In part 1 of this series, we discussed the recruiting requirements for H-2B visas in the hospitality industry. In this post, we will discuss another widely used visa in this sector, the J-1.
J-1 Visa Program
The J-1 visa is a cultural exchange program that lets foreign nationals come to the United States to teach, study, conduct research, demonstrate special skills, or receive on-the-job training. For the hotel industry, workers generally fall into three J-1 visa categories: intern, trainee, or summer work/travel.
With a J-1 visa, students enrolled in a university or college outside of the U.S. or who graduated in the past 12 months may enter the country for a structured internship program in their field of study for a period of 3 weeks to 12 months. Students may return to the U.S. multiple times with this visa if advanced internships are available.
The J-1 trainee visa helps foreign workers develop their skills and gain experience that they can take back to their home countries. To qualify under the trainee category, a foreign worker must have at least five years of experience working in the position or a Bachelor's degree or equivalent, with at least one year of experience. Trainees in the hotel industry may work in the U.S. for up to 18 months.
The summer work/travel J-1 visa allows foreign workers to come to the United States for up to 4 months during the summertime. To qualify, the worker must be enrolled in a college or university outside the United States, and they may return to the U.S. each summer as long as they are enrolled in school.
Hotel employers looking to hire students under the J-1 visa program must provide a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (Form DS-2019) to the participating student. This certificate lets prospective students apply for an interview at a local U.S. embassy or consulate to obtain the visa.
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