Summer Work and Travel

FAQ

On this page:


Overview

The U.S. Embassy in Sofia encourages all Bulgarian students attending university-level studies to consider participation in the Summer Work Travel program (SWT). In previous years, approximately six-thousand Bulgarian students have travelled each summer to different cities across the United States where they experience our people and culture firsthand. They, in turn, share their culture and language with their host communities and provide a mutually beneficial cross-cultural exchange experience.

In addition to gaining valuable English language practice, participants have the chance to acquire work experience in a variety of fields. Upon completion of a work assignment in the United States, students are afforded thirty days to travel within the United States before returning home.

Requirements

  • Applicants must have a good command of the English language, a strong academic record, and be outgoing and flexible.
  • Only full-time students at accredited universities/colleges are eligible to participate in SWT.
  • Repeat participants are welcomed. Previous participation in the program, however, does not guarantee that future applications will be successful.
  • Each applicant needs to be able to show to the interviewing consul that he/she will return to Bulgaria at the conclusion of the program. First and final-year students may apply, though they may have more difficulty proving sufficient ties to Bulgaria. Less than one year of university may not be deemed a sufficiently significant investment in one’s education to establish ties to Bulgaria. Similarly, students having only their "State" exam, which may be postponed for several years, may also have difficulties persuading the consular officer that they are bona-fide students with sufficient ties to Bulgaria.
  • Correspondent students - as well as those attending vocational/distance learning schools and secondary schools for adults - do not qualify for the Summer Work & Travel program.
  • Although there are no formal age restrictions for participants, applicants who are not of normal student age will receive greater scrutiny.

How to Apply for SWT

Students participating in SWT will travel to the U.S. under the auspices of an accredited U.S. - based sponsor. The U.S. sponsor is directly responsible for finding students appropriate job placements as well as for ensuring the overall success of the program. In order to make the process more accessible to students, there are many local Bulgarian recruiting agencies that serve as a liaison between the U.S. sponsors and the students. The basic package provided by accredited Bulgarian agencies should include the following services:

  • Help with locating a job and housing in the United States; students must have a confirmed job before they can apply for a visa
  • Scheduling the interview for the visa and assistance in completing all the required paperwork
  • Providing travel insurance and contacts in the United States that will help in event of an emergency
  • The U.S. Embassy in Sofia does not endorse the use of any particular agency. We strongly suggest that applicants research how much each agency charges applicants for their services.

How to Apply

Your US Sponsor and Bulgarian Local Agent will assist you in preparing and scheduling your visa interview. Please keep the following points in mind:

  • Applicants must appear for their interview on the scheduled date at the appointed hour; applicants who submit incomplete packages or miss their appointments will be denied pursuant to 221(g) and must schedule a new interview, which may result in the loss of the opportunity to participate in the SWT program.
  • Students failing to qualify for J-1 visas will receive their passports and supplemental application materials immediately following the interview.
  • Qualifying applicants' passports will be received via mial at the address they have specified when their appointment was scheduled. Applicants should not expect to travel sooner than five working days after their interview.
  • If an applicant will not be able to arrive in the U.S. in time for the beginning date of the program, as reflected in the DS-2019, the application must be suspended until the beginning date is amended in the SEVIS system.
  • Applicants should NEVER purchase tickets prior to receipt of their passport with visa. We are unable to expedite the issuance of visas on the basis of pre-purchased tickets.
  • SWT applicants who were refused visas pursuant to section 214(b) may reapply for the same season after May 7.

Supporting Documents

  • Valid passport
  • Completed on-line DS-160; you must state the name of your future employer and where you will be working in the U.S. (NOTE: A bar coded confirmation sheet must be presented)
  • DS-2019 form (acceptance to a designated exchange visitor program); this form is submitted directly to the embassy by your sponsoring agency
  • 35 USD SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • Bank payment receipt for visa fee
  • Student book
  • Uverenie" issued by the university
  • An additional photo
  • Any other documents the applicant feels are necessary to illustrate strong ties to Bulgaria

When You Arrive in the U.S.

  • Upon arrival, all U.S. – based sponsors are required to provide students with a copy of the U.S. Department of State’s SWT brochure and participant letter, and an email address of a dedicated contact in the Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
  • In the rare case that you encounter any difficulties during your stay, the U.S. Department of State has established a toll-free, 24-hour a day phone line to assist you with complaints or issues that have arisen: 1-866-283-9090.
  • If you would like to change your job while in the U.S., you must inform your U.S. sponsor of your desire to do so in order to ensure proper vetting of the proposed employer.
  • Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself! In addition to SWT being an extremely valuable educational and work experience for all students who participate, at the end of the day this program is simply a lot of fun.