COVID-19 updates for co-op students

  • Learn about changes to the Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 work term, including: 
    • Flexible pathways in place to help you complete your work term
    • Updated interview procedures
    • Current University travel policies
    • Resources to help you search for work in light of the current climate
  • Have you been asked to work remotely? We've put together six great tips to help you navigate this transition as a co-op student.
  • For other campus-wide announcements, visit the University's COVID-19 website.

USA work permit/J-1 visa

Update on USA visa restrictions due to COVID-19

On June 22, 2020, the US Government extended and expanded on previously-issued immigration restrictions to freeze several visa classes until the end of 2020, including the J-class visa. As this is a fluid situation with several implications and interpretations, we will continue to monitor advisories and seek counsel to determine what the impact may be to future work terms. We will update students and employers as we learn more.

As always, please continue monitoring the continue monitoring the Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 work term webpages for the most up-to-date information.

U.S. J-1 Cultural Exchange Visitors Status: Intern Category

Applies to most undergraduate students completing international work terms - called the U.S. J-1 Cultural Exchange Visitors Status.

Intern category:

The intern category is intended to “promote the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, sciences, and technology.”

If you’re a Canadian citizen, you can:

  • obtain a J-1 intern status without needing to be screened at a U.S. consulate prior to departure in most cases
  • proceed to the border crossing once your Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitors (J1) Status (DS-2019 form) has been received. No consulate appointment is required in this case

How to get your U.S. J-1 status

Please review the process for obtaining your USA J-1 Visa.

Your Certificate for Eligibility for Exchange Visitors (J1) Status (DS-2019 form) must be received through a designated J-1 sponsoring agency. Your employer is the host, not the sponsor.

Co-operative Education has two preferred sponsoring agencies, Cultural Vistas and Intrax. They will work with you and your employer throughout the year.

You will have to confirm with your employer which sponsoring agency you will use, to ensure you fill out the right application.

If you don’t have Canadian citizenship and you're either a permanent resident or an international student, you’re required to submit your Certificate of Eligibility to the nearest U.S. Consulate (Toronto) before travelling to the USA only after your sponsor has issued your DS-2019 form. The processing fee at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto is US$160 in addition to the J-1 application fees. There may be additional charges depending on your nationality.

Sponsoring organizations and fees

There is an administration fee for the sponsoring process. You and your employer will have to discuss who is responsible for paying the fee. If you’re responsible for paying the fees, check with your visa sponsor to determine the payment method.

If your employer is paying the fees, then check with them to ensure payment occurs on time, or you may not receive your DS-2019 form before your scheduled internship/work term.

We have relationships with these sponsoring organizations. Basic information is listed below. For more details on suitability for your business context, please contact the International Employment Specialist:

  • Cultural Vistas (preferred partner with special pricing for uWaterloo)
    • All inclusive application and processing fee (includes SEVIS fee):
      • US$1,020 for up to 4 months
      • US$1,020 for up to 8 months
      • Student is required to cover health insurance for the period; the university's FEDS/GSA Health Insurance plan might be accepted on a case-by-case basis
    • New employer fee: US$250
    • Processing time: four weeks
    • Training program: Available year-round for co-op undergraduate and graduate students
    • Co-op, regular, and graduating students for a four-to-twelve  month internship
  • Intrax (preferred partner with special pricing for uWaterloo)
    • All inclusive application and processing fee (includes SEVIS fee):
      • US$1,330 for up to 4 months
      • US$1,675 for up to 8 months
      • Student health insurance can be added for US$240 (4 month term) or US$480 (8 month term)
    • New employer fee (only applicable if you do not meet certain size and revenue requirements): US$250
    • Processing time: four weeks
    • Training program: Available year-round for co-op undergraduate and graduate students
    • Co-op, regular, and graduating students for a four to twelve  month internship
  • SWAP
    • All-inclusive application and processing fee
    • US$870 for up to 12 months
    • US$220 SEVIS fee
      • Student is required to cover health insurance for the period; the university's FEDS/GSA Health Insurance plan might be accepted on a case-by-case basis
    • No new employer fee
    • Processing time: four –six weeks
    • Training program: Available year-round for co-op undergraduate and graduate students
    • Co-op, regular, and graduating students for a four-to-twelve month internship

Travel health insurance for a work term in the USA

You might have to purchase additional coverage through the sponsor, as per the sponsor's guidelines. Please check directly.