Hiring Students to Work Seasonally in the U.S. on a J-1 Visa

If a business requires more workers at a particular time of the year to work on a seasonal basis, one way to meet your staffing needs is to hire students attending foreign colleges or universities who are on their break (summer or otherwise) between academic years. The U.S. State Department has made this possible by authorizing organizations to sponsor foreign students for participation in work travel programs.

Students who are granted a short-term J-1 visa, get the opportunity to connect with U.S. citizens, experience the U.S. culture as well as share their own culture with people they meet, travel in the U.S. and work in jobs that require minimal training and are seasonal or temporary. Such jobs let them earn funds which can help them cover a fragment of their expenses. The employer on the other hand benefits from access to a pool of talented, educated young people available when they are needed most.

Group of Employers That Are Unable to Use J-1 Seasonal Workers

The J-1 seasonal work program is not accessible to employers who are seeking to fill particular types of job positions. These include:

  • Sales positions where the students would need to purchase inventory that they must sell in order to support themselves
  • Domestic help positions in private homes (such as child care, elder care, gardeners, and chauffeur services)
  • Pedicab or rolling chair drivers
  • Taxi drivers or other jobs transporting passengers or employment for which a commercial driver’s license is required or
  • Job positions related to clinical care that involves patient contact

Working Hand in Hand With a Sponsor

To employ J-1 students for seasonal needs, the sponsor will work with one of the many companies and organizations that act as J-1 seasonal employee sponsors. For a fee, J-1 students can serve as the sponsor’s staffing agency, as well as determine the company’s hiring needs and advertise the employer’s job openings in foreign countries.

A sponsor, often through its agents in foreign countries, can help identify and recruit foreign students and schedule interviews to take place either overseas or in the U.S. Sponsors will also ensure that the students are able to speak English and are aware of any contractual obligations relevant to their acceptance of paid employment with their sponsor.

Sponsors can help get employers in touch with a student workforce no matter the season during which they experience a demand for extra labor. Although the J-1 seasonal work program is often referred to as “summer work/travel,” it does not mean the U.S. summer. Relatively, the program is for students who are on summer break between their academic years. Across the world, it’s always summer for students somewhere.

Providing Payment to J-1 Seasonal Employees

All J-1 seasonal workers must be paid the local wage which is either appropriate in the state or the federal minimum wage, whichever is higher. In addition, all J-1 employees who work overtime, must be paid in accordance with the state’s employment standards. Also, all J-1 seasonal workers must be provided with the number of hours of paid employment per week that was promised in the job offer.

Seek Advice from an Immigration Attorney

When it comes to hiring J-1 seasonal workers, U.S. employers are encouraged to ask an Immigration Lawyer about the process and requirements as the same is advised to J-1 seasonal workers. Contact Gambacorta Law Office at 847 433 9303 to schedule an appointment.