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Trainee Programme: What's the deal?

The Trainee Programme is designed for graduates and young professionals who wish to live and undertake paid training in their chosen field for up to 18 months in the USA.

This programme can help develop your skills in your professional field, give you access to valuable international contacts, knowledge about American business practices, improve your CV and most of all be a life changing experience.

During your free time and for 30 days after your internship you can travel around the USA at your leisure.

Who can apply for the Trainee Programme?

You must be:

  • Between 20 and 34 years old
  • A graduate from an accredited UK University with a degree related to your field of interest

A graduate with an unrelated degree plus 1 years experience in your field of interest

At least 5 years experience in your field.

  • If you have participated in a J-1 previously either through WorkPlayUSA or another organisation then you are eligible to repeat the programme. Please contact us for more information on this.

What kind of jobs are available?

The Training Programme is available in the following fields:

  • Accounting
  • Advertising
  • Arts
  • Business Administration
  • Finance
  • Food & Beverage / Restaurant Management
  • Hospitality
  • Management
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Tourism

Can I organize my own placement?

Absolutely! Not only does this put you in control, there is also a considerable discount for locating your own employer and applying on our ‘Self Placed' programme.

What are the fees?

The fee for the Self Placed Programme is £1190 for 12 months

Included in all our fees is:

  • the Self Placed jobs guide
  • the cost of all documentation processing including the DS-2019 visa form
  • assistance completing the requirement documents
  • assistance in sourcing accommodation
  • comprehensive health, accident and liability insurance
  • application, screening and pre-departure orientation
  • assistance in obtaining the Social Security Card
  • 24 hour support from US office staff
  • the SEVIS fee of $180

Can WorkPlayUSA find me a placement?

Yes we can find you a suitable position. The Pre Placed programme is for candidates who would like WorkPlayUSA to organise a position for them in their chosen field. We will use your qualifications to search for host companies for you.

The fee for the Trainee programme Pre Placed is £1995 (hospitality) / £2950 (Business)
In addition to the services listed for the Self Placed programme you will also receive:

  • CV formatting
  • Host Company Search
  • Salary negotiation
  • Interview Preparation
  • Trainee Programme Offer

What is the SEVIS fee?

SEVIS stands for ‘Student and Exchange Visitor Information System'.

It is a US Dept of Homeland Security tracking system for all participants on a J-1 visa.

Once you have entered the United States you must ‘validate' your SEVIS record via the ‘check in' system on our sponsors Aspire website.

Full details on SEVIS and ‘check in' on arrival will be provided once you are accepted on the programme.

Are there any other application costs I need to be aware of?

The only other fee you have to allow for is the $131 charged by the US Embassy when you book your interview appointment. Please have a credit or debit card to hand as well the DS 2019 form we provide you with.

Am I required to purchase WorkPlayUSA's flights and accommodation?

No. WorkPlayUSA can assist you with purchasing flights upon which a booking fee will be applied. We are also happy to provide you with a free list of reputable travel agents if you would like to do it yourself.

Some host companies may include accommodation with their job offer or at least offer you assistance, however many candidates choose to make their own arrangements.

WorkPlayUSA will provide a guide to sourcing accommodation for all candidates once you have signed up to the programme.

How do I apply and what does the application process entail?

The first step is to fill in the enquiry form on this site. We will then email you with all the relevant information and application documents as well as your personal login details for our web database. All candidates will be required to enter their details and upload the necessary application documents to our online database.

Once you have paid your deposit we will begin matching you with our employers or provide you with all the information you need to locate an employer yourself.

As soon as a suitable employer is found we will assist you to complete all the necessary documents you require to apply for your visa.

Please note it is VERY IMPORTANT that ALL fields are completed when you are filling in the forms and the database. It is also crucial that your host company's Tax ID is stated, along with a full physical address (P.O. Box addresses will not be accepted).

Once your application is complete and full payment has been received we will send your DS-2019. You will not be able to apply for your visa at the US Embassy without this document.

What is the DS-2019?

The DS-2019 is your certificate of eligibility for the J-1 visa. It serves as proof that a Department of State designated visa sponsor has supported your visa application.

When you visit the U.S Embassy you must submit the original DS-2019 form along with your other application materials.

How long does the programme last for?

The Trainee programme for hospitality is for any period from 1 month to 12 months and for business placements you can go for up to 18 months in total. If you initially sign up, for example, for 6 months, there is the option to extend the programme once you are in the States.

How much will I get paid?

The amount you will be paid is dependent on your experience. You will need to have sufficient funds to cover miscellaneous expenses until you receive your first stipend, we recommend at least $1500.

How many hours can I expect to work?

Most employers will expect you to work on average around 35 hours per week but this varies depending on your employer and your role.

Can I get a second job?

No, on the Trainee Programme you can only work for your host company. It is however possible to change your employer (a small fee may be charged).

How do I book my appointment at the US Embassy?

To book your appointment please call and arrange a convenient time with the operator.

You can find the number for the London Embassy here: Click here

Students from the Republic of Ireland need to visit the Embassy in Dublin: Click here

Students from Northern Ireland need to visit the Embassy in Belfast: Click here

You will be asked to pay a fee of $131 to book the appointment. Please have a credit or debit card to hand as well as the reference number printed on your DS 2019 form.

How long will I have to wait for my appointment?

The Embassy gets very busy in Spring as there are many students and professionals booked in to get their J-1 visa before summer. You may have to wait up to a month for your appointment. Please click here to see current wait times

What do I need to take for my interview?

Please make sure you have all the following documents with you when you attend your interview at the embassy:

  • A valid Passport in good condition
  • Your SEVIS Receipt
  • Your DS-2019 form
  • DS-160
    This is a document that has to be completed online direct on the US Embassy website. Please click this link for more details:
  • Evidence of returning to study (if applicable) or proof of completed study
  • Proof of funds. You should have somewhere between US$1500 and

US$2000 to cover expenses until you receive your first pay check.

After your interview the Embassy will retain your passport for a period which could be anything from 5 days up to 4 weeks. Please do not plan or book any foreign travel within this period.

As soon as your visa has been issued and your passport is returned you are free to start your journey!

What do I need to know before I fly out?

Before you leave for the USA, WorkPlayUSA will provide you with all the orientation information you need regarding tax, social security numbers, sourcing accommodation and your responsibilities whilst on the programme.

Please ensure that you update your flight details on the online database prior to departure so we have all the correct information for you.

How far in advance can I come before my job starts?

You are allowed to fly out up to 2 weeks before your job starts. We suggest you leave plenty of time to find somewhere to live if you haven't organised this before departure and we also suggest applying for your social security number as soon as you arrive as this can take a few weeks to come through.

What do I need to do once I arrive in the USA?

First of all you need to ‘check in' and validate your SEVIS status with Aspire. This needs to be done on arrival and every 30 days thereafter.


You then need to obtain your social security number. You can download the application form from

Please read all the instructions in your Trainee Programme handbook BEFORE you complete the form

You then need to head to your local social security office with:

  • DS-2019 Form (copy)
  • Passport with the J-1 Visa and I-94 card (white slip attached to

the passport by the Immigration officer)

  • Sponsor letter
  • If the passport is less than one year old you will need to bring with you an official government document (i.e., birth certificate, driver's license with photo) to serve as proof of age.

What is a social security number?

Your social security number is your personal ID for tax. You cannot work legally or be paid without one. This number is also needed to open a bank account or obtain a state driver's license.

Can I work whilst I wait for my social security number?

Yes – as long as you can prove that you have applied for it. If you have any problems liaising with your employer on this then contact WorkPlayUSA for assistance.

What if I lose my social security number?

If you lose it you need to report back to your local social security office NOT WorkPlayUSA. DO NOT under any circumstances apply for another social security number.

How much money will I need?

You should bring enough money to pay for food and housing for your first month in the USA, we recommend between $1500 - $2000.

If you have already secured a job you will need on arrival, to show the Immigration officer your completed training plan plus be able to prove you have the amount of dollars above available to you.

Proof can be in the form of cash, bank statements (credit or debit) or travellers cheques. Some candidates have even been asked to login to their bank account in front of immigration officers to prove they have sufficient funds. Please be aware of all these lines of questioning. Travellers cheques and cash are the only guaranteed proof of funds.

What medical insurance do you provide, can't I just use my existing insurance?

The Department of State insist that all students must be insured in line with American legislation and that it is the responsibility of the sponsor company (i.e ASPIRE) to ensure this is followed out. To ensure every student is covered against every eventuality we have implemented a blanket coverage scheme.

To find out more about your insurance coverage click here:

Who can I contact in case of an emergency?

The freephone emergency number in the USA is 911 and should be used in all emergency situations as you would use 999 in the UK. For any other problems please contact your ASPIRE local area representative.

What do I do if I am having problems with my employer or I am unhappy in my job?

Our team are here to help you with any difficulties you may have and we are more than happy to speak to your employer on your behalf. If for whatever reason you decide to leave your placement it is your responsibility to secure another unless we decide that there has been an oversight in the initial placement.

Can I extend my stay in the United States?

The maximum duration of the Trainee Programme is 12 months for hospitality and 18 months for business.

Can I travel to other countries during my programme?

Travel outside of the USA is possible with approval from yoru employer and our offices. More information can be provided upon request.

How long after the expiration of my visa must I leave the USA?

You have a 30 day grace period once your work placement has ended to spend as a tourist before returning home.

Can I come back again?

Candidates can return on a J1 visa as long as they still fulfill the requirements and they have completed 2 years outside the United States since their last J1.

How good does my English have to be?

You must be able to speak, read and understand conversational English at an advanced level

WorkPlayUSA will not get involved with booking your flight but we do have a list of reputable travel agents who we are happy to recommend.(click)

What if I have already completed a J1 programme?

If you have participated in a J-1 previously either through WorkPlayUSA or another organisation you may still be eligible to repeat the programme. Please contact us for more information on this.

Can I apply if I am not a student?

Yes. If you have 5 year's related work experience in your field then you can apply for the Trainee programme.

WorkPlayUSA Limited administers its range of programmes on behalf of US Sponsor, ASSE International