is very specific with the type of job that they will allow a summer J-1 student to have. You are only allowed to work at a job that is considered both temporary and seasonal - it's a job where the employer has to hire summer staff to help with their busy season. Some examples of seasonal jobs would be working at the front desk of a busy summer resort, working as a cashier at an amusement park, or working as a lifeguard. These positions are only offered in the summer and meet the seasonal need of your employer. That is to say the job only exists throughout the summer months due to an employer's seasonal need to hire additional staff.


Most of the eligible Summer USA participants work in hospitality or tourism since these are the industries that most often offer seasonal employment. Some examples of seasonal work types are jobs found in:

  • Hospitality.
  • Hotels and resorts.
  • Amusement parks.
  • Oceans and beaches (e.g. lifeguard).
  • Parks and camp grounds.

Just because a job has the word "summer" in its title doesn't mean it will necessarily qualify for the Summer USA program. For instance, a summer analyst position at an investment banking firm would probably not meet the standards for "seasonal" according to the Department of State. That position would, however, qualify under the Internship USA program.


If your job does not fit the Summer J-1 category type, don't worry, there are two other programs (Internship USA and Professional Career Training USA) that may suit your job opportunity. Please see our comparison chart for a quick reference.

What kinds of jobs can't I do in the US?
  • Any job that is unpaid or is largely commission based (which would not guarantee a minimum wage).
  • Sales jobs that require you to invest your own money in supplies or inventory.
  • Domestic help positions (e.g. Au pair, servant, gardener, or chauffeur).
  • Jobs providing medical care and services, or involving patient contact, hands-on therapy, counselling, treatment, veterinary work involving hands-on care, or diagnoses on medical, psychiatric or psychological patients.
  • Teaching, teaching assistant, or coach.
  • Summer camp counsellor or camp staff.
  • Jobs through staffing / employment agencies.
  • Operators of pedicabs, rolling chairs, other passanger-carrying vehicles for hire, and / or vehicles requiring a commercial driver's licence.
  • Ship or aircraft crew members, or pilots (except as crew members on vessels that travel only within domestic US waters).
Can I work anywhere in the US?

Where you work the USA is entirely up to you!

What is a J-1 visa and why do I need it?

A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States Department of State to exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange. J-1 visas have various classes and all J-1 visas must be issued by a sponsor organization in the US that is responsible for not only issuing the visa documentation, but they are also responsible for ensuring your safety, and compliance with all program regulations. For this program, you will get a Summer Work and Travel J-1 visa.


What is a Sponsor?

Your official sponsor in the US is our partner organization who issues your documentation. They are the ones who interview your employer and make sure your summer experience follows the guidelines set by the US Department of State. The Sponsor will be your primary contact once you are in the US and they will require regular contact with you to ensure that you are having the most beneficial US summer experience possible.


Your employer does not have to sponsor you.

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor Information System) is a US government system to track foreign visitors in the US. The fee to register for SEVIS is included in your SWAP Summer USA program price and we give you instructions on how to start the SEVIS tracking in your GO SWAP Kit. Once in the US, you must register your US address within 20 days of your training start date. If you do not comply with the requirements of SEVIS at any point during your stay, your visa will be automatically terminated. All the important information will be given to you in your GO SWAP Kit.

What are support funds?

Support funds are the money that the US government requires you to have that proves you can support yourself throughout your stay in the US.


You will need to have $1500 USD in your own funds at the time of application.

How much is SWAP's Summer USA program?

The Summer USA program is only $990 CAD for any period up to 4 months. That's less than $248/month while your paycheques will be in higher value American dollars! The Summer USA program also includes everything listed here, including travel insurance covering your entire stay.


When should I book my travel to the US?

Please confirm or book your travel arrangements only when we know that your application has been approved. Unforeseen delays in visa processing are always possible. If you are planning to enter the US on a one-way ticket, immigration officials may want to see proof that you have the funds to return to Canada.

Can I commute between Canada and the US for work?

No*. The purpose of the Summer Work and Travel J-1 visa is to experience American culture by living and working in the United States. Commuting is not permitted and contravenes US immigration regulations.


* Short trips home to Canada are permitted. If you are going to be out of the country for longer than 5 days, you must contact the Sponsor for approval.

I have worked in the US before on this program. Can I do this again?

Yes, you may go on the Summer USA program again as long as you can meet the current eligibility requirements.

Can I travel outside of Canada while my Summer USA application is being processed?

Unlike other SWAP programs where original passport is needed to process your visa, the Summer USA program only requires a copy of your passport. This means you are free to travel while your application is being processed.


In your best interest, please leave us a phone number or e-mail address where you can be reached in case you are required to submit documents or we have questions for you during processing.


Your GO SWAP Kit, which includes your important visa documentation, can only be sent to a Canadian address.


You must enter the US from Canada to activate your visa.

Can my visa be mailed to me in the US?

Sorry, this is not permitted as you will need to cross a US / Canada border with the proper authorization provided by SWAP Working Holidays in order to activate your J-1 status so you can legally work in the US. Having your work documentation mailed to you in the US is illegal, so your GO SWAP Kit can only be mailed to a Canadian address.

Can I begin work before my permit is issued?

You are not legally permitted to work in the USA until you have received your proper documentation and you have been issued the correct forms at the border entry.

When will my visa start?

You will choose your visa start date (i.e. the date you intend to start working) and you may enter the country up to 5 days prior to it.

What's included when you GO with SWAP
  • Your own SWAP representative who will keep in contact to go over the program specifics with you, determine the job's suitability to the Summer USA program requirements, walk you through the application process, and be there to answer any questions you may have leading up to your departure.
  • Personalized agent assistance in reviewing the necessary application forms, ensuring its completed correctly before submission to the US government.
  • We take care of the processing and issuance of the summer J-1 visa document.
  • Travel insurance that will cover you for your entire time in the US (government mandated requirement).
  • The GO SWAP Kit, which includes: Your summer J-1 visa document, SEVIS registration and receipt, access to an online participant handbook that has important information on SEVIS (and what it means for you), applying for Social Security, taxes, and the various visa rules and regulations that will apply to you. Our expert materials that have Canadian-specific instructions to ensure that you understand what you need to do and what is expected of you as a J-1 visa holder.
  • Online orientation prior to your departure.
  • Our staff in the US will monitor your summer job on an ongoing basis to ensure that everything is going well with your employer.
  • Support from local US staff for the duration of your trip, including access to a toll-free, 24/7 emergency number.
Français