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General Summary of Fees

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
  • $185 - Visa Processing Fee paid to the US Embassy. This fee applies to all J-1 and J-2 visa applicants

Other Potential Fees:

The following fees may also be required as part of the ITES application process:

  • Criminal Background Check: If applicable, this may range from $50 - $250 and can depend on the jurisdiction in question and level of detail of the check required. 
  • Foreign Credential Evaluation (FCE): If you already have a FCE you may not need to order a new report. if you do however, it may cost between $150 - $350 depending on the evaluations company you choose to use and the number of credentials to be evaluated. (ITES has discounted rates with Spantran for ITES teachers and will provide the link upon request).

Program Sponsorship Fees:

ITES does NOT charge teachers a sponsorship fee to participating in our program. Nor do we work with any third-party recruitment or placement type entities. If someone ever asks you to pay a fee to participate in our program please report this to ITES immediately so we can provide you with the appropriate guidance.

The ITES annual dependent sponsorship fee is $250 (per person) and can be paid either by the school or the teacher. This responsibility will be noted accordingly in the ITES Visa Sponsorship Agreement.  

State Licensure / Certification / Examination Fees: 

State Teaching Licensure or Certification fees vary by state and may range from $75 to $125. In the event that a teacher is required to take additional licensing examinations, the teacher will usually be responsible for those costs which may range from $50 to $150 per examination. It is important that you check with your host school about any specific certification and/or examinations that they may require and confirm the exact costs involved (or reimbursements available) so you can budget accordingly.

Payroll Deductions:

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 your host 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 the following payroll deductions:

  • 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)
  • Retirement Contributions* (if applicable)
  • Union Dues* (if applicable)

* ITES Program participants, as international exchange visitors, are not generally required to make retirement contributions or pay union dues. However, it is important to fully understand your state or host school district’s contribution requirements for international teachers. Depending on the state you are working in, enrolling in retirement benefits may require a monthly contribution of 3% to 9% of your paycheck. Union dues may range from $200 per year to over $1200 per year. If you wish to join a union, please contact the specific union in your state to determine the exact costs.

There are many websites you can research to more accurately understand your tax obligation for example:

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 advice. The information provided here is to assist you in your research only. It is your responsibility to understand your U.S. tax obligations.

Health Insurance:

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

Childcare Cost Estimates:

Childcare is typically needed for children under five (below school age). Childcare in the U.S. can be expensive ranging from $200 to $1000 per week depending on the number of children requiring care, the ages of the children, the amount of time childcare is needed, as well as a number of other factors. Please contact childcare providers in your host school area to determine the exact cost of childcare if needed so you can budget accordingly. 

The following links are also useful in determining the cost of living in the U.S. 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.