Resources > Orientation > Living in the US
Post-arrival checklistPDFReturn
This section has a variety of information that is useful to know when living in the United States.
Upon arrival in the United States, participants are required to complete the SEVIS validation process within the specified time period. If your program isn’t validated in time, it may result in the cancellation of your J visa/status and program which requires your immediate departure from the US. Your future entry to the US may also be jeopardized.
☐ Check-in and SEVIS validation. Participants are allowed to make an initial entry into the US up to 30 days before their program start date. Upon their initial arrival in the US, they must notify us and complete the check-in/SEVIS validation process within three days of arrival (if not possible, apply for a three-day buffer) and and attend the Post-Arrival Orientation within 14 days after arrival. Upon successful completion of the validation process, FUSIA will then notify the DHS of the arrival and update the participant’s SEVIS record from “Initial” to “Active.” This process is time sensitive and mandatory for all incoming J visa holders and any dependents. Complete the check-in process within 72 hours (apply for a 72-hour extension if needed).

• After exiting customs, immediately text your FUSIA advisor so that we know of your whereabouts
• Complete the check-in process (see below) within the aforementioned timeframe
• Subscribe to a qualified/uninterrupted cell plan (unlimited talk/text + 10GB+ or unlimited 4G/5G LTE speed) – click HERE
• Download your Form I-94 from, take a photo of your admission stamp, and submit images of both
• Ensure that we have your latest US address (even if it’s subject to change); include the room # (required by SEVIS)
• Wait for a few hours before downloading your Form I-94 for the record to be shown in
• If you find errors in Form I-94, correct them at the Deferred Inspection Office of the airport or online - click HERE for more

☐ Post-arrival orientation. Participants and dependents aged 13 and up are required to attend a post-arrival orientation. Most of the information presented in the post arrival orientation is already covered in the pre-arrival orientation, albeit in greater detail. The post-arrival orientation is meant to remind exchange visitors about the information they previously learned. These orientations are typically conducted every Friday evening, except when the orientation is presented to a group of participants from a partner school/organization – in these cases, we try to have more flexible scheduling to accommodate everyone. Each session lasts about an hour. Appointments are required for attendance. Attend the orientation within 14 days after landing.

• BridgeUSA (J-1 Visa) Exchange Visitor Program - click HERE
• Living and Interning in the US - click HERE
• US Life and Customs - click HERE
• US Workplace Culture - click HERE
• City Spotlights - click HERE

☐ Finalize housing. Participants are suggested to first settle in a hotel or temporary housing during their first week and finalize their housing arrangements during this time; once housing has been finalized, remember to update FUSIA’s online portal with the updated address and related proof – click HERE

☐ Open bank account. Open a local bank account in order to get conveniently paid by your host and reducing the amount of cash you need to carry around (if the bank requires proof of address before you finalize your housing arrangements, you may try to enter your current US address to your cell account and use the bill/screenshot that shows your address to prove your address) – click HERE

☐ Apply for SSN. Social Security Card are assigned to Americans and foreigners who are authorized to work in the US. If you will be paid by your host, whether a salary, wage, or stipend, apply for a Social Security Number (SSN); while the application will take some time, schedule an appointment online to obtain the “control number” which can be temporarily used in lieu of your SSN for completion of the initial forms required within the first three days of work – click HERE

☐ Apply for state ID/driver’s license. While some states don’t allow foreigners to apply for ID until a period of time has passed, most states allow such individuals to apply for state IDs and driver’s licenses, which can be used for photo identification in lieu of a passport (the latter can be used in lieu of IDP); participants who want to apply for one can do so after finalizing their housing arrangements, as proof of residency will be required – click HERE


☐ Complete initial forms. Hosts are required by authorities to complete necessary forms (or have them completed by the participant) for any new hires within a given timeframe. As examples, Form I-9 (due within the first three days of work by the USCIS) and Form W-4 (due by the first payday so that the proper amount of taxes are withheld) are the two basic forms that all new hires on the payroll are required to complete. For those who are from a country that has a treaty with the US and desire to claim such benefits, Form 8233 will be required. To save time, participants may partially complete them and bring them to their host along with their passport (original), Form DS-2019 (original), and a copy of their Form I-94 (for employment verification) on the first day work - click HERE Enter “Applied For” (paper) or “0” or the “control number” from the appointment confirmation letter as per the instructions from SSA.

☐ Payroll. To get paid, participants must be on the host’s payroll. Hosts should have their accounting staff coordinate with the participant so that they are added to the payroll. Participants, if you haven’t done so already, make sure that you have registered for an SSN and a bank account. After receiving your SSN, notify your host who will in turn update your record. Hosts, if you have already filed the quarterly wage report before receiving the participant’s SSN, file Form W-2C, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement to update their SSN with the IRS records. Do not use Form 1099 for the participant, as they are considered “employees” as opposed to “subcontractors/consultants.”

☐ Orientation. Hosts are obligated to give an orientation to participants upon the first two weeks of them starting work. This orientation should highlight expectations, dos and don’ts, rules, and procedures. Before the orientation, participants should jot down any questions they may have, as these can be answered during the meeting. Participants, please get in touch with your MPS/PPS to arrange accordingly. Hosts, if you have any documents that you will require participants to sign, please send us a copy beforehand.

☐ Company policy. Starting in a new worksite, participants may be confused about many of the procedures employed at their host. While proper communication is important for a successful program, hosts should give participants a copy of the company policy and guidelines and go over important topics with them, e.g., discrimination, harassment, work hours/overtime, safety, sick days, holidays, among other matters that they are expected to follow and are protected by. Hosts, have the participant(s) sign an acknowledgement after reviewing the policy with them.

☐ Communicate and adjust. Other than official company policies, there are also individual preferences that supervisors and participants may have. As examples, a supervisor may prefer certain forms of communication over others, and some participants eagerly look forward to getting feedback. Participants, don’t make assumptions if you are unsure about something; ask your MPS/PPS directly for clarifications.

☐ Dress code. Every host has a designated dress code that their employees are expected to abide by. Participants should ask their supervisors about the dress policy prior to arrival to ensure that they have enough appropriate clothing and clarify the choice of clothing at the orientation just to be sure. Check out the Dress Code section. Participants, on your first day of work, it is not a bad idea to dress better than dress code to show respect.

☐ Lunch culture. Every company has its own lunch culture; some companies encourage employees to eat lunch together, while others do not prioritize such arrangements. Participants, find out about their host’s lunch culture at the orientation; take advantage of lunch time to socialize with your American colleagues.

☐ Periodic meetups. To ensure the continued progress of the program and alignment with Form DS-7002, it is important to have regular meetings between the PPS and the participant. Participants, prepare for (before sessions), take notes (during sessions), and recap any suggestions and goals that should be achieved or revisited by the next session (after sessions).

☐ Conflict resolution and prevention. Based on our past experiences with hosts and participants, many conflicts are easily resolvable with early intervention. If the participant or host feel as though there is conflict brewing, immediately resolve the issue by talking it out with the involved parties. As always, ask FUSIA for help – we are happy to assist.

☐ Gift-giving. Participants may, though it’s unnecessary, to bring their host a gift from your home country and/or buy the supervisor(s) and colleagues something as a gesture of for the experience they have been given. If so, make it memorable and thoughtful – absolutely nothing expensive and that are directed to both your supervisors and fellow coworkers. Gift ideas: Something that represent the participant’s culture (at the start); a cake or something that can be shared, handwritten thank-you note(s), a photo with your supervisor and colleagues (at the end).

☐ Reference. It is com referenmon for participants to expectces at the end of the program. To avoid disappointment, participants should first clarify with the host any policies related to reference letters/references. If the PPS can serve as a reference and/or issue reference letters, the participant should communicate with them clearly regarding expectations and follow up to ensure that both parties are on the same page (this increases the likelihood of getting a reference letter from the supervisor). In addition, if there are no rules against it, participants should also interact with their American colleagues, who can also be a good source for future references. There are companies that do not give out references (e.g., fear of possible litigation); participants should clarify such policy upfront.