Living In The USA: Visa, Insurance, SSN, and Taxes

Everything one needs to know before applying for a visa in the US

🕒 5 min read

Category: Miscellaneous

Tags: usa, visa, insurance

In this article, I explain and sum up everything one needs to know to apply for a J-1 visa in the US, in order to do an internship. Everything below is based on my experience and on the instructions I received.


Getting a J-1 visa for the US is a quite long process. First and foremost, a sponsor is required. The most popular sponsor of J-1 visa programs is undoubtedly CIEE, a non-profit organization. But there are others.

CIEE has many partners throughout the world. A good one in France is Parenthèse. It is the one I decided to go with, since my internship company is used to working with them.

Parenthèse's staff is very professional and helpful. They guided me all along the entire process.

However, should you decide to deal with CIEE directly, with no intermediary, you will find everything you need at

If my memory serves, the procedure is as follows:


Getting a visa with CIEE as a sponsor is quite expensive, but there's a reason for that: they provide you with an insurance plan. Not the best for sure - not every expense is refunded and oftentimes you'll pay copays - but it's sufficient for most people. More information on their website.

Things to do upon arrival: SEVIS and Social Security Number

First, make sure to carry your insurance card and passport with visa with you at all times.

At the airport, you will be required to show the following documents:

Then, there are a few things to do in the next few days. In the correct order, these things include:

After you have applied, the Social Security office will provide you with a "Proof of Application" document. This receipt may enable you to receive paychecks and open a bank account. You should check the status of your application within seven to ten days of submission by visiting a social security office. In case of problem, call CIEE. Then the card will arrive by mail within a few weeks (3 tops, otherwise contact CIEE). This card will be valid for your entire life.

It is also advised to get a state ID card to avoid carrying your passport everywhere.

Likewise, opening a bank account could be useful and sometimes necessary to get paid.

You should notify CIEE of any change in US home address, phone number or email address within 10 days of the change.

During your internship, you'll get two online evaluations to complete, one at mid-point and one at the end of the program. Your supervisor will get online evaluations to complete too. Should there be a problem (you or your supervisor didn't get the emails about the evaluation, for example), email CIEE at

Trips outside of the USA

If you intend to go out of the USA temporarily, call CIEE at least 3 weeks prior to your departure. You will have to do some paperwork and CIEE will need to countersign your DS-2019. Each trip cannot exceed 30 days.


I haven't got to do it yet. I'll update this article once done. In the meantime, this article from Parenthèse could be useful.

That's it for now! Hope it was helpful.