New Zealand and Australia Twelve-Month Student Work and Recent Graduate Travel Programs
New Zealand and Australia Twelve-Month Student Work and Recent Graduate Travel Programs
Since 2007 the United States and New Zealand have agreed to run a reciprocal work and travel program which allows post-secondary students or recent graduates from each country to work and travel in either country for up to twelve months. (New Zealand and Australia are the only two countries in the world with this arrangement with the U.S.A.) The idea of the program is to offer young Kiwis the chance to experience the U.S. not just as a future holiday destination, but as a potential place to study. Anything we can do to help people-to-people exchanges – and particularly travel of young people – between our two countries, will be good for us all in the future.
Eligibility criteria for participants are noted below.
- Be a citizen of New Zealand.
- Be a bona fide post-secondary student or recent graduate. To be considered a bona fide post-secondary student, the potential participant must have completed his/her freshman (first) year. A recent graduate is defined as a New Zealand citizen who has graduated from a (post-secondary) college/university in their home country within the last 12 months. The applicant must provide evidence of student status.
- Vocational students pursuing studies at a tertiary level accredited educational institution are eligible for participation.
- Provide proof of sufficient financial resources, prior to coming to the United States, to support themselves during a search for employment or between breaks in employment.
For New Zealand citizens coming to the United States, this program will operate under the current Exchange Visitor Program Summer Work Travel regulations and in accordance with the guidelines provided to each designated sponsor.
The new program will enable New Zealand tertiary students to work and travel in the United States for up to a year.
A list of designated sponsors, as well as other information about the student work and travel program, is available from the following website, under the category Summer Work/Travel: website link.
- What is the 12 Month Work/Travel Program?
- What is meant by a recent graduate?
- How will the Program differ from the existing SWT program?
- Am I eligible to take part in the Program?
- Do I need to be a current student?
- Can I take part in this program if I am accompanied by dependants in the United States?
- Is the Program available only at certain times of the year?
- Is there a quota limiting the numbers of participants?
- Can I take part in the program more than once?
- What is the role of sponsor organizations in the new Program? Is there a limit to the number of employers I can have while in the United States?
- What is the difference between the B-1/B-2 business and tourist visa and the Student Work and Travel Program visa?
- Why do I need a sponsor? Who are the sponsors?
- Will the sponsoring organization find me a job? Do I need to have guaranteed employment to participate?
- Once I have a sponsor, how do I apply for my visa?
- Are there any fees for the visa application?
- What is "post-secondary education" for the purposes of this program?
- Are students attending vocational schools eligible for participation in this program?
- How long may I stay on the Student Work and Travel Program?
- Can I adjust to a different visa status once I am in the United States?
- Is there an age limit for the Student Work and Travel Program?
- Are there any restrictions on the type of work that can be accepted on the Student Work and Travel Program?
This program allows New Zealand citizens who are bonafide current tertiary students or recent tertiary graduates to work in the United States for a maximum period of 12 months. The program will be administered under the current Exchange Visitor Program regulations governing the Summer Work Travel (SWT) category of exchange.
For this Program, a recent graduate is defined as a New Zealand citizen who has graduated from an accredited tertiary institution within the last 12 months.
Qualified participants in the Program can stay for a maximum period of 12 months, can enter the United States to begin the Program at any time, and are not required to return home in time for the school year to begin. A recent graduate (a student who has graduated within the last 12 months) is eligible to participate and is not required to make application for the Program prior to graduation. Also, tertiary students in vocational studies are eligible to participate in the Program (but not in the 4 month SWT program).
You are eligible to take part in the Program if you are:
- a New Zealand or Australian citizen;
- a current tertiary student or recent tertiary graduate (and able to provide evidence to this effect); and
- not accompanied by dependants.
No. Eligible participants can be current tertiary students or recent tertiary graduates. You must be able to provide evidence to this effect.
6. Can I take part in this program if I am accompanied by dependants in the United States?
No. You will not be able to bring spouses or children with you to the U.S. on this Program.
7. Is the Program available only at certain times of the year?
No, it is available year-round.
10. What is the role of sponsor organizations in the Program? Is there a limit to the number of employers I can have while in the United States?
The Program operates in the same way as the current J-1 Summer Work Travel program. The role of sponsor organizations is the same. Potential participants will need to obtain a Form DS-2019 “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status” from their sponsor before being issued a visa in Auckland. It is the sponsoring organization’s decision regarding the number of employers allowed during your time in the United States.
11. What is the difference between the B-1/B-2 business and tourist visa and the Student Work and Travel Program visa?
New Zealand/Australian participants in the Work and Travel Program may work and travel in the U.S. for up to 12 months. The B-1/B-2 business and tourist visa allows short stays to conduct business meetings, attend conferences, visit family, or engage in other temporary business or tourist activities. B-1/B-2 visa holders may generally not work or study in the U.S., with only certain specific exceptions provided for under U.S. immigration regulations. For further information on B-1/B-2 visas, please click here.
12. Why do I need a sponsor? Who are the sponsors?
Sponsorship is a standard U.S. visa requirement for exchange visitor applicants. Participants must secure sponsorship from an approved exchange organization. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has approved the following New Zealand sponsoring organizations for the Work and Travel Program:
- Camp America New Zealand
- Camp Counselors USA/Work Experience USA
- International Cultural Exchange Organization, Inc.
- International Exchange of North America, Inc. - IEP New Zealand
- Life Adventures, Inc.
- Walt Disney World Co.
Further information on program sponsorship for the Work and Travel Program can be obtained by contacting the individual sponsors listed above. Additional information on exchange visitor programs is available on the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Website.
13. Will the sponsoring organization find me a job? Do I need to have guaranteed employment to participate?
Designated sponsors of exchange programs are obligated to pre-arrange employment for at least 50 % of their participants. For those participants for whom employment has not been pre-arranged, sponsors must:
1. Ensure that participants have sufficient financial resources to support themselves during their search for employment;
2. Provide participants with pre-departure information that explains how to seek employment and secure lodging in the United States;
3. Prepare and provide a job directory that includes as many job listings as the number of participants entering the United States without pre-arranged employment; and,
4. Undertake reasonable efforts to secure suitable employment for participants unable to find jobs on their own after one week.
14. Once I have a sponsor, how do I apply for my visa?
Once you have obtained approval from a designated U.S. program sponsor, you may then apply for your visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Evidence of your acceptance into a designated program is Form DS-2019, issued to you by the program sponsor. For comprehensive information on how to apply for a visa at U.S. Consulates in New Zealand, including the documents necessary to complete the application process follow this link: visas page
15. Are there any fees for the visa application?
For further details on fees, please see our fees page
16. What is "post-secondary education" for the purposes of this program?
To be considered a bona fide post-secondary student, the potential participant must have completed his/her freshman (first) year of a post-high school program such as a Bachelor's degree program or other course which will lead to the issuance of a degree.
17. Are students attending vocational schools eligible for participation in this program?
The requirements are that a New Zealand/Australian citizen wishing to travel to the United States must qualify as a student; that is, someone who is currently enrolled in a bona fide post-secondary course of study or who has completed/graduated from a bona fide post-secondary course of study within the last 12 months. Evidence to this effect must be provided.
Students attending a vocational school are not eligible to participate in the Work and Travel Program unless they are pursuing studies at a tertiary level accredited educational institution.
Short courses such as the 16-18 week “snowboard instructor” courses do not qualify for this 12 month Work and Travel Program.
For further guidance, please refer to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs exchange programs website.
18. How long may I stay on the Work and Travel Program?
A valid U.S. visa allows a traveler to arrive at a port of entry in the United States any time during the validity of the visa. Permission to enter the United States, and the length of stay granted on each visit, is at the discretion of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), part of the Department of Homeland Security. The initial visa may be valid for up to twelve months from the date of issuance, and participants will generally be granted permission to remain in the United States for the entire duration of their status as a program participant.
19. Can I adjust to a different visa status once I am in the United States?
Once you are in the United States you are responsible for maintaining the correct immigration status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For further information on changing to a different visa status once in the United States, you may visit the USCIS website at uscis.gov.
20. Is there an age limit for the Student Work and Travel Program?
21. Are there any restrictions on the type of work that can be accepted on the Student Work and Travel Program?
Participants may accept a professional level position; however they may not be employed as domestic employees in U.S. households (e.g. child care, chauffeurs, gardeners, etc.); in positions requiring them to invest their own money for inventory (such as door-to-door sales); or in any employment involving any type of patient care (dentists, doctors, vets, nurses, physical therapists, etc.). Most participants typically work in non-skilled service positions at resorts, hotels, restaurants, and amusement parks. Summer internships in U.S. businesses and other organizations (i.e., architecture, science research, graphic art/publishing and other media communication, advertising, computer software and electronics, and legal offices, etc.) are allowed.
Participants may not accept any position that may bring the Department or the Exchange Visitor Program into notoriety or disrepute or that would displace American workers. For more information please refer to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website.