Participant Departures to the U.S.
By: Lily Zhou, EachFuture Cultural Network Work and Travel Partner
In their fifth blog post, Chinese partner, EachFuture Cultural Network, describes how their participants depart for the Work and Travel Program in the United States with CCI Greenheart. Be sure to see how their process continues as EachFuture describes their Journey of a Partner.
Departures to the United States
The majority of our Summer Work Travel (SWT) Chinese participants travel to the U.S. during the first or second week of June, due to their DS start dates. Before their departure date, they are usually excited and uneasy because of the unknown, and for some of them, this is the first time they have been abroad. This means that our work needs to be very detailed and comprehensive, so that they feel safe and comfortable while traveling. Every staff member of the SWT team has traveled to other countries before, so we are familiar with all of the procedures at the airport, and with American customs. To ease their nerves, we like to share our personal experiences with them.
Before our participants travel in groups to the U.S., our staff goes to the Beijing International Airport to say goodbye to them. Most of our participants are not from Beijing, so they travel to the airport alone, without their parents. Usually, they take trains to Beijing because it is cheaper than flying. When they arrive in Beijing we meet them at the airport, help them check-in, review all of the documents they have, and emphasize what they need to pay special attention to while traveling and arriving to the U.S.
SEVIS Validation and Obtaining I-94
Upon their arrival to the U.S., the first thing that we tell our participants to do is validate their SEVIS. Before they travel to the U.S., they receive detailed instructions on how to validate their SEVIS online, by phone, or by email. Throughout the month of June, we continually remind them to validate.
Also, we tell them to obtain their I-94 number online, before they go to apply for their social security cards. Since last year, the participants don’t need to fill out I-94 forms on the plane, which has made things easier and more convenient. In the past, we had some participants forget to return their I-94 forms when they arrived back to China, and it took a lot of work to return the forms to American customs.
Arrival to the U.S.
Some employers arrange to pick up participants at the airport, and some don’t. We require that our students email their employers before they travel to the U.S., so they know what to do when they arrive, and their employers know their itinerary and can prepare for their arrival.
We require that our participants report to us upon their arrival to the U.S. The first two weeks that participants are in the U.S. are generally their most challenging weeks. Almost everything and everyone is new to them; they face culture shock, language barriers, and even sometimes job and housing changes. Some participants even get emotional and homesick, so we comfort them. After the first two weeks, they usually get used to their life in America.
Now, most of our participants have arrived in the United States. We hope that they have a wonderful experience and a happy summer vacation!
Be sure to watch EachFuture’s video below!