Summary of U.S. Dept. of State Regulations for J1 Work & Travel
NOTE: The information given on this webpage is used as a training tool for ERDT’s Home Country Agents. Many sections have been reworded for clarity. This is not a full or word-for-word listing of the regulations. The exact regulations can be found here.
Purpose of program
The purpose of the program is to increase mutual understanding between people in the U.S. and other countries.
Publicity materials that Home Country Agents use to recruit participants:
- Must clearly explain the activities, costs, conditions, and restrictions of the program;
- May not indicate that the U.S. Government supports or endorses ERDT over any other sponsor;
- Must be completely truthful & accurate.
Eligibility for the program
Before submitting applicants' materials to ERDT, agents must ensure that participants are qualified for the program, including:
- The program meets the applicant's needs;
- The applicant has enough money to be eligible for a visa and support themselves until receipt of their first paycheck;
- The applicant has high enough English level to communicate in the U.S. at a business level, without relying on others for assistance;
- Applicant has completed at least one semester or equivalent of full-time post-secondary study at an accredited post-secondary institution.
Applicants must be interviewed in-person or by video. Their English ability can be determined through this interview and/or through a language test administered by an academic institution.
If a Home Country Agent breaks any Department of State regulations, ERDT will be held responsible.
Sponsors may use a Home Country Agent to screen, select and orient the students. Sponsors & Home Country Agents must have a written agreement which:
- Outlines the obligations of the sponsor and Home Country Agent;
- States that the Home Country Agent will not use another third party to fulfill any of these obligations;
- Lists the prices charged by the Home Country Agent;
- States that the employer will not receive money or gifts from anyone, in exchange for accepting participants
Home Country Agents must send the sponsor the below information:
- Proof of business licensing and/or registration
- Disclosure of bankruptcy and any pending legal actions
- 3 written references from current business associates or partner organizations
- Summary of previous experience conducting J1 programs
- Criminal background check reports (including original and English translation) for all owners and officers of the organization
- Copy of all advertising materials that will be used to market the program (including original and English translation)
- Notarized financial statements, including original and English translation
Once all these documents are received, ERDT will inform the Department of State of their partnership with the Home Country Agent.
Sponsors must follow the below procedures to fully vet an employer:
- Contacting the employer to verify the owner/manager’s names, telephone numbers, email addresses, street addresses and professional activities.
- Use publicly available information (websites, advertisements, and feedback from prior participants) to confirm that the business is viable.
- Obtaining the employer's Employer Identification Numbers and copies of their current business licenses.
- Verifying the employers' Worker's Compensation Insurance Policy or equivalent in each state where a participant will be placed.
Sponsors may not allow students to work:
- In the adult entertainment industry, or any position that could bring notoriety or disrepute to the Exchange Visitor Program
- In sales positions that require participants to buy goods that they must sell
- In domestic help positions in private homes
- As pedicab or rolling chair drivers or operators
- As operators of any vehicles or vessels that carry passengers, or for which a commercial driver’s license is required
- In a position related to clinical care
All participants must have medical insurance which meets the below standards:
- Benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness
- Repatriation of remains in the amount of at least $7500
- Medical evacuation to the home country of at least $10,000
- A deductible no more than $500 per accident or illness
- May not exclude activities that the participant would be doing as part of the program
- Must either be underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of “A–” or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-i” or above, a Standard & Poor's Claims-paying Ability rating of “A–” or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above, or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify; or (less common) backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor's home country.
SEVIS and the DS-2019 Form
Sponsors must validate the participant’s SEVIS record within 30 days of the participant’s start date.
Sponsors must ensure that the actual and correct address of the participant is recorded in SEVIS, within 21 days of being notified by a participant of a change in his/her address. When mail cannot be delivered to the actual address, sponsors should report a mailing address, and maintain a record of the actual address.
DS forms may only be created, printed and signed by a RO or ARO who is physically in the U.S.
Sponsors must get unused DS-2019 forms back from prospective participants.
The Work/Travel program may be no longer than 4 months or the official length of the student’s main break from school.
Home Country Agents must provide students with an orientation that includes, at minimum:
- A description of the Work/Travel program and its purpose;
- The home-country physical presence requirement
- Travel & entry into the U.S.
- Fees payable to the sponsor
- Other costs/living expenses that the exchange visitor will incur in the U.S.
- Health care and insurance
- Other information that will assist them in preparing for their stay
- Life and customs in the U.S.
- Local community resources (public transportation, medical centers, schools, libraries, recreation centers and banks)
- Emergency assistance
- Rules that the participant is required to follow
- Address, name, telephone number and 24/7 immediate contact telephone number of the sponsor
- U.S. Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program address, telephone number and toll-free help line
- Instructions for how participants are to report their arrival
- Instructions for how participants are to report a change in job or residence within 10 days
- Information on any contractual obligations regarding their job
- Information on Federal Minimum Wage requirements
- Before departing for the U.S. students must receive the below items:
- Copy of Exchange Visitor Program brochure
- DOS Participant Letter
- DOS Program Brochure
Sponsors must offer a variety of cross-cultural activities to participants, and encourage participants to engage in their own cross-cultural activities. A cross-cultural activity is an activity designed to promote exposure and interchange between exchange visitors and Americans so as to increase their understanding of each other's society, culture, and institutions.
Sponsors must ensure that participants are engaged in Work/Travel related activities.
Sponsors must contact all participants at least monthly by phone, in person, or via email.
In addition to the monthly contact, sponsors must provide assistance to employers and participants on an as-needed basis.
Sponsors must monitor the progress & welfare of the participant, and must ensure that any issues affecting the participants’ health, safety and welfare are addressed quickly and accurately.
Sponsors must notify participants to report changes in address within 10 days of such a change.
Participants must also keep phone number and address updated with sponsor.
Sponsors must notify the Department of State of any major problems.
Sponsors must provide any information that the Department of State asks for.
Sponsors must terminate a student when:
- He/she fails to pursue the activities of the Work/Travel program
- He/she violates the Exchange Visitor Program regulations
- He/she violates the sponsor rules, and the sponsor decides the violation is serious enough to warrant termination.
- He/she engages in employment that has not been authorized by the sponsor
- He/she willfully does not maintain insurance coverage, or falsely claims to the sponsor that he/she has coverage.
- He/she does not inform the sponsor of a change of address within 10 days of such a change.
Sponsors must notify the Department of State when an exchange visitor ends the program more than 30 days prior to his/her visa end date, or when a participant is terminated.
Sponsors are expected to encourage students to return home.
The Work/Travel program may not be extended.
Sponsors must confirm job placements, verify the terms and conditions of employment, and vet the employer, before participants start work.
Sponsors must ensure that participants are compensated at the prevailing local wage, which must be equal or higher to the Federal and state minimum wage. Overtime must be paid if applicable.
Sponsors must ensure that participants receive the number of hours that were identified on the job offer and as discussed between sponsor and employer during vetting.
Sponsors must ensure that employers notify the sponsor immediately:
- when participants arrive
- when there is a change in job placement
- when participants are not meeting the requirements of their job placement
- when participants leave their position before their planned departure
- in the event of an emergency with a participant
- in the event of an emergency that affects a participant
Training / Questionnaire on U.S. Department of State Regulations