J1 USA Visa - Budgeting for Your Trip

J1 USA Visa - Budgeting

Budgeting for your trip

Before you go: While this is a work programme, you must come to the USA with enough funds to pay for your initial expenses and to support yourself until you receive your first pay cheque (which could take up to 2 wks.) There will be many set up costs, such as housing deposits, costs of uniforms, travel to employer expenses, etc. We recommend you have $900 if housing is provided by your employer and $1500 if no housing is provided.

  • Travelers checks are the best option - Traveler's checks MUST be in US dollars or they will be very difficult to cash. Traveler's checks can be used at almost any store, hotel, or restaurant.
  • Credit cards - A credit card is advisable as it is accepted in most stores in the USA and can provide emergency funds if something should go wrong.
When you arrive:

The following is an average of how much you can earn and how much you will need for housing, food and transportation while in the U.S.


Salary based on 40 hours/wk $800-$1200/month (many jobs also provide bonuses and tips)

  • You should budget for expenses that may may incur prior to receiving your first paycheck. These include: travel to employer, food, housing, housing deposit, transportation to and from work, temporary housing until you find permanent housing if your employer is not providing housing and money to support yourself should the weather delay your work start date.
Approximate budget:
  • Housing costs from $0-$500/month
  • Food costs from $150-$300/month
  • Transportation costs from $0-$40/month
  • Housing related deposits
  • Social Security Card delay - Independents whose employers will not pay wages without a Social Security number should have enough funds to cover expenses while they look for a job or wait for the Social Security number to be processed.

Please remember that these are only averages. If you work longer or shorter hours or if you choose to have a second job, your monthly income will increase or decrease proportionally. Hourly wages and housing costs will vary greatly depending on the employer and the location.

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