Programs & Services > Summer Work & Travel > USA > For Participants who are Studying in HK & Macau
+ More information...


About Job | About Travel | About Form and Visa | About Housing | About Tax | General Questions

About JobDo I have to stay at one job? What if I don't like my job after I've started working?
By signing the Employment Contract, it means you agree to work for that employer. If you cannot work for that employer for any reasons, you must contact us and your sponsor for assistance. If you do not show up at work without notifying BOTH Intrinsic and your sponsor in advance, you will be dismissed from the Program and have to return home immediately. Your refundable administration fee and certificate of completion will be forfeited. Make sure you contact us and your sponsor if you encounter any difficulties at work. We will work with you and your employer to resolve your doubts. However, if, for any reason, a change of employer becomes necessary, you must contact your sponsor to obtain the approval before changing a job.

Can I be placed at the same employer as my friend?
Yes. Just choose the same employer, but it is not guaranteed since the final decision is made by the employer.

Can I find a second job?
Yes, in addition to the first job, you might be able to work as a part-time employee for another employer. By doing so, you will have to inform your sponsor first. Always make sure your second job will not affect the working schedule of your first job.
About Travel

When will I leave Hong Kong to the U.S.?
Most of the WATUSA participants will leave Hong Kong to the U.S. from late May to early June. Your employer will let you know the exact work dates once you’re hired. The minimum work duration is 2.5 months and usually employers would expect students staying at work for 3 months.

Can I travel around in the U.S. upon arrival before my job starts?
Students should report to employer upon arrival. You may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program start date shown on your DS-2019. We are not responsible for any denied entrance into the U.S. under any circumstances. Generally, you should depart from Hong Kong within five days before the work start date.

Can I extend my stay in USA?
No extension is allowed for the J-1 Work/Travel Program including the visa. By signing your copy of the Terms and Conditions of the Program, you agree to return home within 30 days after the expiration date of your US visa. Failure to return home by that time will result in out of Program status, and you will be subject to arrest and deportation. Do not jeopardize your future by breaking the law! Return home at the end of your Program!

Can I travel before I return to Hong Kong?
Yes. You are permitted to travel within the U.S. after your work Program has ended (the end date on your DS-2019 form). Though your J-1 Work/Travel visa expires at the end of your employment, in theory you are still permitted to stay in the country for traveling purpose for up to 30 days. This is known as the “grace period.” However, you will no longer be covered by Program insurance at that time. Also, you are required to return to Hong Kong before the start of the new academic year set by your university.
The other thing you must pay special attention is, you are STRICTLY PROHIBITED from traveling outside the U.S during the grace period. If you leave the U.S. after the end date on your DS-2019 form, you will not be permitted to re-enter the U.S. with the expired J-1 visa. This rule applies even for airport layovers. So make sure your international air travel plans do not include stops in the U.S. after you have departed the country.

Can I travel to other countries during my program?
You can travel outside USA only if you can fullfill all three of the follwoing condition,

  1. Have a multiple-entry visa
  2. In good standing with the Program and
  3. Able to obtain a visa for the country you wish to visit

However, before you start planning your trip, you will need to send your DS-2019 form, a copy of your J-1 visa, a self addressed, prepaid and  trackable envelope (e.g.. Fed Ex), with a note stating your travel dates, U.S. mailing address & phone number to your sponsor at least TWO WEEKS PRIOR to your trip. The responsible officer will sign the back of your DS-2019 and attach a “Letter of Good Standing” so that you can re-enter the country at the end of your trip. You cannot re-enter USA with the J-1 visa after your Program end date listed in section 3 on your DS-2019 form. You will not be able to re-enter the U.S. after your Program has ended. NEVER spend more than 30 days outside the U.S. during your work period. If you do this, you may have trouble re-entering the country, your Program may be terminated, or you may be deported.

About Form and VisaWhat is a DS-2019 form?
The DS-2019 form is one of the documents required for the J-1 Work/Travel Visa application. Without this form, you cannot apply for a J-1 Visa. And, in order to obtain this form, one must be sponsored by an organization designated by U.S. Department of State.

What is a J-1 Work/Travel Visa?
A J-1 Work/Travel Visa allows your entry to the U.S. as a participant of Summer Work and Travel Program to work for up to 4 months.

Am I guaranteed a J-1 Work/Travel Visa?
No. In addition to the visa application fee, complete forms and various required documents, you will be required to attend an interview at U.S. Consulate and discuss the purpose of your visit which will determine the result of your visa application.

What happens if my visa application is rejected?
In the case of a visa denial, a HKD4,500 will be charged as placement cost and the rest of your Program Fee and and part of administration fee (HKD1,500) that you have paid will be refunded. In order to collect the refund, you will need to return the original DS-2019 form, along with proof from U.S. Consulate showing your visa application is rejected.

What is SEVIS?
SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) has been set up by the U.S. government in an effort to keep track of all J-1 participants' whereabouts. Therefore, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you register with SEVIS no later than 10 days after the start date of your DS 2019 form. If you do not register for SEVIS, you are in danger of losing your visa sponsorship and being terminated from the program!
About Housing
How do I find housing?
You are responsible for your accommodation while in USA. While some employers may provide housing for employees, you should always get prepared to arrange your own accommodation. Make sure you have a safe place to stay in the U.S. before departure. If you cannot manage to reserve housing for the entire summer, you should arrange short-term housing for the first week. Though it is your responsibility to make your housing arrangement, your sponsor and employer will try their best to assist you if necessary. Once you have secured a place to stay in USA, you must notify us of where you will be staying. You must do this before you leave home.

What if I don't like my housing?
In most cases, you are asked to sign a lease or housing agreement with the landlord for protecting both parties' interests. Before you decide to move to another housing, please make sure you can take care of any possible fallout. Check out the terms and conditions of the housing lease you signed. For example, you may have to give up the housing deposit you’ve paid. In fact, to avoid such kind of difficult situation, you are advised to carefully consider your housing options before making any commitment. Also, if you move to a new place, you need to notify us and your sponsor of your latest address as soon as possible.
About Tax

Should I pay tax in the U.S.?
Yes! In the U.S., income taxes are imposed by the federal, state and local governments. Your employer generally withholds income tax from your salary and pays it directly to the government. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of your salary will be charged for federal income tax. According to local laws, states and cities may charge approximately 5 to 8 percent for extra income tax, which will also be withheld from your paycheck, if applicable. Ask your employer about the local tax situation.
You MUST pay U.S. income tax. Failure to pay any taxes you owe could cause problems for your U.S. visa application in the future. Please make sure that these taxes are being withheld from your paycheck. You may be able to claim back a portion of income taxes as a refund at the end of the year. To get your tax refund, you must go through a process called ‘tax filing’ after you have completed the program.

When should I file for the tax return?
The U.S. tax year begins on January 1 and ends on December 31. At the end of the tax year, which is around the end of February, you will receive the W-2 form. The W-2 form is an important document for tax filing which details your total wages and the amount of each tax that was withheld. If you do not receive your W-2 form by the end of March, you should contact your employer directly and request replacements. To file a tax return, you must complete separate forms for federal taxes and state/local taxes. Therefore, you are required to file your U.S. tax returns by April 15.

How am I supposed to do that?
For federal tax filing, forms can be found on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website: Unlike Hong Kong, United States income tax laws are considered to be complicated, so most people and corporations do seek outside assistance with taxes. You may also contact some tax return agents who will help you file your taxes with a processing fee. Information of these agents will be given upon your return from the program.

General Questions

How much money should I bring?
You should bring enough money to settle the initial expenses early in your program. This is very important because it may take you 2 to 3 weeks before you receive your first pay check. You will have to pay for the food, first month’s rent, security deposit for housing, transportation to workplace, uniform for your job, etc. As a general rule, you should think about how much money you will need before the first pay-check arrives and we suggest you to bring around USD1,000 or more when you arrive.

What does my insurance cover?
The United States Information Agency requires that all visitors be insured for illness and emergencies. The medical insurance provided to you by your sponsor is specifically designed to cover all of the above requirements. Health insurance in the U.S. is complicated. Visiting your sponsor’s website to understand the coverage and exclusions of your insurance can prevent you paying a lot of money when you need medical attention in the U.S. To cover non-medical aspects, lost baggage for example, you are strongly advised to purchase a separate personal insurance for your stay in USA.

What if I decide to withdraw the program? Can I get a refund?
For the program policy, please refer to Program Confirmation Form (PCF).

What should I do if I need help in USA?
There’s a 24-hour emergency support line for Program participants. Emergencies are defined as the following:
  • Death or medical emergency
  • If you are a victim of a serious crime
  • If you have been arrested
  • Urgent Counseling

For other concerns, you may contact your sponsor during office hours. Examples of problems that they can help you with are:

  • Loss of DS-2019 and/or I-94 form
  • Loss of passport - contact your home country's consulate
  • Tenant/Landlord concerns
  • Basic legal information and advice for procedures and contacts
  • Victim of theft or a non-violent crime
  • Employee/Employer concerns
  • Social Security and tax problems
  • Forwarding your Social Security card
  • General information about jobs and housing

Back to Top