What Happens When Your J1 Program Ends? Refund Your Retirement!



1. Work with your HR person for the forms to refund the following:

    1. Tax refund for the year
    2. Retirement*
    3. Other refundable items, if applicable.

2. Read the tips before your J1 program ends (work on it as soon as able!) 

*For teachers in New Mexico under the J1 visa program, you may ELECT to REFUND your RETIREMENT payments. *You may also elect to leave your retirement there!

You will complete and submit the Request for Refund to refund your contributions. Employer contributions are not refundable unless you are already vested. 

Please coordinate with your district about the number of years an employee must work to be vested.

*If you are vested in 5 years, then you are also eligible to refund your employer contribution! (To be vested in NM schools, an employee has to work for 10 years straight).

If you are requesting your funds within 90 days of termination, your employer must certify that you are no longer working. 

It is best to coordinate with your HR person before you leave. That way, you can also set up how you want your money to be deposited in your still-existing US bank account or, if you prefer, send the check to the Philippines, whichever is doable.

To learn more: https://www.nmerb.org/active-members/refunding-your-account/

For teachers in other states, please coordinate with your HR and retirement board for the process of refund. You may want to check as early as now to be sure.

It's nice to know there is something to look forward to at the end of the program - especially if it's moolah!


Here's a real refund deposited to the teacher's account when the teacher left the J1 program.

The teacher opted to have the check deposited to the still-open US bank account. The teacher worked for 3 years.

It's still a good amount of available cash as you do your two-year home requirement on top of all your savings!

Multiply by the prevailing peso rate, not bad! :)

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