J1 Visa Summer Work Travel Basic Information
What is a j1 visa? According to the U.S. State Department, College and University students enrolled full time and pursuing studies at post-secondary accredited academic institutions located outside the United States come to the United States to share their culture and ideas with people of the United States through temporary work and travel opportunities. The Summer Work Travel program provides foreign students with an opportunity to live and work in the U.S. during their summer vacation from college or university to experience and to be exposed to the people and way of life in the United States.
There are generally four parties involved in a Summer Work Travel venture: (1) the Student; (2) the Sponsor; (3) the Host Employer; and (4) the U.S. Government.
For the first three parties, the U.S. Government provides the following requirements:
Basic requirements of Summer Work Travel Students
- You must be sufficiently able to speak English, so that you can interact in an English speaking social and scholastic atmosphere;
- You must be a post-secondary school student, enrolled in and actively pursuing a degree or other full-time course of study, at an accredited classroom-based post-secondary institution outside the United States;
- You must have successfully completed at least one semester or equivalent of post-secondary coursework; and
- You must be pre-placed in a job (you Sponsor) prior to entry unless from a visa waiver country.
To apply for a J1 Summer Work Travel experience, a student should contact an official designated sponsor, as discussed below. The designated sponsors supervise the application process and are the main point of contact throughout the exchange program process. You should also familiarize yourself with the DS-2019 FORM (the “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status.” This is the basic document used for administration of the exchange program. Designated sponsors are authorized to issue this form to prospective exchange visitors they have screened and selected for participation in the exchange visitor program. The Sponsor usually fills out the DS-2019 for you. After you have coordinated with a Sponsor and submitted the DS-2019, you will have to seek and attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your country to obtain the J1 visa. The Consular Office then decides whether to accept you into the U.S. Summer Work Travel program.
Basic requirements for Summer Work Travel Sponsors
- You must provide pre-arranged and fully-vetted employment to all participants who are not from a visa waiver country.
- Provide all participants, prior to entry:
- A copy of the Department of State Summer Work Travel Program Brochure;
- The Department of State’s toll-free emergency hotline telephone number;
- The sponsor’s 24/7 immediate contact telephone number;
- Information advising participants of their obligation to notify their sponsor when they arrive in the United States and to provide information of any change in jobs or residence; and
- Information concerning any contractual obligations related to participants’ acceptance of paid employment in the United States, if pre-arranged.
- If you are sponsoring students from a Visa Waiver Program country, you must:
- Ensure that participants entering the United States without prearranged employment have sufficient financial resources to support themselves during their search for employment;
- Provide such participants with information on how to seek employment and secure lodging in the United States before they depart their home countries; and
- Provide participants with a job directory that includes at least as many job listings as the number of participants in their program who are entering the United States without prearranged employment.
- You must undertake reasonable efforts to secure suitable employment for participants unable to find jobs on their own after one week;
- You must inform program participants of Federal Minimum Wage requirements and ensure that, at a minimum, participants are compensated at the prevailing local wage, which must meet the higher of either the applicable state or the Federal minimum wage requirement, including payment for overtime in accordance with state-specific employment; and
- You must maintain, at a minimum, a monthly schedule of personal contact with the program participants (in-person, by telephone or via-electronic mail), document such contact, and ensure that issues affecting the health, safety and welfare of participants are addressed immediately.
The U.S. Government has a list of official designated sponsor organizations in each state. These Sponsors have official locations in a particular city, but many Sponsors can place Students anywhere in the U.S., regardless of the Sponsor’s official location. Florida currently (August 2013) has five Sponsors:
Walt Disney World and Walt Disney World Co.; Immigration Compliance Department 12450 State Road 535, W-113, 32830; Lake Buena Vista, FL (407-828-4626).
A Cultural Exchange Service, Inc., and Life Adventures, Inc.; 14258 Creek Run Drive, Riverview, FL 33579 (866-401-8910).
American Hospitality Academy; Attention Karin Morrison, 240 Key Honey Lane, Tavernier, FL 33070 (305-395-8881).
Requirements for Summer Work Travel Host Employers
- You must provide participants the number of hours of paid employment per week as identified on the job offer and agreed to when the sponsor vetted the jobs;
- You must pay those participants eligible for overtime worked in accordance with applicable state or federal law;
- Notify sponsors promptly when participants arrive at the work site and begins their programs; when there are any changes or deviations in the job placements during the participants’ programs; when participants are not meeting the requirements of job placements; or when participants leave their position ahead of their planned departure; and
- Contact sponsors immediately in the event of any emergency involving participants or any situation that impacts the health, safety or welfare of participants.
Contact your local immigration attorney for help starting your J1 Summer Work Travel experience or to host a traveler.
Until next time. Stay tuned.