General Summary of Fees:
It is important that you fully understand the financial components involved with your participation in the BridgeUSA Program before you accept a position and arrive in the U.S.
All ITES Exchange Teachers are required to act in a financially responsible manner while in the U.S. which includes understanding any and all fees, costs, taxes, insurance, payroll deductions and living expenses etc. they may incur. This includes any additional expenses involved with family members who may join you in the U.S. under J-2 dependent visa status.
Prior to accepting a position in the U.S. you will receive a Confirmation of Appointment Letter from your host school which will clearly show the gross annual salary in U.S. dollars that you will be paid.
We encourage you to use the information provided here to prepare and plan your finances accordingly prior to your arrival in the U.S. Many teachers will bring money with them to help with the initial expenses associated with their relocation, especially since you may not receive your first paycheck until the end of your first month of work.
You should also use the information provided here to estimate your net or “take home” pay so that you can make informed budgeting decisions when it comes to allocating your resources to decide how much you can afford for housing, transport and other everyday cost of living expenses.
Initial Direct Fees:
The following initial fees are paid directly by the teacher to the appropriate U.S. government agency as part of the visa application process:
- $220 - SEVIS Fee (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). This is a one-time only fee paid only by the J-1 visa applicant
- $160 - Visa Processing Fee paid to the US Embassy. This fee applies to all J-1 and J-2 visa applicants
Program Sponsorship Fees:
ITES does NOT charge teachers a sponsorship fee for participating in our program.
The ITES annual dependent sponsorship fee is $250 (per person) and is paid either by the school or the teacher. This responsibility will be noted accordingly in the ITES Visa Sponsorship Agreement.
Unless you are paid by your home government or home school, you will receive your pay directly from your host school in the U.S. As a regular employee of the school you will be required to pay certain taxes which are generally withheld from your pay. The exact amount of tax you will have withheld varies because of a number of factors: individual states have different tax rates, your specific tax rate may also vary depending on how much you earn and how many dependents you have.
As a rough guide you should expect to pay the following in federal and state taxes:
- Federal Payroll Tax - 10-15% (will vary by how much you earn)
- FICA (Social Security/Medicare - 7.65%
- State Payroll Tax - 6% (will vary by state)
There are many websites you can research to more accurately understand your tax obligation for example:
Be sure to understand any other work related expenses or deductions you may incur or be responsible for, if applicable, such as costs for state certification/licensure, state licensure exams, criminal background
checks, retirement benefits and union dues, etc.
Tax Exemption Status:
Some countries have tax treaties with the United States whereby some or all of your income is exempt from certain taxes for up to 2 years for first-time exchange visitor teachers. (Be sure to understand what your tax obligations would be after your exemption period expires). We have provided links to the following sites which may help with your research:
NOTE: ITES cannot legally provide you with tax or financial advice. The information provided here is to assist you in your research only. It is your responsibility to understand your U.S. tax obligation.
As a participant in the Exchange Visitor Program you are required to have health insurance which meets EVP requirements. Any J-2 dependents with you in the U.S. are also required to have adequate health insurance. Please click here to learn more about the federally mandated health insurance policy requirements for all exchange visitors and the options available to you.
Health insurance rates may vary by location, age, type of coverage selected and number of family members requiring coverage and could range from $80 - $150 per person per month. Before accepting a position and arriving in the U.S. you should consult with your host school and become fully aware of your health insurance provider and the total cost of your health insurance.
Cost of Living:
The following information is provided as a tool to help you plan and prepare for your arrival in the U.S. These monthly expenses are approximate only and can vary greatly by location, for example - living in a big city is generally more expensive than living in a smaller rural community. Also, the personal lifestyle decisions you make will affect how you choose to budget your resources.
- Automobile: $350 - $650
- Housing: $500 - $2000
- Utilities: $100 - $250
- Cell phone: $50 - $100
- Food: $200 - $450
- Clothing: $50 - $100
- Travel/ Entertainment - $ 100 - $200
The following links are also useful in determining the cost of living in the US, as well as compared to where you currently live:
NOTE: Prior to your arrival in the U.S. you will receive comprehensive ITES orientation materials which will have links to websites where you can research these expenses in more detail based on your where you will be living and working. Your host school will also be able to help you more accurately estimate these costs and will likely have information on local “teacher friendly” service providers available to you as part of their orientation process.