All Summer Work Travel and Camp Counselor participants sponsored by ACES will be traveling to the United States with a J-1 Visa. Below you will find useful links and tips. If you are a first-time visitor to the US, you may have some questions about travel, documents, US laws, etc. We have provided the following information for your convenience. If you have any further questions, email us at [email protected] or call us toll-free from inside the US at 855-517-8233.

Travel Tips for Entering the US
Make two copies of important documentation before you leave your home country: DS 2019, SEVIS fee receipt, Passport biographical page, Visa, employment contract. Keep one set of copies at home and pack the other set in your luggage in case the originals are ever lost.

Carry the original travel documents on your person. Do not pack them in your luggage as you may not have access to your luggage until after you clear immigration.
Always keep your valuables, ie camera, wallet, passport, documents, and money close to you at all times, especially in crowded places like airports, bus terminals, and train stations. Most American’s are friendly and helpful, however, there are some people who will recognize that you are a visitor and try to exploit you.

Applying for your Social Security Number
In order to obtain a social security number you must complete an application, form SS5, at a social security office. The Social Security Administration suggests that participants wait at least 10 days after validating your visa before applying for your social security number. Most camps will organize a day or time for you to do this in a group but you can locate the social security office nearest your location at You will also need to present the following documents:

Valid passport with J-1 visa
White I-94 card issued upon entry into the US
DS 2019 forms
Job offer
You should make a copy of all of these documents and keep them safe in case of loss or theft of the originals.

The Social Security Card will be mailed to the address you listed on the SS5 form. It can take anywhere from 2-12 weeks to receive your Social Security Card, however, you are legal to work. All camps will usually understand this. To check the status of your application, you can call the Social Security Office directly at 1-800-772-1213 .

If your application has been processed, you can go, in person, to any Social Security Office to receive your number verbally. You must have identification.

Travel During Contracted Employment:
Your visa allows you to travel freely throughout the United States. You may travel outside of the United States during your work term on an overnight camp trip as a chaperone or during time off. You MUST however, have your DS 2019 form signed by the Responsible Officer or a designated Alternate Responsible Officer. This signature verifies that your employer and your visa sponsor know that you are traveling outside of the United States and that you are expected to return to continue your visa term. Be sure to check the work dates indicated on your DS 2019 form. If your visa has expired, you will not be permitted to re-enter the US as a J-1 participant.
* Please note, depending on your home country, a visa may be required to enter Canada or Mexico.

Travel Grace Period:

As a participant in the Exchange Visitor Program, you are permitted to travel for up to 30 days after your employment end date indicated on the DS 2019 form. If you travel out of the continental U.S. during this period, however, you will not be able to re-enter under the same visa, and you will forfeit your insurance coverage.

Violations of immigration regulations can jeopardize the possibility of obtaining any type of US visa in the future. Participants who remain in the US after the authorized travel period risk being arrested and deported.

Travel and Tourist Sites

Lodging links

Transportation links

Exiting the USA
As you exit the country you MUST submit your part of the I-94 card to an immigration official so that your departure is record. This is the only record they have that you have exited the country and have not violated US laws by staying in the country too long. Failure to submit the I-94 card upon departure will cause the status on your record to be marked “overstay” and you will be denied re-entry into the US. This occasionally happens, however, and there is a procedure you can follow to have the matter resolved. Contact ACES should you exit the country without turning in your I-94 card.

Additional Detailed Information For The International Traveler U.S. Laws:
As a visitor in the Unites States you are expected to follow all of the laws and regulations and you are subjected to all consequences for violations. Below you will find some common offenses that you will want to avoid:
Disturbing the Peace
Underage Drinking
Drinking Alcohol in Public Places
Shoplifting or Theft Drug Possession
Destruction of Property
Disorderly Conduct (talking back to the police)
False Identification (using someone else’s license or passport, or permitting someone to use yours)
The U.S. police can be very strict . Using the excuse that you did not know will not release you from from any crimes or violations which you commit.

You must be 21 years old to drink alcohol legally in the United States. If you are found with alcohol and you are under 21, you may be arrested and expected to pay a fine. If you are over 21 but provide alcohol to anyone under the age of 21, you can also be arrested and expected to pay a fine. Drinking alcohol in public such as on public beaches or on a public street is prohibited in many places. You could be expected to pay a fine if you are found guilty.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI). DWI/DUI laws are very strict. If you are found guilty you will be arrested, spend the night in jail and you could be fined up to $5,000. When going out as a group be sure to either appoint a “designated driver” who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages and who will drive the rest of the group to and from their destination or plan on alternative transportation options such as a taxi.

Illegal use or possession of controlled substances (drugs) in the USA is subject to prosecution by law. The penalties for drug possession vary from state to state and region to region. If you are found guilty of use, possession or association with people who have drugs themselves, you could be fined in addition to spending time in jail.

Smoking is not permitted in many office buildings, restaurants and when using public transportation. If you smoke, be sure to note any “no smoking” signs.

Tips for Staying Safe:
While most visitors do not experience any problems through their stay and in their travels in the US, use caution in unfamiliar areas to help prevent any issues. Here are some tips for staying safe:
Avoid deserted streets, bus stops and subway stops. Try to travel where there are other people around.
Know something about the areas and neighborhoods you are visiting especially at night.
Do not expose large amounts of cash in public areas.
Keep your possessions with you at all times.
Be aware of your surroundings especially in busy railways and bus stations where pickpockets may be more common.