Teach USA

Take your teaching career to the next level with the Teach USA program. Teach USA provides experienced foreign educators with the opportunity to explore a new educational and cultural environment through full-time teaching positions in the United States.

Participants gain exposure to American teaching methods while host schools bring a fresh perspective and valuable viewpoints into U.S. classrooms.

Cultural Vistas can sponsor qualified individuals for full-time paid teaching positions at accredited K-12 schools where a need for educators exists.

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What We Offer

As a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program sponsor, Cultural Vistas is responsible for administering exchange programs in compliance with the U.S. Department of State’s public diplomacy goals and visa requirements.

Once individuals secure a teaching position or host schools identify individuals they wish to bring to the United States, our staff provides assistance and services to both parties.

  • J-1 Visa sponsorship (up to three years) for qualified individuals for full-time paid teaching positions at accredited K-12 schools where a need for educators exists
  • Flexibility to sponsor programs from most countries in most fields
  • Issuance of the “Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 Visa” (Form DS-2019) to successful applicants
  • Options for expedited service guaranteeing completed applications are evaluated in five business days
  • Host organization and applicant vetting
  • Comprehensive health and medical insurance
  • 24-hour emergency support for participants and host schools
  • Cultural and educational activities and networking events in select cities
  • Access to free tax software for participants

What’s Included

  • J-1 Visa sponsorship necessary to teach in the United States for up to three years
  • Medical evacuation and repatriation insurance coverage (optional comprehensive medical insurance coverage is also available)
  • 24-hour emergency support for participants and host schools
  • Program monitoring through a dedicated client relations team and regular evaluation
  • Ongoing guidance throughout your program, including an annual professional development opportunity, which can help teachers to fulfill the cultural exchange requirement of the J-1 Visa.

Eligibility

  • Non-U.S. citizen with minimum two years of full-time teaching experience at K-12 schools outside of the U.S.
  • Meets the qualifications for teaching in primary or secondary schools in his or her country of nationality or previous legal residence
  • Must, at a minimum, possess the equivalent of a four-year university degree
  • Satisfies the teaching standards of the U.S. state in which he or she will teach
  • Formal written offer from a U.S. primary or secondary school to a candidate
  • English proficiency (as determined by online interview)
  • Seeks to come to the United States for the purpose of teaching full-time, and share their culture, in an accredited primary or secondary school
  • Is of good reputation and character

Costs

Program Fees

3 to 12mo.$1,750
12 to 24mo.$2,575
24 to 36mo.$3,400
Standard SEVIS Fee$180
Optional Health Insurance$70/month

Other Fees

Dependents Processing$500 (regardless of number of dependents)
Travel Validation$30
DS-2019 Replacement$100
Expedite Fee$500

If a teacher is found ineligible for the program, Cultural Vistas will reimburse all but $500 of program fees paid. If teacher is approved for the program but denied a visa by the U.S. Embassy, program and SEVIS fees will be deemed non-refundable.

How to Apply

Applications will open for the coming school year on April 1st of each year. Complete applications (from teacher and host school) need to be received no later than July 15th . Applications will be closed after that date.

Teachers should begin at the beginning of the academic year in August or September, but may be considered during the school year under special circumstances.

Request an Application

Program Details

Participant Responsibilities

  • The duration of each teaching program is determined by the host school
  • Programs can last up to three years. The State Department may consider an extension beyond maximum time allowed for an additional two years (for a maximum of five years)
  • Upon completion, participants must return to home country to fulfill the exchange, and may not return to the United States on a J-1 for teachers for at least two years
  • Applicants may request authorization for dependents to accompany them to U.S. (spouse or children under 21 years of age)

 


Host School Information

Cultural Vistas is designated by the U.S. Department of State as a J-1 visa sponsor for Teacher programs. Cultural Vistas primarily sponsors teaching programs in private schools throughout the United States.

Opportunities to teach in a public school exist, but are decided on a case-by-case basis. Public schools that wish to host a Teach USA participant must contact Cultural Vistas.

Requirements

  • Program Duration: Teachers are expected to start their program at the beginning of the school year. The duration of each teaching program is determined by the host school and can be for 1, 2, or 3 school years. The program cannot exceed three years without special permission from the Department of State.
  • School: The school must be a public school (including public charter schools) or a private accredited primary or secondary school offering a position in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade. Schools may offer teaching positions in pre-kindergartens if they  are part of a regular course of study in an accredited language-immersion K-12 institution.
  • Written Offer: The primary or secondary school in the United States must make a formal, written offer to the international candidate regarding the teaching position. (Schools must provide a copy of this offer as part of the application)
  • Salary: The U.S. school must pay the international candidate a salary comparable to what an American teacher with the same qualifications would receive, and teachers must be paid directly by the host school. If teaching benefits do not include comprehensive health insurance coverage, participants must enroll in another insurance plan, with the option of enrolling in Cultural Vistas’ health insurance plans.

Interested in Becoming a Host?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the J-1 Visa for Teachers?

There are 14 categories of the J-1 Visa, and “teacher” is one of them. This cultural exchange visa is used to allow foreign teachers with at least two years of experience to teach in an accredited primary or secondary school in the United States for up to 36 months.

What is the Certificate of Eligibility (DS-2019) document?

This is a legal document which is issued by Cultural Vistas as a designated sponsor of the J-1 visa under the authority of the U.S. Department of State.

The Certificate of Eligibility is the document that entitles and authorizes a foreign national to take a temporary, paid teaching position in the United States through the Exchange Visitor program.

The Certificate of Eligibility is null and void if the exchange visitor does not obtain a J-1 visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for entry to the United States. The application for the J-1 visa can only be made after the Certificate of Eligibility has been issued, and application must be made through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas (preferably in the applicant’s home country).

What is Cultural Vistas' role in the J-1 visa process?

Cultural Vistas has been designated as an “Exchange Visitor Program” sponsor by the U.S. Department of State, which means that Cultural Vistas is responsible for reviewing the participant and host organization applications to ensure that they meet the criteria established by the U.S. government for this visa.

Unlike other visas, Cultural Vistas acts as the legal visa sponsor of the participant for the duration of the program in the United States. The participant is the individual who is coming to the U.S. on an Exchange Visitor Program and the host organization is the school district that will be providing a teaching position to the participant.

Can applicants change status to a J-1 visa?

The J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, which means that applicants must show ties to their home country. If an applicant is currently in the U.S., Cultural Vistas requires him or her to return to the home country. Cultural Vistas will not issue any documents to someone who is in the United States. He or she must leave the country to apply for a J-1 visa.

What documents will Cultural Vistas issue to participants?

Cultural Vistas will issue three important documents.

The first document is a Certificate of Eligibility (Form DS-2019), issued to the participant after Cultural Vistas reviews the participant and host organization applications, and agrees to sponsor the teaching program.

Cultural Vistas also issues a receipt of payment for the mandatory SEVIS fee.

Letter for Social Security Office for ease of process.

What must I do when I arrive in the United States?

Participants must contact Cultural Vistas here to confirm the date of arrival, and must provide Cultural Vistas with the current residential address, telephone number and e‐mail address within 5 days of arrival.

Cultural Vistas must confirm arrival with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) within 30 days of the date listed in line #3 of the Form DS‐2019, otherwise Cultural Vistas will be forced to withdraw sponsorship.

Participants who do not have a Social Security number will need to apply for one in order to be added to the host employer’s payroll. See www.ssa.gov for information about applying for a Social Security card. Make sure to bring proof of identity and the Form DS‐2019.

On the first day of the J‐1 program, the participants will be asked to complete an I‐9 form and W‐4 form in order to enroll in the host employer’s payroll. Make sure to bring the Form DS‐2019. Your I‐94 can be obtained at cbp.gov/I94. Please see instructions herein for tax information.

What documents must I keep with me?

Participants should always carry their I‐94 record and the Form DS‐2019. The I‐94 is the document that confirms participants have legally entered the United States. The Form DS‐2019 is the document that confirms that participants are in the United States legally on a J‐1 Visa, and entitled to be at a workplace on a J‐1 program. Therefore, it is important that participants have both documents with them at all times so they can prove they are legally in the United States on a J‐1 Visa.

Why is it recommended for applicants to register with Cultural Vistas' partner organizations?

Our partner organizations provide our international applicants with additional services, such as: assistance with the J-1 visa process; in-country representation of Cultural Vistas to verify credentials and identity; assistance with tax status while abroad; and assistance with the U.S. consular office in the exchange visitor’s home country.

These partners also provide Cultural Vistas with assistance in communicating with participating host schools. Many of the partner organizations provide services that allow the applicant to remain in compliance with J-1 visa regulations.

Do I need a Social Security number in order to begin teaching?

No. Participants can be added to their host organization’s payroll without a Social Security number. They can show the receipt of having applied for the card, and the host organization will be able to use a “temporary number” to enroll them on the payroll until they receive their social security card with actual number.

Does my host organization have to pay me overtime?

Not necessarily. Overtime is usually earned after 40 hours per week, and it is typically earned at 1‐1/2 times base rate of pay.

There are two types of positions in the United States: “exempt” or “non‐exempt.” Anyone deemed an “exempt” employee will earn a set wage to perform a particular job, while a “non‐exempt” employee earns a wage for the actual time they work. The determination is based upon the position, not the individual.

Therefore, in a J‐1 program, if a position held by a U.S. employee is considered “exempt,” then J‐1 participants in that same position will be considered “exempt,” and so on in the case of “non‐exempt” positions.

U.S. organizations are not required to pay overtime to “exempt” employees. On the other hand, participants who are considered “non‐exempt” are eligible for overtime. Determination of overtime varies by organization and by state.

Does the organization have to provide the participant with paid vacation or paid sick leave during the program period?

No. U.S. organizations are not legally required to offer their employees any leave with pay, including vacation and sick time. Therefore, U.S. organizations are not legally required to offer J‐1 participants any type of leave with pay.

Participants are subject to the leave policies of their specific host organizations. In most cases, participants will have to “earn” paid vacation and sick time. That is, participants will be eligible for paid leave only after spending a certain period of time with the host organization.

As a guide, in the United States, new employees typically earn one to two weeks of vacation in their first year of employment. Therefore, participants should not expect any more than two weeks of vacation during their program period in the United States.

How do I use the health insurance that Cultural Vistas provides?

Participants should always carry the health insurance card with them. If participants are in an accident or need medical attention unexpectedly, they will need to show proof of coverage under a health insurance policy. Except in potentially life threatening medical emergencies, clinics, doctors, and hospitals will ask to see the health insurance card before treatment is administered.

Procedures for payment of medical treatment vary, but participants should expect to have at least some out‐of‐pocket costs for each medical treatment they receive.

Please note that pregnancy is not covered by the Cultural Vistas health insurance policy. Any pregnancy-related medical expenses would be incurred at the expense of the participant and/or spouse.

Can I travel outside the United States during the teaching program?

Participants may travel outside of the United States during the teaching program for up to 30 consecutive days. Before they travel, participants must send the Form DS-2019 and pay a $30 fee to Cultural Vistas for travel validation. The signature confirms that the participant continues to be sponsored by Cultural Vistas, and they should be allowed to re-enter at the border when returning. The signature is valid for one year. When possible, Cultural Vistas asks the participant to submit the DS-2019 for travel validation at least 3 weeks prior to intended travel.

You must have a valid multiple entry visa in your passport to re-enter the United States. If you have a single entry visa, or if your visa has expired, contact Cultural Vistas well in advance of your trip so that necessary documentation can be provided.

It is important for participants to make sure they can enter Canada or Mexico without a visa. Remember that the J-1 visa is only valid for the United States. And, while U.S. citizens do not need a visa to visit Canada or Mexico, the participant’s home country may have separate visa requirements for travel into Mexico or Canada.

Can I extend my teaching program?

The maximum time allowed on the J-1 visa for teaching is 36 months. Please note that Cultural Vistas charges a fee to extend a program, and requires submission of a plan for the extension period of the program. The extension approval period may take 2-3 weeks, therefore please plan accordingly to apply for an extension in advance of the original program end date. Please contact Cultural Vistas at teach@culturalvistas.org for information on how to request an extension.

Can I change my teaching location?

Not without pre-approval from Cultural Vistas. Information about participants’ teaching location is listed on their Form DS-2019. Applicants enter the United States to teach at a specific location, and will not able to change locations unless the host employer’s application stated that your teaching would include more than one location. If financial or other conditions with the host employer change dramatically during the program, participants must contact Cultural Vistas to determine if arrangements can be made to allow them to secure a teaching position at a different site. However, as the visa sponsor, only Cultural Vistas can make a decision on a change in teaching location.

It is important to remember that participants can legally earn a wage only at the host employer listed on the Form DS-2019. Substantial penalties exist for both the employer and the participant if the participant is not legally authorized to earn a wage at that employer.

How long can I stay in the United States after the teaching program?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) currently allows individuals to legally remain in the United States for 30 days after the end date indicated on their DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility). It is very important to comply with this regulation. If a participant’s program ends before the end date indicated on the DS-2019, he or she should contact Cultural Vistas. Anyone who remains in the United States beyond their legal status, even for one day, is subject to stiff penalties if the individual ever wants to return to the United States.

Can I stay in the United States as a tourist after my teaching program?

Yes, if granted permission by the U.S. government. To travel around the United States for more than 30 days after a J-1 program has been completed, apply to the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status to a B1/B-2 Visitor’s visa. This will allow the participant to extend his or her stay in the United States. The participant must apply for this change of status before the last day of his or her program that is noted on the Form DS-2019.

Please note that the participant cannot remain on the payroll of his or her host employer beyond the last day of the teaching program that is noted on the Form DS-2019. Substantial penalties exist for both the participant and the employer if he or she is not legally authorized to earn a wage at that employer.

Can I change status from a J-1 visa to another visa, such as an H-1B visa, at the end of the program?

The J‐1 Visa is a non‐immigrant visa, which requires that the teacher not reside in the U.S. for two years following their J-1 visa end date.

As part of Cultural Vistas’ sponsorship, the participant and host employer sign the obligations and responsibilities form confirming that the participant does not intend to abandon his or her non-immigrant status.