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Work and Travel FAQs

Click a question below to view the answer:

What is CENET?
How many months can I participate?
Must I have an agent to apply for the program?
How do I apply?
What documents do I need in order to apply?
What is a job offer?
What should I do if I don't have an agent, or can't find mine in the applications agency list?
What are your fees?
Can I travel outside the U.S while in the program?
Can I bring my family (J-2's)?
What if my visa expires before my DS-2019?
What is the "grace" period?
Can I participate in more than one Summer Work Travel program?
When should I contact CENET?
How do I get a Social Security Card?
Can I participate without a Social Security Card/Number?
What does the comprehensive health insurance cover?
How do I activate my health insurance coverage?
What taxes do I have to pay?
Do I have to pay social security tax?
What should I do if I lose my DS-2019, passport, or Social Security card?
Am I required to stay in contact with CENET throughout my program?
How do I complete my SEVIS activation upon arrival in the United States?
Can I change host companies whenever I want?
Can I have a second job?



What is CENET?
Cultural Exchange Network (CENET) is a non-profit organization dedicated to cultural and international exchange.

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How many months can I participate?
You can participate up to 4 months, depending on the program dates in your country and your university's summer break dates.

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Must I have an agent to apply for the program?
Yes. All Summer Work Travel participants must apply through a CENET-representative agency.

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How do I apply?
Your CENET-representative agency will assist you with the online application process.  As part of this process, you will complete a CENET video interview and orientation conference via Skype. 


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What documents do I need in order to apply?
To apply you need the following documents:

  • Application Form
  • Copy of your passport biography page (the page with your picture on it)
  • School Certificate
  • Job offer
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Fee disclosure form
  • Fees

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What is a job offer?
Your host company will provide a signed job offer, which provides details (e.g., location, wage) of the position you are being offered.  Your signature indicates your agreement to the terms on the document. 

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What should I do if I don't have an agent, or can't find mine in the application's agency list?
Please contact CENET for advice.

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What are your fees?
You can find CENET's fee schedule here.

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Can I travel outside the U.S. while in the program?
Since Summer Work Travel positions are short and you are filling a position in the busy season for your host company, international travel is not recommended.  However, if you will travel outside the U.S. during your program, you need to submit the following materials to CENET at least 2-3 weeks prior to your departure:

  • Your ORIGINAL DS-2019
  • A letter from your host company approving your vacation
  • The dates you will be traveling outside the U.S.
  • A self-addressed, pre-paid UPS or FedEx envelope (CENET will return your DS-2019 with travel validation in this envelope)

A member of CENET will travel validate your DS-2019 which will allow you to travel outside the U.S. and re-enter upon your return.

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Can I bring my family (J-2's)?
Please contact CENET to inquire.

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What if my visa expires before my DS-2019?
Since the DS-2019 allows you to stay in the U.S., you are still a legal, valid participant after your visa expires (until the end date on your DS-2019). However, you cannot leave the U.S. and then return after your visa expires.


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What is the "grace" period?
If there is no earlier date indicated on your I-94, you are allowed a 30-day "grace period" after the end date for the purposes of travel and departure. You can neither work during this period nor travel outside the U.S. and return.

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Can I participate in more than one Summer Work Travel program ?
Yes.  You may participate in multiple Summer Work Travel programs as long as you meet the program eligibility requirements.

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When should I contact CENET?
You should contact CENET when you:

  • Arrive in the U.S.
  • Leave the U.S. for any reason.
  • Have problems at your host company.
  • Change your postal address.
  • Desire a second job.
  • Have questions regarding your health insurance.
  • Have questions regarding your program.
  • Have any issues related to your program, housing, or health of which CENET should be aware and/or for which you need assistance.

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How do I get a Social Security Card?
Once you arrive in the U.S., you need to notify CENET of your arrival. CENET will notify SEVIS and your health insurance provider to activate your accounts. You then need to wait up to 7-10 business days before applying for a Social Security card. You may be employed during this time. After 7-10 business days you may go to your local Social Security Administration office and apply for your Social Security card. To find your local Social Security office or for more information on Social Security, please visit: www.ssa.gov.

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Can I work without a Social Security Card/Number?
You may work and receive pay while you are awaiting the arrival of your Social Security card in the postal mail.  You should provide your host company with a copy of your application receipt after visiting the Social Security Administration. For more information, click here.

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What does the comprehensive health insurance cover?
The authorized health insurance that you will carry includes coverage for medical care and hospitalization as well as medical evacuation (your return home in case of serious illness or accident). Routine physicals, most dental work, and most eye care are not covered, so be sure that you have attended to these concerns before leaving home. Some physicians may require you to pay for treatment at the time of service and file your own insurance claim with the insurance company. Note: All types of insurance have a deductible. This is an amount you have to pay before the insurance will pay anything. See the brochure provided with your DS-2019 for additional information.

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How do I activate my health insurance coverage?
You must notify CENET of your arrival into the U.S. in order to activate your health insurance. Coverage is for the period of time listed on your DS-2019. If you want coverage during the optional grace period, you may arrange for an additional month of coverage at your own expense.

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What taxes do I have to pay?
Most cities and states levy a sales tax on all purchases. Sales tax rates vary, but you can usually expect to pay about 7-8% more for any item than what the price tag indicates. In addition, EVERY PERSON who receives a paycheck in the U.S. is subject to federal income tax. In many states, there is a state income tax, too. In January, your employer will send you a W2 form showing your earnings during the previous year. By April 15, you must file an income tax form. If you have already returned to your home country, you can get this form and the relevant instructions from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country, or you can print them from the Internal Revenue Service website. You can search online for companies who offer tax return preparation service for a fee if you would like assistance.

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Do I have to pay social security tax?
A social security tax (called FICA) is automatically withheld from the paychecks of all U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Because you are in non-immigrant status, social security tax should NOT be withheld from your paycheck. Some U.S. companies are not aware of this regulation. If you have problems, ask your host company to contact CENET or direct them to Chapter 8 of IRS Publication 519 " U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens" for proof of these exemptions.

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What should I do if I lose my DS-2019, passport, or Social Security card?
If you lose your DS-2019, contact CENET right away; it can be replaced for a fee. If you lose your Social Security card, you will need to report the loss to the Social Security Administration. To replace your passport, you need to  immediately contact the nearest Consulate for your home country.

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Am I required to stay in contact with CENET throughout my program?
Yes. You are required check your email at least weekly and to respond to all CENET messages in a timely fashion.  CENET will send you periodic emails for the purposes of monitoring your program as well as to share program information and updates.  You should also contact CENET any time to report any issues, concerns, and questions, as well as to share your positive experiences in the U.S.

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How do I complete my SEVIS activation upon arrival in the United States?
Within 72 hours of your arrival in the United States, login and click "SEVIS Activation."  Notify CENET of your arrival and your U.S. housing address.  CENET will then activate your SEVIS record.

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Can I change host companies whenever I want?
You are obligated to remain at the host company listed on your DS-2019.  Transfers are rare and only approved due to serious reasons.  You may not leave your host company without CENET's authorization.  Failure to remain at your host company can result in termination of your program.

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Can I have a second job?
You may accept a second job.  However, it must not conflict with your primary position and it must be approved by CENET prior to beginning.

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338 Broadway St., Suite 620         Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701 USA
Tel: 1-866-512-3638 (free within the U.S.)     Tel: 1-573-335-7111 (outside the U.S.)     Fax: 1-573-335-7110

Email: cenet@cenet.org

Regional Offices:  Branson, Missouri; and Nashville, Tennessee

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