What is a traineeship?

A traineeship is a job placement that allows you to use your degree and work experience to further train in your field while also gaining work experience in the US. This training placement can be paid or unpaid and must be directly related to either:

  • Your degree and one year of full-time work experience in your field, OR
  • is further training to enhance your existing five years of full-time work experience in your field.

Your employer in the US will need to provide you with an in-depth training plan that will outline all areas of learning.

Couldn't I just go on a US traineeship without SWAP?

This program must be purchased through an official US government-nominated sponsor company. In Canada, sponsors have partnered with SWAP Working Holidays to coordinate the Professional Career Training USA program for interested participants.

How long does it take from the time that I apply
to the time that I can start my traineeship in the US?

The application process takes approximately 6-8 weeks from the time we receive your completed profile forms. We allot 2-3 weeks for participants and their host organizations to complete their online application and training plan. After submission, our US sponsor will take up to 4 weeks to review and process applications. Please note that extra processing time will apply if a site visit is required.

What is a J-1 visa, a DS-2019, and why do I need them?

A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States Department of State to exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange, especially to obtain business training within the US. J-1 visas have various classes and all J-1 visas must be issued by a sponsor organization in the US that is responsible for not only issuing the visa documentation, but they are also responsible for ensuring your safety, and compliance with all program regulations.

The DS-2019 (the "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status") is the document that is issued to each intern and allows you to enter the US and participate on this J-1 traineeship training program.

What is a site visit?

According to the J-1 visa regulations from the US Department of State, a site visit from your US Sponsor to your host company may be required to ensure that it meets government requirements. Additional processing time will be required (approximately 7-10 business days), as well as an extra cost of $400 CAD.

Site visits are required at host companies that have never hosted a trainee with the Sponsor before. A site visit will NOT be required if:

  • Your host company has more than 10 full time employees, OR
  • Your host company earns more than $3,000,000 USD in annual revenue.
What is a Sponsor?

Your official sponsor in the US is our partner organization who issues your documentation. They are the ones who interview your employer and make sure your traineeship experience follows the guidelines set by the US Department of State. The Sponsor will be your primary contact once you are in the US and they will require regular contact with you to ensure that you are having the most beneficial traineeship experience possible.

Your employer does not have to sponsor you.

Can I go on an unpaid traineeship?

Your traineeship can be paid or unpaid, and there is no maximum limit on how much you are allowed to earn. It's up to you to negotiate your remuneration with your employer. Please note that the J-1 trainee visa is required even if your traineeship is unpaid.

If your salary is less than $1,000 USD per month, you will need to prove that you will have access to at least $1,000 per month in total by way of salary or letter from your bank or a guarantor letter. For personal budget planning, please keep in mind that you are not allowed to obtain any other job other than your traineeship.

I'm married and / or have children. Can I bring my family with me?

It is possible to bring your family (spouse, children) on you to the US with a J-2 dependent visa. This will allow your family to reside in the US for the entire time of your traineeship, but it will NOT allow them to work. There is a separate fee for J-2 dependents, so please contact us for more details at info@swap.ca.

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor Information System) is a US government system to track foreign visitors in the US. The fee to register for SEVIS is included in your SWAP registration fees and we give you instructions on how to start the SEVIS tracking in your GO SWAP Kit. Once in the US, you must register your US address within 20 days of your training start date. If you do not comply with the requirements of SEVIS at any point during your traineeship, your visa will be automatically terminated. All the important information will be given to you in your GO SWAP Kit.

When should I book my travel to the US?

Please confirm or book your travel arrangements only when we know that your application has been approved. Unforeseen delays in visa processing are always possible. If you are planning to enter the US on a one-way ticket, immigration officials may want to see proof that you have the funds to return to Canada.

How much does the SWAP PCT USA program cost?

The PCT USA program prices depend on the length of your stay in the country (not just the length of your traineeship) and are listed in the Application Package. Also remember that the program fee also includes everything listed here.

Extra fees apply if a site visit at your host company is required.

When do I pay for the SWAP PCT USA program?

Once you complete the application forms and have submitted them to us, the SWAP PCT USA coordinator will contact you to go over your forms and take payment. We need to see your completed documents before we take payment. You can pay either by credit card, certified cheque, or money order.

What are support funds?

Support funds are the money that the Sponsor requires you to have that proves you can support yourself throughout your stay in the US.

You will need to have $1,200 USD in your own funds at the time of application, plus have access to $1,000 USD per month of stay in the US - which can be through your traineeship salary, personal savings, or through a guarantor (such as a parent or family member).

Can I travel outside of the US while I'm doing my traineeship?

You can exit the US during your traineeship, to visit home or to visit other countries. However, you cannot be away from your traineeship for more than 30 days. Each time you leave the US you should advise the Sponsor and get a signature from them for re-entry to the US. The signature will be valid for 2 months, and will take approximately 2 weeks to receive.

I have worked in the US before. Can I do this again?

If you had a Summer Work J-1 visa through SWAP, you will be eligible for a different type of J-1 visa. If you are unsure of the visa type that you had when you last worked in the US, please contact us at internships@swap.ca.

Can I travel outside of Canada while my traineeship application is being processed?

Unlike other SWAP programs where the original passport is needed to process your visa, the PCT USA program only requires a copy of your passport. This means you are free to travel while your application is being processed.

In your best interest, please leave us a phone number or e-mail address where you can be reached in case you are required to submit documents or we have questions for you during processing.

Your GO SWAP Kit, which includes your DS-2019 and other important documentation, can only be sent to a Canadian address.

You must enter the US from Canada to activate your visa.

How much of a role does my host organization have in the visa application process?

The main responsibility of your host organization is to complete a comprehensive training plan (DS-7002) for the duration of your traineeship. This training plan acts as the second half of your visa application. During the visa approval process, our sponsor will be in direct communication with your host organization, to confirm that your placement meets the requirements of the US Department of State.

What's included when you GO with SWAP
  • Personalized assistance in reviewing and editing the necessary application forms.
  • We take care of the processing and issuance of the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor J-1 Status (DS-2019).
  • The mandatory health insurance coverage for the full duration of your stay in the United States.
  • The GO SWAP Kit, which includes: Your DS-2019, SEVIS receipt, insightful pre-departure / border crossing literature, and a participant handbook that has important information on SEVIS, Social Security, taxes, visa rules and regulations, etc.
  • Mandatory orientation after the approval of your visa, covering: required documents, health insurance, visa rules and regulations, and much more.
  • Your US Sponsor will monitor your traineeship on an ongoing basis, ensuring that it meets the Training Placement Plan described and agreed to for your traineeship.
  • Access to a toll-free, 24/7 emergency number.