Frequently Asked Questions

Program Information

What is included in the ITA program? 

  • School placement in an accredited American school
  • DS-2019 form to support the J-1 visa application
  • University training and orientation program, exclusively designed for ESI teachers
  • Supplemental medical insurance (see more)
  • 24-hour emergency support while in the USA

What will my program be like? What should I expect from my program?

Your program includes the following main parts or components:

  1. Professional training - Before arrival in the United States, you will have access to an online training program, designed exclusively for ITA Teachers by Northern Arizona University. The program includes instruction in English for the classroom and Classroom Readiness & Teacher Preparation instruction. Learn more about ITA’s exclusive university training program here.
  2. School work - You will have a full-time teaching position at a school. You will be a valued member of the school and offer your professional techniques to your colleagues.
  3. Cultural exchange - You will learn about the culture of the United States, and you will teach your class and colleagues about your home country culture. You will be required to participate in and report to ITA at least two cross-cultural activities each year -- one that teaches about your home country and one that involves cross-cultural communication between your students and students of another country.
  4. Personal growth - You will grow as a person as you are challenged professionally and personally. Your English will improve. You will leave the US with a better understanding of who you are, your professional direction and your personal goals.

Do I need a visa?

Yes, ESI will support your application for a J-1 visa by providing the necessary paperwork, a DS-2019 form and job offer from your American school.

Can I bring my family?

Yes, ESI offers sponsorship for a spouse and/or dependents on the J-2 visa. The fee for a J-2 program is $500 per dependent per year. They also must purchase health insurance that meets minimum regulatory requirements, and maintain close communication with ESI throughout the Exchange Teacher’s program.

See more information on ITA's J-2 policies and costs.

What type of job responsibilities will I have? How many hours will I work?

Your job responsibilities may include: teaching in the classroom, preparing lesson plans, attending school meetings, taking professional development classes, and meeting with students and parents. View sample teacher responsibilities in this sample job posting by Monster. You should expect to work full time at the school and a minimum of 32 hours per week of teaching or teaching-related administrative activities. Some weeks you will work more, and some weeks you will work less, but your hours should average out to be full time. 

What salary will I receive?

Your salary will be commensurate with teachers from the U.S. with the same level of education and years of experience. Each school district typically has a plan or “wage schedule” that outlines the salary for every employee. Your salary information will be provided to you as part of the Employment Agreement. You should receive a paycheck directly from your school on your school’s pay schedule (typically every 2 weeks). 

What deductions will be taken from my paycheck?

You will notice that federal and state taxes will be taken out of your paycheck at a rate between 15-20% of your paycheck. Additionally, your paycheck may include a deduction for your medical insurance premium, depending on the type of insurance you elected. If your paycheck includes any deductions that you do not understand, please ask your school’s financial officer or Human Resources department. Your host school should provide you a written explanation for any deductions from your paycheck. 

What medical insurance will I have? What will it cost?

As part of the ESI/ International TeachAlliance program, you have medical insurance coverage provided by ISO Student Health Insurance from your home country departure date until you are able to take your host school’s standard medical insurance policy (a maximum of 90 days). ESI will work with your host school to ensure your school district’s insurance policy meets ESI’s requirements. Most school districts offer medical insurance that is included as part of your salary package; however, some schools may require you to contribute a portion of the cost (estimated $25 - $50 per paycheck), usually taken through a pre-tax deduction in your paycheck.

Additionally, throughout your J-1 program, ESI will provide a supplemental policy through ISO that covers program participants for repatriation and evacuation, according to minimum State Department requirements.  

How should I prepare for my arrival in the US?

Be sure to read ITA’s orientation materials, including the ITA Exchange Teacher Handbook and online FAQ, before you arrive in the United States.

Requirements/ Qualifications

How do I know if I qualify for the program?

To qualify for ITA’s TeachAlliance J-1 program, you must have:

  • 2 years+ of teaching experience
  • University degree (equivalent to U.S. bachelor’s degree)
  • Qualifications to teach in your country
  • English level to lead students in an American classroom
  • Professional references, attesting to your good reputation and character

How do I obtain a foreign credential evaluation?

ITA recommends that you obtain a foreign credential evaluation through AZICE. Select “Teacher Certification” and “Course-by-Course” service, and indicate that you are an ITA exchange teacher. The process will take 1-2 weeks, and you must complete the foreign credential evaluation prior to interviewing with a host school.

Tip: It may be more economical to obtain a certified translation of your transcripts in your home country.


Program Rules


What rules must I follow when in the US?

As part of the International TeachAlliance exchange program, it is important that participating teachers follow the program rules. 

  • Within 7 days of arrival in the United States, submit an Arrival Report  to ESI to confirm your safe arrival and report your housing address.
  • Maintain an accurate and up-to-date host school and housing address and contact information. Report to ESI any address or email/ phone change within 10 days of any change. 
  • Teach effectively and work cooperatively with administration, teachers and staff in your designated school to best meet the educational needs of the student population.
  • Follow the rules, policies and procedures of the school and district.
  • Participate only in authorized employment at the host school that has been approved by ESI. 
  • Maintain the minimum medical insurance coverage required by Department of State regulations and ESI. 

Important Note - It is extremely important to inform ESI when you arrive to your host community and if you make any address changes, as ESI is required by U.S. government regulation to report your location in the SEVIS system. 

Failure to follow these important rules and regulations of the program may result in program termination, requiring an immediate return to your home country.

Fees and Costs

How much money do I need to bring to the US?

It is important that you carefully plan a budget for your International TeachAlliance program. As part of the application process, you will complete a Budget Exercise to calculate your expected income and expenses. Participating teachers should be aware that your teaching salary may not cover your total expenses -- including the cost of the program, visa application/ SEVIS fees, travel, housing, transportation, and living expenses – so you should plan to bring additional personal funds.

You should have at least $2,000 - $5,000 available to you when you arrive in the United States for settling in costs, including transportation to your host school, housing deposits, food and other personal expenses until you receive your first paycheck.

See our Fees page for more information.