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Working in America

How to work in America on a working holiday

At Gapwork we often get asked "how can I work in America for a year on my year out?" Many young people from the UK want to get a summer job in America and take a gap year in the USA.

Unfortunately for them, there is no year long "working holiday visa" type arrangement for the USA, like there is in Australia, Canada or New Zealand. Despite the fact that the UK and America have a "special relationship", we speak the same language and have historical links, young British people cannot just apply online for a visa which entitles them to travel and work in America for 12 months.

The only way that you can work in the USA as part of your gap year is by applying for a J1 visa. This visa enables you to do one of several work abroad options in America. The Summer Work and Travel Program means that students from overseas universities can visit the USA during their summer holidays. During this time they can spend some time working on a temporary basis. This program is limited to a duration of 4 months, and you have to return before the start date of university. To qualify for this program you need to be a current full time student on a degree or HND course. If you are going to be jobhunting you need to have proof of funds of at least $1000 when you arrive.

If you are not a student a J1 visa can allow you to work on a summer camp. You have to be aged 18 and over, and again you are limited to working for one summer period only.

One way of working in the USA for a longer period is by using a J1 visa to work as an Au Pair. An Au Pair can work in America for up to 12 months, with the opportunity to extend this to another 12 months. You will need to work up to 10 hours per day or do 45 hours per week of childcare duties.

Alternatively, if you a recent graduate or student at college or university, you can work in America on an internship for up to 12 months. This is a great way to get valuable work experience, and see what working in America is really like, but remember that you will need to finance the internship yourself to some extent. Whichever option you go for, you will need assistance from one the approved partner organisations to find work and sort out your visa. Recently America has tightened up its rules relating to J1 visas, with increased vetting and monitoring of applicants, particularly from certain countries.

We recommend contacting one of the organisations or companies on our USA Jobs page or Au Pair page to help you to find your dream job working in the USA.