Keep in mind: you are not entering the United States on an ESTA, you are entering with your J1 Visa.
Your Flight to Camp
Depending on the country from which you are travelling, flights may be arranged for you, or you will have organized your own. If you are unsure about your flight arrangements then check the ‘Travel and Flights’ section of your Camp Leaders profile.
For flights organized by Camp Leaders, you will receive an email notification of your outbound flight, no later than 10 days before your travel date. Once you receive this email, go to the Travel and Flights section to access your flight booking reservation number. You can view everything you need to know about your flights through your airline’s website.
Always arrive at the airport at least 3 hours prior to your scheduled departure. Check the screens for the latest gate info as they may change.
Immigration & Customs
There are some things that you need to know to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
When arriving at the Immigration and Customs desk, be ready to answer questions and provide your documents to US immigration. It is important to be friendly, do not have your phone out and have your important documents readily available: passport, Visa, DS2019 form, camp contract, Sevis Receipt and customs form that you completed on the plane. Know the address and name of camp that you are going to. Have a copy of your onward travel instructions printed out with your important paperwork as this has the camp name and address on it.
In addition to reviewing your documents, an immigration officer will also ask you some questions: such as ‘What are you doing in the USA?’ Be prepared for this and please answer appropriately. Eg. I am going to Camp (Name) to be a Camp Counselor. They will also take your photograph and fingerprints. Now collect your luggage and head for the exit where you will pass through customs. Hand your customs form to the officer and be prepared to answer any questions.
You may be held up with flight delays. If your flight is significantly delayed at your home airport you should contact your local Camp Leaders office and let them know what is happening. The country office will follow up with your case as soon as they can but by the time you get to America, they will have a new onward travel ready for you.
At most American airports there will likely be access to free WiFi once you have cleared customs. In case you can’t get to your emails, please call the US helpline as they have been keeping in touch with your country office and camp relating to any known flight delays or travel issues.
If your connecting flight has been delayed in the United States, call the US Camp Leaders helpline. Camps also keep an eye on your flight and most likely already know about the delay.
You may have heard of an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), which is the online application you have to submit before you can visit America as a tourist. You are not entering the United States on an ESTA, you are entering with your J1 Visa.