From job contract to visa application
Gaining a job contract is only half of the recruitment process. You must also provide the necessary paperwork to guarantee your employment and suitability for working at a summer camp. For all staff this involves gaining references (usually 2), a police background check and a medical form. If you are applying from outside of the USA then a J1 visa is required.
Please note the following is a simple overview of the process to help you understand what will be expected of you. A fully comprehensive guide will be offered once a position is secured.
Step 1: Find a visa sponsor – your camp may suggest a preferred visa sponsor or you may wish to discuss your options with your mentor. Here is a full list of available J1 visa sponsors https://j1visa.state.gov/participants/how-to-apply/sponsor-search/
Step 2: Complete their Direct Placement application – similar to a job application this form will ask for personal details, previous work and education history, relevant skills and a personal statement. The application will most likely be online and you will be required to upload 2 references, a copy of your passport, criminal check, health form and program agreement.
Step 3: Conduct a visa suitability interview – the visa sponsor will assign a recruiter who will arrange to speak with you typically via Skype or similar face-to-face messenger service. The purpose of this interview is to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for a temporary working visa in the USA.
Step 4: Submit final application – once all documents have been uploaded and your interview completed, your visa application will be submitted for processing. This is the period of time when the visa sponsor reviews your paperwork and can take 5-14 days.
Step 5: Receive a DS2019 Certificate of Eligibility – this is a fancy name for a crucial piece of paper that confirms your documents have gained approval from the visa sponsor. You MUST keep this document safe for the duration of your trip and is expensive to replace should you need a new copy.
Step 6: Schedule an Embassy appointment – unless you live in Canada a face to face appointment at a US Embassy is an essential part of the process. You can find your nearest one here: http://usembassy.state.gov/ The procedure for booking an appointment may vary slightly dependent on location but a further online form known as the DS160 will be required regardless of where you attend.
Step 7: Final preparations – you will be required to leave your passport at the Embassy to allow them to screen your visa into it and it will then be returned to you via courier 3-5 days later. You may have already begun researching flights or even booked them if you saw an awesome deal, but if not then now is your time to book a plane ticket.
Step 8: Enjoy the build-up! Start chatting with staff on social media, research some post-camp travel options and work your way through that packing list. But don’t forget to revise for your exams in between if you have those to battle with first – the last thing you want to do is study for a resit whilst you are in America…