Work & Travel USA





2014/5 Season Launches!

We apologise for the late launch of the Winter Work & Travel USA program 2014/15 season.  Due to changes in visa regulations and the short availability allowable for South Africans to work in the US over their summer vacation, we’ve held off launching the 2014/5 season until placement were confirmed!

We’re happy to announce now that we have secured a number of positions and that we’ll be focusing ONLY on ski resort areas in Colorado. As a result positions are LIMITED in number. Check out the placement tab for details of those jobs and apply now.  All positions are casual but come with great perks.  Working and Traveling in the USA is a unique opportunity to gain international work experience (whether that’s career related or casual), meet and work alongside people from all over the world as well as travel and experience the good ‘ole US of A!

This incredible work opportunity will allow you to add invaluable work experience to your CV, but just as importantly, provide you with a real chance to experience LIFE whilst living and working in the USA.  During your trip you will have the opportunity to branch out, become independent, perhaps learn to budget, network and meet people from around the world, gain some great work and life experience and have an adventure we are sure that you will never forget!


Applicants for Winter Work Travel USA must:

  • Be a full-time tertiary student at an accredited college or university.  Graduating students studying for the full year prior to application also qualify for the program.  Part time or short course students unfortunately do not qualify.
  • Be aged between 18-27 years.
  • Have no criminal record.
  • Be a valid South African Passport holder or Non-South African with a study permit for South Africa.
  • Have sufficient funds to pay for program fees, flights and all additional costs.
  • Be independent and self-motivated. You will be required to engage pro-actively in the application process, as well as research your travels and job position fully.  It is vital to understand that living and working in a new country will be challenging at times and is a learning and life experience, not simply a holiday.

Season & Duration

The J1 visa is valid only for the period of your summer vacation break from varsity (irrespective on whether you plan to return to studies or are graduating).  The US government has confirmed that for South Africa the work period allowed can run from 30th October to 15th February. **

Graduating students will then be allowed to take up additional travel for up to 30 days.

** Please be aware that this date limitation is a new regulation passed by the US Department of State and will impact the employers who wish to hire South Africans (Ski Resort positions will be VERY limited since many only hire staff available through April).

Why Do Work & Travel USA?

Students’ head over to the USA on a work travel adventure for lots of different reasons. Everyone has a different motivation.There are more than 200,000* unemployed graduates in South Africa and an increasingly competitive job market globally. Maybe you want to work hard and gain valuable international work experience and check out options for US Internships after graduation. Or maybe your aim is simply to kick back a little, have fun, travel and see as much of this amazing country as possible. Whatever your goal, you will certainly gain valuable work and life experience as well as having the adventure of your life!  Now is the time to stop dreaming and to start doing!

The Chilli Adventures’ Team has been successfully running the Work & Travel Program to the USA for more than 14 years.  In this time we have sent thousands of South African students to the US to have a summer vacation that they will never forget!  Chilli Adventures is still the largest and most clued up company for Work Travel to the USA.

Job Placement

The US Department of State oversees the sponsorship of the J1 visa and regulations around this.  Currently, it is a requirement for all participants coming from South Africa have an approved job secured prior to visa sponsorship being issued.

Whilst you DO have the option to find employment yourself prior to securing visa sponsorship through Chilli, doing so is very tough for most people in this current economic environment, and given the short period that South African Students are permitted to work.  A job secured through Chilli Adventures is a convenient and hassle free way to go.

Each year, through various J1 visa sponsors, Chilli Adventures seeks to secure a range of quality seasonal positions that match the typical date range consistent with SA Universities and Colleges.  All positions are compliant with the US Department of State regulations and most come with housing and transportation options secured.  Most are casual and entry level , requiring little or no experience, just hard work and good customer service skills.

Current Positions Available

Various employers will come on board to hire through Chilli Adventures between April and October each year so this list is currently changing as we progress through the season.

The GREAT news for the 2014/15 season is that we have a small number placements in ski resort areas!  Spots are VERY limited so if you’re dead set on a ski placement get in quickly on these.  If you are already registered with Chilli you’ll be able to access the full outline of  placements from your online participant portal.

Please be aware that for any placement you MUST be available for the date range outlined and qualify in terms of the specific skills required.  Positions are limited and allocation for interview slots is on a ‘first come first served’ basis.  To avoid disappointment be sure to 1. Check you qualify for the program 2. Submit your details online 3. Email your CV through to and 4. Pay your R950 application deposit (be sure to use your name as a reference so we know its you!).  Once received we’ll contact you to set up an interview.



JOB TITLE – Housekeeper (13 Positions with housing); Busser (3 Positions – no housing)
WORK DATES – Start date: 20th November & End date: 1st – 15th February
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS – Flexible schedule, must be able to work on weekends & holidays
BRECKENRIDGE FACTS – Breckenridge is an all-season recreation and vacation destination. The mountains come alive in the winter with world-class skiing. Winter activities also include snowshoeing, ice-skating, sleigh rides & snowmobiling. Winter carnivals, festivals & events are plentiful.
HOURLY PAY RATE – $10/hour. OT $15/hour (40 hours & over) HOUSING – Apartments for 2, 3 or 4 people
COST OF HOUSING – $450-$395



JOB TITLE – Food Service Worker (2 Positions), Housekeeper (2-3 positions)
WORK DATES – Start Date: 19-20th Nov to 15th December. End Date: Feb 15th
AVERAGE # OF HOURS – 35-40 average hours/week (after orientation & training)
ESTES PARK FACTS – Its the most popular tourist destination in Colorado and is renowend for its downhill skiing. For additional info
HOURLY PAY RATE – $4.50/hour OT rate $12.00/hour



JOB TITLE – Food Service Worker, Housekeeper (2 Positions); Housekeeper (2-4 Positions)
WORK DATES – Start Date: 20th Nov – 15th Dec.  Earliest End Date: Feb 15th
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS – 35-40 hours/week (After orientation & training)
SNOW MOUNTAIN RANCH FACTS – Located 8800 feet above sea level for a great skiing experience. There is also a number of hot springs to relax in after a hard days work. For additional info
HOURLY PAY RATE – $4.50/hour OT $12.00/hour

Hiring Events

For the past 5 years, Chilli Advenetures has held incredibly successful Job Fairs in Cape Town & Johannesburg, hosting top employers from the USA.  Increasingly however, employers are choosing to interview over Skype and so Chilli set up formal interviews over video skype with prospective candidates.  These are short and fairly painless, but are no less important than a face-to-face interview.  We’ll coach you through the process but it means putting on your best interview clothes and being ready to impress!  That means freshly shaved with jacket and tie for the boys, neat hair and shirt/blouse and jacket for the girls.  Since its a skype interview slip slops and tackies are fine (they’ll never know!).

Interviews will typically happen toward the end of September or early October and you’ll find out within a day or two if you’ve been hired. Check out details of the positions available but don’t delay, positions are limited.  These are terrific options for employment and all come with good wages, housing and excellent perks.  Positions will be offered on a first come, first served basis to those eligible (based on dates of availability) and appropriateness for the positions.  Your Job Placement fee is only payable to Chilli Adventures once you are offered and accept a position on the day of the fair.

To secure an interview slot, complete your application today or email us at

Independent Job Search

Whilst you are able to secure your own job, US State Department regulations require that you still apply through an accredited recruiter and J1 Visa Sponsor such as Chilli.  Please be aware that we are required to vet your employer against strict US government regulations.  Securing your own employment takes time, effort and persistence and it’s often only possible for those who have contacts in the USA.  Remember that if you plan to look for and secure your own position you need to have this confirmed prior to being issued with visa sponsorship through Chilli Adventures and getting your visa granted.  At the point that you confirm your Self Placement Application with Chilli you have a signed job contract or offer of employment in hand.  You should aim to have this confirmed by the end of September at the latest to avoid a last minute panic.

Advice on finding your own position

  1. Put together a concise appropriate CV (1 page) and cover letter confirming that you have sponsorship for a J1 visa, and the dates you are available to work.
  2. Send this out to the various employers you hope to secure a job with.  Be sure to use the name of a Human Resource Director if possible, and tailor the cover letter to be specific to the employer.  Do NOT send out bulk mails to hundreds of different employers with your CV attached!  Most employers get dozens of emails every day. So, don’t get offended if you don’t get a reply straight away. Save a draft of your original email and resend it a week or two later.  Recognize that many employers wont start hiring casual staff until September – October, so if you are unlikely to get responses back earlier.  Get your CVs sorted and ready to go when you have time earlier in the year.  That way as exams approach all you’ll need to do it send out your emails.
  3. Check out the following links* for some popular online job directories.  There are plenty more if you search on Google.

* Please note that Chilli Adventures do not have relationships with these companies and cannot be held responsible for the information given or positions outlined.

How do I apply?

To apply for the Winter Work & Travel program to the USA, simply follow these easy steps:

  • Do your research on all aspects of the program to understand eligibility, costs and the nature of what the program entails.  Be sure to read the Program T’s & C’s  for the breakdown of EVERYTHING (its quite an entertaining read so don’t be put off that its the small print!)
  • If you need more info and want to chat to someone in person then join us for one of our Skype Group Info Sessions.  We hold these a couple times a week so you can dial in and join us from wherever you are in the country and chat to others that plan on going too.  For more info on dates check out our Facebook page or email
  • Apply online and agree to Program T’s & C’s and receive your Application Pack containing additional documentation that must be completed and your program fee invoice
  • Pay your application deposit R950 (use your full name as a reference).
    (Note: Application deposits are refunded in full if you are not accepted onto the program by Chilli.  If you chose to cancel following payment the application deposit is non refundable)
  • Attend an interview with a Chilli Adventures program co-ordinator in your local area, or over Skype.  Your acceptance will be confirmed at your interview
  • Submit additional documentation including CV, Student Status Form, Reference and Medical form.
  • Attend Chilli’s GAC (Get a Clue Session) for information on visa application, job placements and hiring fairs
  • Book your flight and get your visa granted
  • Attend Chilli’s Winter Work & Travel USA pre-departure meetings, co-sponsored by Cape Union Mart

Note: A great deal goes into the application process to ensure that you are accepted by the J1 sponsor and placed with an appropriate employer.  You’ll need to stay on top of submitting your paperwork and work with Chilli Adventures to secure a position.

Terms & Conditions

The Winter Work & Travel USA – Program Agreement 2014/5 will be available on your Online Chilli Participant Portal Account once you sign up.  You can also request a copy by emailing

Program Costs – 2014/15 Season

The full fees payable to Chilli Adventures for Work & Travel USA (includes all overseas visa sponsors and placement agents) are as follows:

  • Application Deposit – R950 – Payable prior to interview.  Fully refunded if not accepted onto the program
  • Program Fees – $720 – Payable following acceptance and prior to US Employer interviews.  Fully refundable if you are not placed
  • Chilli Job Placement – $510 – Payable following confirmation of job placement and prior to issuance & shipping of Visa Sponsorship paperwork and US Travel Insurance.

* See FULL PROGRAM PACKAGE for whats included in your program fees.

*  Chilli Internship Rate – A Chilli Intern is someone who works closely with Chilli through the season on a range of projects.  These could include any aspect of the business (accounts to systems, marketing to promotions, HR to general management and administration).   If selected as a Chilli intern you will not only gain great work experience with the company but will also receive a preferential rate on your program fees.  If you’re interested, send your CV to and let us know why you’d benefit from being an intern with Chilli and what you could bring to Chilli Adventures. 


The full fees payable to Chilli Adventures for Work & Travel USA (inc. all overseas visa sponsors and placement agents) are as follows

  • Application Assistance – Eligibility screening,  full application and job interview support and guidance through the program process
  • CV Formatting and Job interview training & support – know your own personal brand and get skills and tips on how to ACE any interview!
  • Visa Sponsorship –  DS-2019 visa sponsorship allowing you to apply for a J-1 work visa
  • Job Placement – and employment package inc. accommodation and other perks.  Full package will be outlined ahead of job confirmation.  Check out the placement option page for positions available right now!
  • US SEVIS Fee – (Student and Exchange Volunteer Information System) $35 fee and SEVIS Validation service in the USA
  • US Visa Application  – inc paperwork review and interview assistance
  • US Medical Insurance – comprehensive travel insurance for the period of your stay in the USA
  • Pre-Departure Support – inc guidance on job interviews, visas, CV formulation, job placements as well as travel, housing and life in the USA
  • Pre-Departure Orientation Meeting – covering all essentials vital to a successful trip including SEVIS validation, immigration processes, social security application, packing, insurance and US Overseas support
  • Partner Discounts –  flights, SIM cards, merchandise and more
  • 24 Hour Emergency Help & Support – In South Africa & the USA
  • Tax Claim Assistance – Claim back your hard earned cash – we’ll show you how
  • Internship – Job search support and options for internships upon return to South Africa
  • Program reference – Program reference & evaluation

Additional Costs

In addition to the program fees that you pay to Chilli Adventures, you must also factor in the following additional costs:

  • Return flight to the USA (approx. R9,000-14,000)
  • US Consulate visa processing Fee ($160)
  • Additional insurance if required to stay & travel longer (approx. $30)
  • Spending money for use upon arrival (approx. $900-$1200)

* Prices subject to change in line with third party. Please read the Winter Work & Travel Program Agreement for full details.

Expected Earnings

Your J1 working visa will allow you to work during your trip and depending on how many hours you put in, look at covering the costs of your travels or even make some extra cash for travel.  Most people cover their program and travel related costs but this will depend on how many hours you work, the exchange rate at the time and of course, your living (and entertainment!) expenses amongst other things.  You must be prepared to supplement your living expenses should the need arise.  If you work at a second job (which your visa allows) it’s possible to make some very decent money.

Wages vary depending on the location of the position, and what’s included in the position (for example, subsidized housing / meals etc.)  You will never be paid less than federal minimum wage at $7.75 per hour.  Typically wages are between $5-6 per hour (for tipped positions) and $8.50 – $14 per hour (for non-tipped position).  Remember to understand the full compensation package rather than simply the hourly wage since some employers pay a low wage (e.g. $4 per hour) but then provide all meals and housing for free.  A package like that is worth its weight in gold since you have NO expenses and you can chose to save (or spend!) anything you earn!

Cost of Living

You must take over to the USA start up funds of between $900-$1500, since you will need to cover the cost of your own accommodation, and perhaps housing deposits (if not paid prior to departure from SA) as well as food and travel until you receive your first pay cheque.  Some employers may supply accommodation. Most have staff canteens and offer various discounts that help significantly, particularly in this first month.  If you’ve never budgeted before, you’ll learn this skill very quickly upon arrival!  Picking up those fabulous discounted Jimmy Choo’s or iPad should only happen AFTER you get your first pay cheque!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I go if I’m not currently studying?

A: Unfortunately not!  The program is only open to full-time students who are enrolled in tertiary education (post matric)

Q: It’s quite expensive when I add everything up.  Do most participants cover their upfront costs?

A: Most do, but simply making money is not the primary objective of the program.  The opportunity to gain valuable work and life experience and see the USA is the ultimate goal.  How much money you make will ultimately depend on how many hours you work, the exchange rate at the time and of course your living (and entertainment!) expenses, amongst other things.  The majority of participants earn enough money to cover the costs they have outlaid to get to the USA and live there.  If you work a second job, which most people do and especially if you make tips, it’s possible to make some very decent money.  The amount you bring back to South Africa will of course be affected by how much you party, shop, travel or work when you’re over in the US!  Having said all this – the value of the program lies not in what you earn but in what you learn!

Q: What will I do about somewhere to live?

A: Most employers hiring directly with Chilli Adventures offer some form of employee housing.  Your employer may subsidize the cost of housing but you are ultimately responsible for your housing costs.  If you are sourcing employment independently, you should enquire about housing in the local area once you’ve secured employment.  If employers don’t offer housing or employee housing is full, they can often point you in the right direction for the best affordable housing in the local area. The US also has a great network of hostels and cheap hotels and motels that can be affordable options.  Check out sites like (similar to Gum Tree) and local newspapers (these can be accessed online ahead of departure) for housing options.

BEWARE! Housing in some very popular areas (key ski resort locations for example) can be extremely scarce and very expensive.  Do your research prior to making a decision on where to work.

Q:  Can I take part in the program if I’ve just matriculated?

A: Unfortunately not.  You need to have at least one year of tertiary (post secondary) education behind you.  But if you’re headed to varsity next year then you can apply now for next season.  If you’re taking a gap year before varsity then the Summer Camp USA program or Teaching English in Thailand are excellent options (links to both programs).

Q: Is it possible to work at the same employer as friends?

A: Yes it is certainly possible. Let Chilli adventures know when you apply that you are part of a group and we’ll ensure that your applications are processed together.  Chilli Adventures placement employers often hire large number of students so it’s possible that they will hire a group of friends. Bear in mind however that it can be a turn off for employers to hear that you only want to go with your best friend so ensure you don’t make this a condition of accepting a position.

Q: How do I apply for my US Visa?

A: Following submission of your full application paperwork and payment of your program fees, Chilli Adventures will request your DS-2019 visa sponsorship from the relevant J1 sponsor agent in the USA.  We will guide you through the visa application process at our Get a Clue (GAC) Session and review both your visa application and supporting documentation ahead of your interview at the US Consulate.  Chilli Adventures have a 99% Visa granted record at the US Consulate so your visa is not something you need to stress about.  You’ll typically receive your Passport back 2-3 working days following your interview.  Easy!

Q: Am I covered if I have an accident whilst in the USA?

A: Yes.  Comprehensive Work and Travel insurance is provided as part of your program fees.  It is a US Department of State J1 visa requirement that your visa sponsor provides you with approved ‘A’ Graded insurance for the period of your visa.  This insurance includes medical, emergency and liability etc.   You will be provided with full insurance details at the Pre-Departure Orientation meetings held in October.  If you have a pre-existing condition (have received medical care within the last 6 months) please contact your local Chilli Adventures Program co-ordinator for advice as you may require additional coverage.  If you are traveling longer than 3 months you will need to extend your policy with Chilli Adventures ahead of departure from South Africa.

Q: Is it OK if I go alone?

A:  Yes no problem.  Many participants apply alone but then meet other participants as they go through the application process in South Africa. It’s easy to meet fellow adventurers once you’re on the program and you won’t be alone for long!  However, many people prefer to go solo as it allows them to meet more new people and have the experience that they really want.

If you’re worried about travelling alone, ask Chilli Adventures to put you in touch with others going from your University.  Chilli Adventures Facebook group is also a great place to meet new friends to travel with.