Completing your program
How did the time go by so fast? When it’s time to return home, in addition to fond farewells – and the last-minute shopping trip for souvenirs and gifts for loved ones – there are a few things you’ll want to attend to.
Before leaving your host organization:
- You and your supervisor must determine when your last day will be
- If applicable, request your final paycheck or agree on payment arrangements with your host organization
- Make sure your host organization has your contact information, so it can mail you your W-2 form for tax purposes
- Keep your host organization’s contact information in case you need to reach it later
- Ask your supervisor to write a letter of recommendation for you; this will be useful when applying for jobs in the future
Before leaving the country:
- If you have not received your Social Security number one month before your DS-2019 end date, check the status of your application with the nearest Social Security office
- Check with your landlord regarding requirements for vacating your housing
- Close your bank account, or make arrangements with your bank to keep it open
After returning home:
- Complete the CIEE Program Evaluation — Learn more
- File your tax returns
As a J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor, if you earn income in the United States you are required to pay federal, state, and sometimes local taxes. If you are not sure that your host organization is withholding the correct taxes from your paycheck, please see Pay and Taxes.
You are required by law to file a U.S. federal tax return, and separate state and local tax returns if you paid state and local taxes, even if you will be in your home country when it is time to do this. The good news is that you will likely be entitled to a refund of some or all of the taxes you paid.
Tax returns must be filed by April 15 for the previous tax year (sometimes a day or two later, if the 15th falls on a holiday or weekend). This means that if you earned paychecks in two different calendar years, you must file a separate tax return for each of those years.
Two ways to file your tax return
- Complete and file the forms yourself
You will need the following forms to file your own tax return:
- W-2 form: You will receive this from your host organization after the end of the tax year. It must legally be issued by January 31. Contact your host organization if you do not receive it soon after that date. Make sure the organization has your home address so it can send the form to you.
- 1040NR-EZ form: This form is for your federal tax return. You can download the form and instructions at irs.gov.
- State/local income tax forms: These forms are different for each state. You can find more information at irs.gov.
Unpaid internship: Even if your internship is unpaid, you must file Form 8843 to report your presence in the United States. Visit irs.gov for more details. If you are accompanied by any J-2 dependents, they must also file Form 8843.
- Use a company to file the tax returns on your behalf
There are many companies that provide tax filing services. Carefully check any provider’s credentials to make sure he or she will file your returns properly. CIEE's preferred tax provider is taxback.com.