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Skipping summer to work in the USA at a ski resort can be stressful and confusing – especially if you aren’t sure where to start. Usually you have more questions than answers, which doesn’t really give you peace of mind.

On our Work USA 4 Month program there are so many things to consider; can I travel with a friend? (Yes you can!) Am I eligible for the visa? Will I get staff accommodation? What winter resorts can I work at? When should I apply? What is included in the package? And so on… We recommend reviewing our Work USA 4 Month FAQ below to learn more about the nitty gritty details of the program.


How does IEP help me find a job/accommodation?

IEP works with a number of resorts across America. We are able to organize interviews with your preferred resorts and find you a job before you leave New Zealand!

Most of the resorts have employee housing available – dependent on availability and the role you have accepted.

You will also be added to our closed Facebook Group where you can meet and ask your fellow travellers questions.

What have other people done for work?

Our participants have done a wide variety of roles at the resorts, these include:

  • Lift operator
  • Rental/Repair technician
  • Retail Assistant
  • Ticket agent
  • House keeping
  • Guest Services
  • Reservations Agent
  • Dishwasher
  • Cook
  • Front Desk at hotel
  • Ski Shop Assistant
  • Snowmakers
  • Ski & Snowboard instructor
  • Employee Services Supervisor
  • Hotel Bell Person
  • Photographer

If you are unsure whether your desired employment position would be allowed under the visa regulations just give us a call at 0800 700 705 or contact us here and we can double check for you!

Will I make a lot of money?

That depends on you. The amount of money you make depends on how much you will be working and how you spend your money. The minimum wage ranges depending what State you are working and living in.

Where will I live?

Our resorts are based in California!


Do I have to be a current student or recent graduate to go?

To be eligible for these programs you must be a full time student or recent graduate of an Australian or New Zealand Tertiary institution.

Fulltime student: If you are currently enrolled you need to have completed two consecutive full time semesters before you go to the USA

Recent Graduate: If you are travelling as a recent graduate you need to have been enrolled as a full time student at the time of your application

Can I apply if I'm at university?

If you are at university then it is a perfect time to plan a working adventure overseas! The best thing about this 4 month visa is that it allows you to live in the USA for 4 months over your summer break and be back in NZ in time to start back at uni for Semester 1!

Do I have to have an extensive employment history?

The employers that we work with are aware of the hard work and enthusiasm that New Zealanders bring to the resorts. Attitude is everything and personality is worth just as much as direct experience in these roles. In saying that, it is valuable to have a CV that demonstrates that you have transferable skills from past employment that will help at the resort. There is no need to have actually worked at a ski resort before though.

If you have not had any jobs before then you will probably find it difficult to be hired. We recommend that you find employment in NZ (part-time if studying is fine) to improve your skill set and help show off your employability!

Do I need to be able to ski or snowboard to work at a resort?

No! In fact this could be a great opportunity for you to learn during your time off. Some jobs will require you have to have a certain ski ability such as the roles of Lift Operators or Instructors but the majority don’t require any ski/boarding skills.

Can I interview with your employers if I don't have a visa yet?

As long as you are eligible for a 4 month J-1 visa and are either in the process of getting your visa or plan to apply right after your interview then that is fine. The employers do like to know you already have the visa sorted though and because of the time involved in applying for the visa we recommend you apply as soon as you can.

What are the age limits for participants?

The minimum age is 18 and there is no upper age.

What do I do about insurance?

Your insurance is already included in the program fee so you are sorted!

What is proof of funds?

Proof of funds is a required amount of money you will need in your bank account when you enter the US. This is basically your savings. You will need to have a minimum of USD$800.


What is a DS2019 form?

The DS2019 is a US government form that will allow you to apply for the J-1 Visa at the US Consulate. IEP will provide you with the form after you have met the qualifications for the program.

What is SEVIS?

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) is a program within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement which monitors students and exchange visitors in the United States with F, M, or J visas status.

Do I need to attend a US consulate interview?

Yes. It is a program requirement that you attend a US Consulate Interview, as this is the only way you can get your visa processed. The US Consulate in NZ is in Auckland.

Can I extend my visa?

No. You can only work for the duration that is stated on your J1 Visa.


What resorts are interviewing for the Work USA 4 Month program?

So far we have the following resorts

  • NorthStar (Tahoe)
  • Boreal (Tahoe)
What happens if I'm not offered a job?

Before the interviews you will be asked to choose your top employers. We will do our best to schedule you in for interviews with your top two employers and you are guaranteed at least two interviews. When scheduling participants in for interviews we do it in the order that people applied, so there is definitely an advantage to getting in early! Apply early to ensure you have the best chance of getting your preferred times and employers.

You may specify positions you are interested in at the interview however you are applying for employment at the resort rather than for a particular position. If you are flexible and open to accepting an offer for the job the employer feels you are best suited for then you will improve your employability a hundred fold!

Are a CV and references required?

You will be required to provide an up to date CV to provide to the employers before your interviews.

What should I expect from the interview?

American employment interviews are similar to interviews you may have had in NZ. You should be prepared to answer questions about yourself, your skills, experience and also your strengths and weaknesses. The interviews are formal and you should act professionally throughout. While ski resorts may be more casual workplaces than your average office you will still need to make an effort to dress nicely and show your best manners!

How long will I be working at my resort and how many hours will I work?

This is negotiated between you and the employer however the usual minimum term is 3 months. These positions are seasonal so, to some degree, your hours depend on the snow. The majority of our positions are full time (30-40 hours) seasonal roles. Your hours will be made clear to you when you are offered a job so it won’t be a surprise. You will probably find that if the snow isn’t falling then work will be slow and you can expect to work less hours. On the flipside, during busy times and on holidays there may be the opportunity for overtime! We recommend having some back up savings for emergencies and to put aside some wages from the super busy weeks to tide you over if you have some slow weeks.

Are there any special uniform/grooming requirements on the job?

Once you accept your job you’ll be informed of any special uniform requirements by your employer. In general it is a good idea to make sure you can bring black shoes, pants and a white shirt for indoor positions as a base for the uniform. For outdoor positions you would usually be provided with the outer layers you need to survive in the snow but it is a very good idea to bring plenty of warm layers to wear underneath.

Each resort is a little bit different but they all expect tidy and wholesome grooming. You may need to cut off dreads or dye your hair a normal colour if you have a more alternative style. Piercings may or may not be suitable for their policies depending on how visible they are. At the interview they will let you know if there are any special requirements that you need to know about.

How will I get to work?

This depends on your resort and accommodation situation. Common ways of getting to work are catching public transport or walking/catching a staff shuttle from staff accommodation. You should not need to buy a car while you are over there as many of the resort staff will be temporarily living in the area like you and there is infrastructure in place for staff without personal transport.

What if I already have a job lined up?

Awesome! Not to worry – after your new employer has been approved by the visa sponsor, we can help you with everything else to get you organized for your winter season!

Where will I live?

Many of the resorts we work with offer accommodation for staff. This type of accommodation is usually close to the workplace with shared apartments or houses. The price for this is generally cheaper than renting privately and it will be deducted from your wages automatically. The price of the accommodation depends on the location and other factors like whether or not you share your bedroom.

Another popular option is to band together with other staff, or IEP members to rent a house for the season. Your employer will give you information about where to start in finding local properties. There is also no reason why you can’t find a room in an already established flat with other staff or even locals!

Will I get any benefits around the resort?

All of our employers offer benefits to their employees above and beyond your wage. The benefits differ from employer to employer but all offer a free or discounted season ski pass. It is also common to get discounts on lessons, gear and rentals and food around the resort. Some even offer free snacks or hot drinks while you are on your shift! Social events and staff parties are part of the resort experience and you will probably find your mountain has agreements with other nearby mountains so that you can ski there for free as well!

If I go on the program, what do I get?

With Work USA 4 Month you will interview and receive a job offer with one of our American employers.

PLUS All the benefits of Work USA 4 Month program

Not only do you get a job sorted before you go but you also get all of the benefits of being on our fully supported Work USA 4 Month program. This means you get expert advice on visas, insurance and planning prior to departure, and you have access to our members lounge the whole time you are in the USA.

Before you leave we provide:

  • Visa assistance for your J-1 visa (4 months)
  • Work USA handbook full of valuable advice
  • Pre-Departure session explaining important info
  • General advice including budgeting
  • Great flight deals through STA
  • 15% off snow and ski gear at Snowcentre

When you arrive you receive:

  • Free or subsidised ski pass
  • Discounted ski rentals
  • Subsidised housing (depends on employer) plus food & drink
  • Great resort staff events to kick start your American social life
  • 24 hour, 7 day support if something goes wrong
Can I go with a friend/partner?

Yes. Travelling with a friend/partner is not a problem. All you need to do is tell us your travel plans and we will book it accordingly.


Can I arrive early into the USA?

You should arrive 5 days or less before your job start date. You also have a 30 day grace period at the conclusion of your visa that you can use to travel around the USA.

Should I be worried about travelling alone?

No. Many participants travel alone. We have a closed Work USA Facebook group where you can meet your fellow travellers before you leave the country.

Can I meet other participants before I leave for the US?

Yes. We have a closed Facebook group where you can meet your fellow participants.

Can I drive in the US?

Yes you can, if you have the appropriate licence and have checked the regulations in the state you will be residing.


Do I have to book with STA Travel?

We have an in-house STA Agent, Katrina, who we highly recommend you speak with. She is able to help you book your return flights as well as other travel options for your 30 day grace period! You can contact her on 0800 55 66 90 or at

Can I book a one way ticket to the US?

No. When travelling to the US you must have an onward ticket out of North America.


How do I apply?

To apply all you need to do is fill out an online application and pay the program fee. Once that is complete we will be in touch to start on the rest of the visa paper work.

When should I apply?

As soon as you are able! We assign interviews based on when people sign up to our program, which means first applicants get first choice over who they interview with. So the earlier you apply the more likely that you’ll get your preferred employer interviews!

How long does the application process take?

It can take anywhere from 6-10 weeks to process all of the documentation. You can apply early to avoid any stress. Just let us know when you want to travel and we will book everything accordingly.

Is there someone I can speak to about the program?

Absolutely! You can give us a call from a landline at 0800 443 769 or from a mobile at 09 366 6255. You can email at or visit us on Facebook. Usually once a month we host free information sessions, which is a great way to learn more about the program.

Have further questions about our Work USA 4 month program?
Fill out the form below and one of our team will be in touch by phone and email!

Work USA 4 Month Registration Form