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AmerEx

Orientation
by

American Exchange

on 12 November 2013

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Transcript of AmerEx

Goals of the Program
While in the United States, here are some goals you should hope to achieve…
Cultural exchange- Share your culture and experience the culture of the U.S.
AmerEx Orientation
Welcome!
Improve your English skills
Meet new friends
Explore the United States
As a reminder, the purpose of the program is not to make money. We hope you will participate in as many cultural activities as possible as well as share your culture with your employer and friends.
Before Arrival
Once you receive your visa, there are several things you need to do.
Book your flight and give your Agent your flight itinerary
Re-read the Participant Handbook
Make copies of your important documents (Passport, DS- 2019 Form, etc.) to leave with your family in your home country
Make transportation and lodging plans for when you arrive to the U.S.
Pack your luggage. Please check the Participant Handbook for more tips.
Say good bye to family and friends and have a safe flight!
Validate your program!
Validate your program on AXIS!
Log on to your AXIS Account and click "Validate" tab. Follow all instructions carefully and double check all information. Including capitalization and spelling.
Check your email regularly for confirmation. If there are errors, we will contact you and you need to respond with corrections immediately!
If you do not validate within 10 days of arrival to the US, your visa will be TERMINATED and you will have to go home immediately. This will hurt your chances to get a visa in the future.
Employment
Be familiar with the details of the job offer.
Work hard!
Don't be afraid to ask questions if you do not understand something. It is always important to communicate with your employer.
Be flexible! The workplace may be different than what you are used to and many times an employer may ask you to do things that are not on the job offer. It is important that you are able to adapt and make the best of your time here.
If you feel as though your rights are being compromised at any moment contact AmerEx
immediately
.
Insurance / Medical Information
When you validate you will be provided your insurance information. This information is very important to keep with you in the case of emergency.
If you have a general illness, or non-life threatening emergency, do
NOT
go to the emergency room. It will cost you $500 if you are not admitted. Instead we suggest you go to an urgent care center, or walk-in clinic.
If you have a general cold or flu, the pharmacy will have over the counter medicine (medicine that does not require a prescription) that will help your symptoms.
If you miss work due to illness, it is important to have a doctors note to give to your employer. Please contact your employer immediately if you are going to miss work.
If there is a medical emergency at any time call
911
from any telephone. Do not wait to call if your life is in danger!
In case of emergency dial 911!
Transportation
If public transportation is available, we suggest you take advantage of it. It is not unusual for it to take 30- 40 minutes to get to work if you ride a bus or train.
Other transportation options include:
Biking to work
Purchasing a car
Renting a car
Walking if it is a safe and quick route
If you bike to work you MUST:
Wear a helmet and any other protective gear at all times!
Have a light on your bike
Ride only where it is safe
ALWAYS ride with caution!!
If you are walking it is important that you never walk alone and always walk in well-lit, populated places. You must take every precaution to be safe, especially since you are in an unfamiliar country.
Do not EVER get a ride from a stranger or hitchhike!
Packing
What to Pack:
Any medication, contact lenses or prescription you may need.
$1000-$2000 pocket money for your first few weeks.
Chargers for cameras or other electronic devices.
Passport, DS-2019 Form, Two photo identification cards, The Participant Handbook.
Pack Light! You may buy many cheap items in the U.S.!
What NOT to Pack:
Expensive jewelry, bags, or electronics.
Bedding, towels or anything you can purchase in the U.S.
Anything you can live without.
Excessive amounts of clothes- you can do laundry!
Double check the airline's rules about weigh restrictions for luggage.
Check the climate where you will be living to pack the proper clothes!
Your Responsibilities
Prior to coming to the United States, you must be aware of your responsibilities.
You MUST:
Read all documents and information provided to you.
Keep contact with AmerEx and your agent by checking your email weekly.
Validate your program within 10 days!!
(or your program will be terminated!)
Respond to the AmerEx Monthly Check-In, (or your program will be terminated!
Be familiar with the laws of the U.S.A.
Understand the purpose of the program is NOT to make money, get a permanent job or immigrate to the U.S.
Represent your home country and AmerEx in a positive light.
Participate in as many cultural activities as possible, so you can experience the U.S. culture.
Use the 30 day grace period for the intended purposed only.
Arrive on time to your employer (the program begin date on your DS-2019).
Arrange your housing and be aware of where you are living!
Housing
Who arranges it?
Housing arrangements depend from employer to employer. Some employers will offer housing.
You should prepare housing in advance. You should contact other students to share housing so it is less expensive.
Good places to look for housing include:
www.craigslist.com
www.hotpads.com
www.roommtaes.com
Rent
Who pays for my housing?
What is a security deposit?
Employment
Summer Work and Travel
Safety
When you Arrive
What is the J-1 Visa?
The J-1 visa is a non-immigrant cultural exchange visa.
The purpose of the program is to create a better understanding and acceptance between people of other countries and the United States.
All exchange visitors must return to their home country upon completion of your program.
Violating the terms and conditions at any point will result in the termination of your visa. You will have to return to your home country immediately and your chances of obtaining another visa will be hurt.
The Program
The spirit of the Summer Work and Travel Program is to provide you with an opportunity to see the United States, and work to help offset the cost.
At the end of the program you have a 30 day grace period which you may use to travel, so long as you are in your home country on the date set by the Embassy.
The program is not a "work program" and AmerEx cannot guarantee how the amount you will earn. If you are intending to come to the U.S. to make as much money as possible, this is not the program for you.
You should take full advantage of every cultural activity available to you, and share your culture with Americans.
Who is AmerEx?
AmerEx is your visa Sponsor. We are designated by the Department of State to assist in your exchange. We are here to help you throughout the program and make sure you have a safe, fun and successful program.
We are here to ensure that every agent and participant complies with US government rules. If at any time you or the agent do not comply with the regulations, we have the right to terminate your program and you will have to go home immediately.
AmerEx is the only entity entity that has authority to amend, extend, or terminate your visa!
Why participate in Summer Work and travel?
Gain first hand knowledge of a culture completely different from your own.
Meet people not only from the U.S. but from other countries as well.
Improve your English and Expand your worldview.
Gain work experience with U.S. employers.
Open your mind and make the most of your summer holiday!
Basic Program Requirements
You must at a minimum meet all of the requirements below.
Speak English well enough to interact in English, you should be able to understand and communicate full thoughts.
You MUST:
Be currently enrolled in an accredited post-secondary school and actively pursuing a degree.
Be at least 18 years of age
Return home before the university start date of your country.
Be mature, dependable and flexible.
Preparing for the United States
Be prepared for the following costs once you arrive in the United States. You should bring at least
$1000
to cover initial costs.
Rent for accommodation, including security deposits
Linens or other basic household necessities
Transportation
Uniforms (if required by employer)
Food and cell phone
Personal care items
Recreational money for movies, concerts, shopping, etc.
Any additional items you may need
Before you Arrive!
AXIS
Become familiar with the American Exchange Information System (AXIS).
AXIS is your primary method of communication with AmerEx. This is where all of your information, documents and handbooks are stored. It is very important that you are familiar with AXIS and all of the information before you come to the United States. You should check AXIS once a week.
It is very important that you have access to the email with which you registered. If you change your email you must notify AmerEx so that we change it in the system.
Check in with your family and friends.
Be sure to call or send an email to your friends and family letting them know that you arrived safely.
Social Security Cards
What is a Social Security number (SSN)?
A Social Security card is required by U.S. law to receive payment for work.
If you already have a SSN, you do not need to apply for another, you will use the same one.
You must go to a Social Security Office to apply for a SSN. Please check the Participant Handbook for documents and instructions you will need to apply.
You must wait
7-10
days AFTER receiving confirmation of validation before you apply for a SSN. It takes time to enter you into the system.
Per U.S. law, you MAY begin working without a SSN.
Culture Shock
When you leave
AmerEx Laws
When you first come to the United States, you may experience culture shock. It may seem overwhelming to be in a new country with different customs than what you are used to, but you should remain calm. It is normal to experience culture shock and after you settle in to your new surroundings it will not seem so bad. It is important to remain calm and be flexible. Make the best of your experience and you will have a great time!
AmerEx
AmerEx
Resolving Issues
If you come upon a problem we are here to help, but it is always best to try and resolve the problem on your own first.
First, re-read the Participant Handbook to make sure the answer is not in there. Many times it will be.
Don't be scared to ask questions or speak with you employer if you feel as though something is not correct.
If you have spoken with your employer and still are unable to solve your problem please email AmerEx. We are here to help you!
You are responsible for your rent. You must pay in full on time to your landlord. In some cases this will be your employer. It is not acceptable to skip rent or ask to borrow money for rent from your employer.
A security deposit is usually paid with your first month's rent. It is held by the landlord for your entire stay to enure there is no damage to their property. You will receive this amount at the end of your stay if nothing is damaged. If there is damage or wear to the apartment then you will receive less back, or nothing at all.
Sharing Housing
Almost every participant chooses to share housing to save money. This is a great way to make friends from all over the world, but there are some things you need to keep in mind.
You should keep your area and shared areas clean!
You should lock all of your valuables in a safe place.
Be respectful and do not be loud when people are trying to sleep.
Do not damage or move any property in the apartment.
Make a schedule for when you may use the bathroom to get ready.
Make a schedule for cleaning chores so everyone is responsible.
Working Dates
The dates you entered on the AXIS Application are the dates you committed to work. These are the dates on your DS- 2019. Your employer expects you to work until these dates.
You may NOT work past the end date on your DS-2019.
After you finish working, you have 30 days to leave the country. This time allows you to travel and visit different parts of the country. However you must be back in your country by the date specified by your consulate.
For example: If you end work on August 15th, and the consulate sets the end date to August 25th, you only have 10 days to travel and return home.
AmerEx Laws : Part 1
Only YOU are able to fill out the application, and you must fill it out with your correct email address. You must check your email weekly.
The dates you entered on your application are the dates that will appear on your DS-2019, and are the days you are expected to work.
Regardless of the 30 day grace period, you MUST return home by the program dates set by the U.S. Consulate in your home country.
You must read the Participant Handbook. You are responsible for understanding all the information it contains.
AmerEx Laws: Part 2
You must read all of the documents in AXIS, including all letters and pamphlets from the Department of State.
For self-placement jobs, you must find the job your self and communication directly with the employer to know all conditions of the job.
You must arrive to the U.S. with no less than $1,000 USD and with access to $2,000 USD.
If you have a problem after arrival you should contact AmerEx. You should always have the AmerEx contact information with you, including the 24/7 emergency phone number.
AmerEx Laws: Part 3
You MUST
contact
AmerEx within
10
days of the Program Start Date listed on my DS-2019 form, or your program will be terminated.
You must respond to monthly communication and surveys by AmerEx that will be sent to your email address. Failure to respond to two check-ins in a row will result in program termination.
You must be committed to working for the employer listed on your DS-2019 form. However, if there is a need to change employers, you must contact AmerEx and receive written permission BEFORE starting a new job or your program will be terminated.
Second jobs are not always possible, but if you do wish to work a second job you must fill out the second job request form and get written approval from AmerEx before you begin working. A second job may not interfere with your primary position.
AmerEx Laws: Part 4
You should wait 7-10 days after you Validate in AXIS and receive the Validation Confirmation Email, before you apply for the social security card. You can begin working on the start date of the DS-2019 form, even if you have not received the social security card yet.
If you quit your job or are fired, then you must contact AmerEx immediately. You may not travel to another city or state before talking to AmerEx.
You must report any housing or address changes in AXIS within 10 days of the change, or your program may be terminated.
If you bike to work, you must take all safety precautions, including wearing a helmet and light for night riding, as well as learning all biking laws.
You MUST
validate
your program in AXIS within
10
days of the program start date on your DS-2019, or your program will be terminated.
AmerEx Laws: Part 5
You are participating in the program to experience American culture, NOT to make money.
You must participate in at least 3 cultural events during your program. You must report these events to AmerEx.
You must fully understand everything in this orientation.
Biking
Biking is a common mode of transportation for most J-1 visa students because it is inexpensive and convenient, however it is also very dangerous. In the past several J-1 visa students have died or been seriously injured while riding their bikes. It is VERY important that you take every precaution to make sure you are being safe when you bike.
ALWAYS wear a helmet.
Purchase a light for your bike if you ride at night. This will help cars see you.
Do not ever ride on busy roads or highways.
Be sure to learn the biking laws.
Never bike more than 5 miles to and from work.
Try to bike with a friend, there is always safety in numbers.
Walking
If you are close enough to work, many students choose to walk to work. If you choose to walk, you must be VERY careful. Please remember that you are in a foreign country and you should always keep your guard up.
ALWAYS walk in well-lit, well-populated areas.
Do not walk through dark alleys or unsafe neighborhoods.
Do not ever ride on busy roads or highways. Only on sidewalks!
Do not walk with headphones in. You must be able to hear your surroundings.
Never walk more than 1 mile to work.
Walk with a friend, there is always safety in numbers.
Do not take rides from strangers!
Important Information
Be sure to always carry the AmerEx contact information in case you find yourself in an emergency situation. You should also always carry ID. Remember, you are in a foreign country, things may be very different from what you are used to so it is very important to take every safety precaution!
Always lock your apartment door, even if you are inside.
Always be aware of your surroundings.
Never give out your personal information including bank numbers and you S.S.N.
Never hitchhike or get into a car with someone you do not know.
Never give your address or phone number to a stranger.
The legal age to consume alcohol is
21
. Do NOT buy alcohol for anyone under 21 and NEVER drink and drive!
It is illegal to have sexual relations with anyone under the age of 18, even if they are consenting.
Do your best to always stay with friends. Try not to go anywhere alone.
If you are ever in an emergency situation, dial 9-1-1.
Traveling
Grace Period
Pre- Departure Checklist
After the end of your program (the date on your Ds- 2019 form) you have 30 days to leave the country. This time allows you prepare for your departure and travel the United States.
It is important to note that while you have up to 30 days, you must not stay past the dates set by the consulate in your home country.
For example: If the U.S. consulate in your home country has set the end date of your program to be September 15th, you MUST be back in your home country on this day regardless if you have used all 30 days on the grace period. If the end date on your DS-2019 is September 13th, then you have 2 days to travel. If the end date on your DS-2019 is September 1st, then you have 15 days to travel.
If your program end date is August 1st, then you must be back in your home country on August 31st, as your grace period must not exceed 30 days.
Some helpful sites to help you travel the United States are:
www.megabus.com
www.boltbus.com
www.studentuniverse.com
www.lonelyplanet.com/usa
www.hihostel.com
It is important to note that after your program end date, you will no longer have health insurance. If you would like, you may purchase extra health insurance to cover the period you are traveling.
Notify your landlord in writing 30 days before you intend to leave.
Determine how you will pay your last month's rent.
Notify phone, electric, gas and water when they should discontinue service.
Leave your forwarding address with your employer, bank, credit card company and AmerEx.
Close your bank account, credit card account and any other services you have in the U.S.
Pay all outstanding bills, fines, or loans.
Donate or sell items you cannot take with you.
Discuss with your employer how you will receive your final paycheck.
American Traits in the Workplace
There may be differences in the American workplace that you are not used to in your home country. Below are some common traits that may help you adjust to your new environment.
Time and Promptness
In the U.S. time is very valuable and being on time is very important. If you are told to be somewhere at certain time, that is exactly when you should arrive. it is not acceptable to be late to work.
Cooperation
American tend to cooperate and work together to complete tasks.
Competition
Americans can be very competitive in the workplace. It may seem overbearing, but it is natural for Americans.
Equality
Americans believe that all people should be treated fairly and all situations should be fair.
Informality
In most working environments, everyone is treated a similar way, with little concern for title and status.
Conversations
Americans tend to not like silence, and will make small talk about weather, sports or food. Typically they do not like to discuss politics or religion.
After the Program
At the end of the program you must return to your home country.
Be sure to share your experiences with your friends and family back home.
AmerEx will send you information about how to file your taxes during tax season. Be sure to look for that information around the February after your program ends.
AmerEx will send you an end of season survey. Please complete is as we would like to know how your experience in America was.
Feel free to send us any photos you took during your time here. We love to see our participants enjoying their time!
You should expect to share a room with 1, maybe 2 people. This is a typical way of living for U.S. college students. You must learn to be patient!
AmerEx Events
AmerEx is here to help facilitate your cultural exchange experience. We host tourist days in Washington DC for our
DC Days
and
AmerEx Getaway Weekend
where we guide students around the nation’s capital.

We also provide students with a
Cultural Opportunities List
of fun activities to be found in and around their host cities
We encourage you to...
Take advantage of AmerEx hosted events and cultural resources
Start conversations with new people.
Do not hesitate to ask people you meet about themselves and be open to share about your culture.
Invite a coworker to lunch, explore your new city, or attend local events.
If you are finding it very difficult to meet the cultural requirements of this program, please email us.We want to help ensure that you have a positive experience.
Culture
Requirement

Cultural Exchange
The Summer Work and Travel Program is first and foremost a cultural exchange program.

As such, the program requires that students engage in cultural activities.

On a monthly basis, the AmerEx team will check in with you to make sure that this requirement is being met.
Full transcript