Is this worth checking out?
July 14, 2009 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have experience with SWAP? (It's a Canadian work-abroad program for students that my boyfriend is currently considering, particularly for acquiring a work visa in the USA.)

I've found a thread on a forum mentioning that all SWAP does is basically lick the stamp for you, on official forms available elsewhere. Deflates the excitement balloon a bit, but then if they actually speed up the process somehow, that stamp licking could be worth it. Especially when getting a US work visa is quite the difficult affair otherwise.

As far as I understand it, the regular process would require you to have a sponsor/job lined up already, while SWAP makes the visa available with no such strings.

Hoping for some personal experiences!
posted by Bakuun to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
It looks like they specialize in working-holiday visas, which do not, normally, require a job/sponsor lined up in advance, because the work is meant to supplement funds for a holiday and is meant to be part-time. Think picking mangos in Australia or bartending in Britain. More from Wikipedia. Perhaps there's a different visa category you could investigate for the US?

And their US program isn't so expansive and also doesn't seem to lead to any kind of permanent's what SWAP offers -

Type of Work allowed:

* Your internship must be related to your studies


* Your traineeship has to be related to your most recent educational or professional activities, your studies + minimum 1 year work experience, or your work experience during the last 5 years
* If you do not have post-secondary education or if your education was in a field different than the one you want to train in, you should have at least 5 years full time working experience in your field
* Level of your knowledge and experience must be appropriate - for example a trainee with 5 years work experience in the field will train in different areas than a graduate with just 1 year work experience
* The idea is, that you will be learning new skills or enhancing existing skills during your traineeship, taking your career to the next level
* Your visa will be granted for one specific employer, no part time jobs on the side or no changing jobs. Changing traineeship is only possible in exceptional circumstances e.g. your host company will be closed down, non-compliance of the agreed training plan from the host company, etc. In such a case please contact CIEE who has to evaluate the situation and give the permission to any traineeship changes

The following fields of work are prohibited under this visa category: Teaching, Patient care, Diagnostics/medical interns, Work of any type - with children, Cruise lines, Airplanes, any position offered by temporary work agencies, Veterinary practitioners, Domestic workers, Camp Cousellors, Sports therapy/coaching, Fast food restaurants, Performing artists/entertainers, Guards, Construction work, Research Scholars (short research traineeships possible if it is actual training in research)

posted by mdonley at 11:00 AM on July 14, 2009

Hm, working-holiday visa doesn't sound like a bad option, if it'll let us spend a few months together. Though when you mention that it "doesn't seem to lead to any kind of permanent status," does this mean that an actual work visa contributes beneficially if he wants to become a permanent resident later on? Apologies for not being too keen on these things yet.
posted by Bakuun at 11:05 AM on July 14, 2009

Okay, I think I was just looking at their US summer program without delving too much into the internships. Reading through it, the whole deal does seem little more than an overblown internship finder. Oi.
posted by Bakuun at 11:13 AM on July 14, 2009

I used SWAP to live and work in Scotland a few years ago. The program itself did provide support in finding a job when I actually got there, and I think they also had meet-ups and things like that, which I didn't participate in. I think the main benefit was not feeling so alone in a foreign country, and I would say if you're at all tentative about how you'd function in that situation, they're a good safety net.
posted by odayoday at 11:15 AM on July 14, 2009

There is something called TN status, which allows certain Canadians with job offers to head to the States on a temporary-but-often-renewable basis. More here.
posted by mdonley at 11:23 AM on July 14, 2009

While IANAL, I am a Canadian who has studied and worked in the United States.

TN status is unlikely to help your boyfriend if he is looking for an internship/work-abroad type situation. But you never know. One thing he will certainly need for a TN is a college degree or significant experience in the field he hopes to work in.

It looks like SWAP helps you get a J1 visa, which is not (I gather, I've never been on one) that hard to apply for on your own. It is the kind of visa which "young people" tend to get, since you can be a camp counselor, au pair, etc. for a temporary period of time. Perhaps the benefit of SWAP is that it finds you an internship where the people are familiar with the paperwork *they* have to do in order to employ foreigners, which in other circumstances can be a significant barrier. So don't discount this too much!

One thing to worry about with J1 status is the two-year home country physical presence requirement. Certain kinds of J1s require you to not come back to the US to work for the following two years. Most likely, this will not apply to your boyfriend, but if it does it may be something to keep in mind.
posted by goingonit at 11:37 AM on July 14, 2009

Thanks guys, ultimately decided that this wasn't worth pursuing - minimal benefits.
posted by Bakuun at 1:35 PM on July 14, 2009

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