Information for BDUs and Teachers at German International Schools

J-1 Visas for Teachers at official German Schools Abroad or working as BDU for ZfA

Designated by the U.S. Department of State, GAPP, Inc. is an authorized sponsor organization of the Exchange Visitor Program for teachers working for one of the five official German Schools Abroad in the US and for J1-visa qualifying German Language Advisors (Berater für Deutschunterricht - BDU) as determined by the Cen­tral Agen­cy for Ger­man Schools Abroad (ZfA).

The German American Partnership Program can only sponsor visas for teachers from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland working as BDUs for ZfA or who will work for one of the five official German International Schools Abroad in the US:

These schools are part of the Cen­tral Agen­cy for Ger­man Schools Abroad (ZfA) network.

In conjuction with the ZfA we provide pre-departure information and advice as well as comprehensive visa application instructions. You will also receive detailed personal and professional orientation information designed to help you prepare for your arrival and quickly assimilate to living and teaching in your new environment.  

For more information about the Exchange Visitor Program click the Department of State seal on the right to visit their website.

More Information

The BVA (Federal Office of Administration) which heads the ZfA, offers a detailed list with helpful links on life and working in the USA.
It's important that you fully understand the financial components involved with your participation in the Exchange Visitor Program before you accept a position and arrive in the U.S.

All GAPP Exchange Visitors 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 with one of the five schools above you will receive a letter from the ZfA and/or your host school with information about your annual salary.

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.

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.
The following initial fees are paid directly by the teacher to the appropriate U.S. government agency as part of the visa application process:
  • $180 - SEVIS Fee (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). This is a one-time only fee paid only by the J-1 visa applicant
  • $160 - Visa Processing Fee paid to the US Embassy. This fee applies to all J-1 and J-2 visa applicants
Depending on your status, the ZfA or your host school may reimburse you for these costs.
GAPP charges a $700 application fee per Exchange Visitor. 
Teachers in our program can only directly apply through the ZfA or the individual partner school, GAPP does not work with third party recruitment or placement organizations.
Unless you are paid by the ZfA (=German government), you will receive your pay directly from your host school in the U.S. As a local employee (Ortslehrkraft) of the 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 to pay the following in federal and state taxes:
  • 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)
There are many websites you can research to more accurately understand your tax obligation for example:

http://www.suburbancomputer.com/tips_calculator.php

https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/IRS-Withholding-Calculator

NOTE: GAPP cannot legally provide you with tax advice or endorse services from tax accountants. The information provided here is to assist you in your research only. It is your responsibility to understand your US tax obligation.
Some countries (e.g. Germany) have tax treaties with the United States whereby some or all of your income is exempt from certain taxes. We have provided links to the following sites which may help with your research on your personal tax status:

https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Alien-Liability-for-Social-Security-and-Medicare-Taxes-of-Foreign-Teachers,-Foreign-Researchers,-and-Other-Foreign-Professionals

http://www.internationalexchangecenter.org/tax-assistance-j-1-participants

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p515.pdf

NOTE: GAPP cannot legally provide you with tax advice or endorse services from tax accountants. The information provided here is to assist you in your research only. It is your responsibility to understand your US tax obligation.
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.

The US State Department sets forth the following requirements:
  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
If you are ADLK, BPLK, or BDU via the ZfA, your health insurance will be covered through their system. If you are locally hired, please contact the HR Department of your host school for more information.

Health insurance rates may vary by location, age, type of coverage selected and number of family members requiring coverage and could range from $150 - $250 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.
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 (Single Adult) - $ 1,000- $ 2,000
  • Utilities - $ 100 - $ 175
  • Cell phone - $ 50 - $ 100
  • Food - $ 150 - $ 250
  • Clothing - $ 50 - $ 100
  • Travel/ Entertainment - $ 100 - $200
NOTE: Prior to your arrival in the U.S. you will receive comprehensive GAPP/ZfA orientation materials which will have links to websites where you can research these expenses in more detail based on 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.