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J-1 visa programs


You must do 2 things when you arrive in the US: 1) Apply for your Social Security card and 2) Register on SEVIS.

Social Security Number Card:

All participants working in the United States need to apply for a Social Security number (SSN) by visiting their local Social Security office. If you already have a U.S. Social Security Number, you don’t need to reapply for one, as the number is valid for life.

You’ll get a receipt and a temporary number the day you submit your application. However, you might not receive the actual card for a few months. Regardless, your employer can legally pay you with the receipt and doesn’t have to wait for the physical card.

Please be aware the the social security number card does not grant you health benefits in the U.S. CIEE insurance fully covers you in case of illness or accident.

To avoid delays in the application process, we advise that you follow these directions:

1. Register your US address with SEVIS within 20 days of arrival. (See below)

2. Wait 10-12 days after you have arrived in the United States before applying for a Social Security Card. Remember, you must have already registered with SEVIS within this time period. You must also wait 48 hours after registering with SEVIS before you can apply for your SSN.

3. Apply for your SSN. To do this you must take your ‘Dear Social Security Officer’ letter and two copies of each of the following documents to the local Social Security office:

– Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Visa Status, DS-2019 form,
– I-94 card
– J-1 visa
– front page of your passport

At the Social Security office you will be provided with a Social Security Application form, which you must complete. Be sure to enter a valid US mailing address that your Social Security card can be shipped to.

SEVIS database registration:

From the time you are issued a Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Status, Form DS-2019, you are « in » the SEVIS database.

Once you are in the SEVIS database, you must complete two mandatory program requirements. First, you must confirm the start of your Summer Work & Travel program within 20 days of the start date listed on your DS-2019 Form by notifying CIEE of your US address. Secondly, anytime you change your US address you must update this information in the SEVIS database. It is absolutely imperative that you follow these regulations; failure to do so will result in withdrawal from the program, which may have an adverse effect on your record and may prevent you from obtaining future US visas.

CIEE provides three easy ways for you to fulfill your SEVIS requirements:

1. by toll-free telephone

2. by email

3. via the web

Upon acceptance to a CIEE Work & Travel USA program, you can register by calling CIEE’s toll-free telephone line at 1-888-268-6245 or by e-mailing them at: with your US address. Or, you can join the thousands who have found that using the web is the easiest and fastest method to fulfill the SEVIS requirement. Whatever method you choose, CIEE is committed to helping you maintain regulatory compliance with SEVIS.

All necessary information to register in SEVIS and obtain your Social Security number will be provided with your DS-2019 form. You will also find related information on the CIEE website: