Employer FAQ

What documents should I use for the participant's I-9 form?

The participant's passport, I-94 card and DS-2019 form fulfill item 5 under List A of the “Lists of Acceptable Documents.” 

How should the participant's W-4 form be filled out?

Check “Single” marital status on line 3 (even if the participant is married or divorced). Claim only 1 withholding allowance on line 5. Do not claim “Exempt” withholding status on line 7. 

The participant applied for the Social Security Card, but hasn’t received it yet.  Can he/she work? 

Yes, he/she may work as soon as he/she has successfully applied for the Social Security Card.  When they successfully apply, the Social Security Office will hand a letter confirming that they have successfully applied.  For more information, view this page on the Social Security Administration website:

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/employer/hiring.htm

For payroll, most employers are able to input a dummy number (like 111-11-1111) and then switch to the correct number once the participant provides it.

Do I need to confirm that the participant has a Work Authorization Card or EAD Card? 

J-1 Work and Travel Program participants do not need a Work Authorization Card or EAD card.  In fact, they are not able to get such a card because 1) they are technically in the U.S. as an exchange student and 2) they are only authorized to work for a maximum of 4 months.  The following documents together demonstrate that J1 participants are eligible to work: a valid passport, I-94 card, DS-2019 form, and either a Social Security card or the letter from the Social Security Office, saying that the Social Security card will be issued soon.  

E-Verify says that the participant is not eligible to work. What do I do? 

E-Verify sometimes gives a “false negative” for J-1 Work and Travel participants, due to their very specific status.

ERDT has spoken with E-Verify about this problem in the past, and they have told us that when an employer signs up to use E-Verify, the employer received instructions (in a binder) on the procedures that the employer is required to follow in the event of a negative result with E-Verify.  Please follow these procedures, and keep us informed.

What taxes do J-1 Work & Travel students not have to pay? 

J-1 Work and Travel students do not need to pay Medicare, Social Security, or Federal Unemployment tax (FUTA or FICA). For more information, view these pages on the IRS website:

IRS Web Page Explaining J1 Students' Exemption from Unemployment Tax

IRS Web Page Explaining J1 Students' Exemption from Social Security & Medicare

What rules does the U.S. Department of State require that employers follow?

  1. Employers must not allow participants to work more than 4 hours between 10 pm and 6 am. 

  2. Employers must provide participants the number of hours identified on their job offers;

  3. Participants must be paid for overtime worked, in accordance with applicable State or Federal law.

  4. Employers must notify sponsors promptly:

    • When participants arrive at the work sites to begin their programs;

    • If there are any changes or deviations in the job placements before or during the participants' programs;

    • If participants are not meeting the requirements of their job placements;

    • When participants leave their positions;

    • In the event of any emergency or situation impacting the participants' health, safety, or welfare;

  5. In those instances when the employer provides housing or transportation, it must be suitable, acceptable, reliable, affordable, and convenient.

  6. Employers must not allow participants to work or volunteer outside of their program dates. 

How long must the participant work for me?

The participant is required to demonstrate that, when they applied for a visa and came to the U.S., it was with the intention to work for the employer listed on their DS-2019 form.  So, if you are the participant's first employer, ERDT requires them to work for you for 3 weeks after arrival, to demonstrate this intent.  After this point, they may work for any job after receiving permission from ERDT.  ERDT cannot force a participant to stay at a job if they wish to leave.  If it is important to you to have the participant stay for a certain length of time, we strongly recommend that you offer an end-of-season bonus.

May the participant get a 2nd job?

Participants may get a 2nd job only after receiving permission from ERDT via this process.

What jobs may the participant not do?

  1. Non-seasonal positions, or any positions where participants would displace U.S workers;

  2. Working for a staffing company that does not provide full-time, on-site primary supervision of the participants;

  3. Drivers or operators of vehicles or vessels, pedicab or rolling chairs or riding on a motor vehicle outside the cab;

  4. Positions in the adult entertainment industry or any position that would bring the U.S. Exchange Visitor Program into disrepute;

  5. Positions that require sustained physical contact with people and/or adherence to the CDC Universal Blood & Body Fluid Precautions guidelines (e.g., piercing, tattooing, massage, manicure, clinical or patient care, contaminated laundry);

  6. Any position requiring a license, including any position directly involved with gambling or wagering;

  7. As a teacher, intern, trainee, camp counselor or physician;

  8. Domestic positions in private homes (e.g., child care, elder care, gardener, housekeeper, chauffeur, personal assistant);

  9. Sales positions that require participants to purchase inventory that they must sell in order to support themselves or positions that are substantially commission-based and do not guarantee minimum wage;

  10. Positions with travelling fairs or itinerant concessionaires;

  11. Chemical pest control, warehousing, catalogue/online order distribution centers, agriculture, forestry, timber or logging, fishing/hunting, mining/quarrying, oil/gas extraction, construction, manufacturing, wrecking/excavation/demolition, shipbreaking, roofing, forest fire fighting/ prevention, slaughtering, meat/poultry/fish packing/processing/ rendering;

  12. Operating a saw-, lath-, shingle- or cooperage stock-mill; power-driven woodworking, hoisting, metal forming, punching, shearing, meat processing, bakery or paper-products machines; balers; compactors; operating circular-, band-, chain- or reciprocating-saws, guillotine shears, wood chippers, and abrasive cutting discs; in occupations involving exposure to radioactive substances and to ionizing radiations or close proximity to explosives;

  13. Positions at worksites that have experienced layoffs in the past 120 days or that have workers on lockout or on strike;

For more information on the U.S. Department of State regulations governing the Summer Work/Travel program, visit the below webpage and click on "Summer work travel" under Subpart B:

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=1&SID=79d98ab5bcee532590d1b4d0ce0258f7&ty=HTML&h=L&n=22y1.0.1.7.35&r=PART