WAT Application 🇺🇸

By Jenn Lim - April 12, 2021

Work & Travel USA (WAT) is without doubt, one of the best ways to discover the USA. 

Managed by the US State Department, it gives students from around the world the opportunity to visit the USA to work and travel during their term break. The program gives you cultural exposure and international work experience.

It is a huge country, with many different places to visit and things to see, if join WAT you can actually travel in a very lowest budget compare to you go for only traveling, as you earning USD in past 3.5 months. 

USA timezone is totally different with Malaysia, we need at least 1-3 days to adjust our jet lag and weather adaption. So, for university student who have American dream go for a gap year and travel around USA with low budget, WAT is the best choice.


To be eligible to participate in Work & Travel USA, you must meet the following requirements:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Enrolled in a full time course at a state-recognised institution of tertiary education
  • Able to function in an English speaking working environment
  • Have a pre-arranged job and a minimum of US$800 available to support yourself upon arrival in the USA. (After register agent will guide no worry)
Work & Travel is available two seasons a year.

Summer : 25 May – 15 Sep + 1 month travel

Winter : 25 Nov – 15 Mar + 1 month travel

I choose go for winter because that time I need time to prepare for the money (As don't wish my parents sponsor or borrow me) and also I hope experience snow. Now after come back I have no regret as I still can experience spring at the end of my travelling in East USA. So if you ask me summer or winter, I would advice winter due to you have chance experience two season in once.

Oh ya you need prepare at least RM12k to RM15k before join this program, don't worry you will earn back after this, I will breakdown in the continue WAT working article regard the estimation earning of mine.

Let's go through how the application going on. 

#1 Choose An Agent

In Malaysia, there have 3 agents who you can apply through, which is OOTB, Speedwing and Infinity Abroad. Selected an agent that suitable your personality is important as you need their guidance from start to end of the whole journey.

My conclusion is, 

  • Choose OOTB if you are person who is independent, neat and able proactive keep track everything with agents from time to time.
  • Choose Speedwing if you are the person who don't wish to check everything and just hope agent provide "一条龙服务” so you no need worries anything.
  • Choose Infinity Abroad if you wish have more special choice on job selection, as this agent their employer list is way different with another 2 agents.

After compared, I select OOTB due to their price is cheapest (they have early bird discount around RM50 to RM100 if you register early). I know my personality is even have agent guidance, I will still follow up the things my own with them. So far for me OOTB service is quite good, even a lot of my friend said Speedwing better because they really just sit at there and agent gaodim everything. So as I said, just choose agent that suit you, there is nothing for good or bad.

Next, you may question me back, hmmm, can I go apply myself without through the agent? 

The answer is No. It's unlike New Zealand or Australia working holidays, USA Work And Travel, we need depend on USA local sponsor like CIEE, Geovision and Intrax who provided the employer list and help us throughout the whole journey in USA. Those sponsor they will only direct contact with your agents, but not personal. If you direct go for CIEE or Geovision, they will still ask you finding your own country authority agency.

#2 After Select An Agent, go their fb request fill application form

#3 Interview with agents,  initial payment & job selection (OOTB only other agent not sure)

After received your application form, before their interview, agent will email and request you to fill up enrolment form, resume form and remind request a student verification form from your school office.
Agent will call for a short interview to understand your english ability after everything done. 
Once interview done, you are request to do an initial payment RM400 to confirm your participation and this is non-refundable. If you get an early bird discount, the final overall payment will deduct another RM50. 

Payment done, you will get employer job listing from agent under the local sponsor of USA, either CIEE, Geovision or Intrax. 

My employer last time is under CIEE. This sponsor both is quite nice, they did provide you a card with all the details inside before departure, email follow up your working life when you are in USA and also provide guidance how to apply second job etc.

#4 Attend job interview via SKYPE (OOTB only other agent not sure)

The Tips how to select your desire jobs/employer: 
- Minimum Wages
- Position & Working Area
- Benefits  
- Second Job Opportunities

If you look for the desire employee, do not consider too long. As they are first come first serve basic, the job not only open for Malaysian but all the University Students around the world. Once position get filled, you need to re-select a new job. So action fast after you made the decision.

Don't panic, the interview just a very simple question and answer. I remember just like below:
1. Self-introduction
2. Why you choose working with us?
3. Why housekeeping? (ok cus i choose housekeeping last time)
4. What's the travel destination USA you love the most? Why?
5. How will you introduce Malaysia?

They will let you know the result on the spot, selected or rejected. (I think mostly selected 😆)

#5 Received Job Offer Form, Pay Balance Program Fee and Start DS-2019 Application (OOTB only other agent not sure)

After pass the interview, you will received a job offer form of your employer through email and request to filled the Beacon profile online to start DS-2019 Application. 

DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor status) is the legal document which will allow you to work as a Work and Travel USA exchange student and you will need this form to apply for your J1 visa. These forms are only issued by legal sponsors designated by the US Department of State. 

In this stage, you need pay your balance program fee in 3 week after get the job offer form, please inform agent if you wish do payment, they wish locked the USD rate for you. Below is my last time locked rate breakdown payment:

Currency rate (USD1 = RM 4.11 - 4.15)


Programme fee


SEVIS Fees  (USD35)


Visa fee**


Deduct initial paid


Deduct Early bird discount




After payment, agent will ask you scan and email them some important documents for DS-2019 and signed your Beacon profile online. Just follow their step will do.

#6 Visa Application - DS160  and schedule for visa Interview (OOTB only other agent not sure)

After your DS-2019 processed and approved, agent will start to email you regarding the step of visa application. You will need filled DS-160 online based on agent guidelines, they will help you schedule on visa Interview with US Embassy in Malaysia. Once the interview date and time is confirmed, you will received a notify email from agent.

#7 Visa Interview at USA Embassy (OOTB only other agent not sure)

On the day of interview, you are advice bring the documents below:
1.     Original Passport
2.     IC / Student ID / Driving license
3.     Original Transcript / Online results
4.     Original University letter
5.     Visa photo
6.     Signed Job Offer Form

Agent will bring for you DS160, DS2019, SEVIS & Visa Receipt on your day of Interview.

The interview question you will being asked, as below:

1. What is the reason you are travelling to the US? 
2. What will you be working as in the US? Why are you willing to take up such a job? 
3. Why are you going to the US? 
4. Where do you study? 
5. What you plan to do after returning from the USA? 
6. What does your father do? 
7. Why did you choose to study what you study? 
8. Why would you not stay on in the US? 
9. Do you have relatives or friends in the US? 

Do keep your answers short and real. Please do not voice out any information officer do not ask for.
I still remember the guy in front of me get rejected on his visa due to he answer something that let the officer suspect he will not be come back Malaysia after this program. 

There are 3 outcomes after your interview : 
1) If your visa approved, the officer will keep your passport for visa printing. 
2) If you are rejected, they will return your passport with a letter. 
3) If you are given a colored paper, it means your visa may take a few days to a few weeks for administrative clearance. This generally means that your visa has been approved, though the embassy may like to verify a few things. Sometimes, this also occurs if their computer system is down and does not get clearance from their central system immediately

For Visa Approval, your passport will be held at the US embassy and only released on the next working day for self collection at Aramex Main PJ office after 3pm or delivered to whichever address of your choice in 2 – 4 working days. 

#8 Pre-departure Orientation (OOTB only other agent not sure)

After interview session at US Embassy, you are required to attend the pre-departure orientation at OOTB office. In the pre-departure orientation, agent will brief you regarding all the important documents need bring to USA, if anything happen how to seek for help, how to get cheap flight ticket and plan your itinerary.

#9  Flight Ticket Purchase & Preparation 

This stage is the time you start spent money for everything.

Flight ticket you may seek for agents quotation or else like me find my own through google flight.
Due to my working place at Montana State, I did found the most cheapest multi-city flight is offer by KLM airlines. The flight cost us only RM4185 for two way, which is one way go (KUL-Amsterdam-Minneapolis-Bozeman), one way back (Chicago-Toronto-Amsterdam-KUL)

Me and my friends, we decided go to Amsterdam explore, that's why we choose 14 hours layover there for twice (when go and back.) 😝  I go Canada alone after done my WAT and I will blog in a separate post how to apply the Canada Visa and planning your trip at Canada.

Pre-departure preparation is one of the part which you need start spent your money. 

For the money I spent before departure, you may refer this link for the part Expense before departure (RM)

Hope all this info is useful for you, if you plan to go for Work And Travel USA in the future. 😊

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  1. Hi! just want to know if you able to cover all the travel expenses during the grace period?

    1. Hi, it depend on the hours u working OT and have second job or not. I am able to cover back everything with earning.

  2. Hello and good morning! If i may, can I ask, in total of the whole process from start of application to flying over to start work, how much time interval were there?

    1. Hi there, for last time, it's take me around 6 months from June to Nov start apply, get the job, visa interview, purchase flight ticket, until departure. If you decided go on summer the whole process duration should be Dec to May. Hope it clarify :)

    2. Hi Jenn, isn't Dec to May is winter time?

    3. Hi, I mean is Dec last year to May next year (Example: application start Dec 2022 to May 2023) for summer application. Summer program time is June to Oct yearly. Hope it clarify.

  3. Hello, was wondering if you have a post about the Canada Visa application as mentioned ? :)

    1. Hi yes. Kindly refer to this post, click the link I share.