Many employers want more information about the program for which their international staff are participating and may have questions from time to time.  ACES has taken the most frequently asked questions and has provided employers with this resource page to find the answers and for convenient access to forms and useful links.

There are responsibilities related to being a host employer for J1 exchange visitors. It is not a work program, rather, a cultural exchange program developed to broaden cultural understanding and respect. Please take a moment to read this information provided by the Dept of State. Host Employer Advisory Letter.

If your question is not answered here, feel free to contact your Account Manager or email your question to [email protected].

Program Period for J1 Participants

Camp Counselors: Camp Counselor dates are restricted to a maximum of 4 months employment and must be consistent with typical summer camp season dates.

Camp Support Staff: Camp support staff are governed by the summer work travel program and as such are subject to the summer work travel permitted dates as established by their home country. Dates are subject to change.

Summer Work Travel Participants (Winter Staff): Candidates from the southern hemisphere enjoy their summer break during the US winter.  Eligible candidates are restricted in their permitted work dates for up to 4 months during their university’s summer break as long as it is also within the window of opportunity outlined by the Dept of State.

Support Staff Program Dates

Summer Work Travel Host Employer Letter

Regulations Governing J1 Camp Counselor and Summer Work Travel Participants

Both the camp counselor and summer work travel programs are exchange visitor programs and are subject to Department of State regulations.

Camp Counselor Program

Counselor Regulations

The regulations governing the summer work travel program have been under scrutiny and have undergone some changes in vetting procedures for employers, etc.

Camp Support Staff (Summer Work Travel Program)

Summer Work Travel Regulations

The full published set of regulations are available online at

Required Employer Forms

Employers accepting international support staff are now required to submit for sponsor approval the following:

  • Copy of Coverage Page for Workman’s Comp Insurance (or copy of exemption)
  • Copy of the Company’s Business License
  • Proof of seasonality.  A seasonality survey is provided: SWT Employer Eligibility Survey
  • Employment Agreement for each participant. An employment agreement is provided. SWT Employment Agreement Form

As regulations change, you can expect more information to come from the designated sponsors associated with your international staff.

Department of  State Communication with Employers Kentucky Consular Center

As part of changing regulations dictating the summer work travel program, the US Department of State occasionally verifies work agreement information through their centralized processing facility, the Kentucky Consular Center. Please be aware that an employee of this facility may contact you to verify your company information, to ensure that the information that has been provided is accurate and valid, and to ensure that the student has a job waiting for them upon their arrival to the US.  You may be asked to provide a list of the students‘ names you are expecting.  More than likely, the contact will be made through email, and your timely response would be appreciated.

Site Visits by Sponsor Representatives

Sponsors periodically visit their exchange visitors at their housing and at their employment sites to inspect the living conditions and work atmosphere.

Site Visits from Compliance Unit

The Department of State’s Compliance Division periodically conducts site visits to verify participant employment, to inspect work and living conditions, and to confirm that employers understand that by accepting a J1 participant,  they are taking part in a public diplomacy program.   If a  representative visits, be sure to welcome him/her.

Taxes and J1 Staff Informational Links

Tax laws have changed and all J1 Exchange Visitors are required to apply for a social security card and are subject to federal, state and local taxes on all earnings. They are still exempt of paying into FICA, FUTA and Social Security though. ACES recommends that employers consult with their accountant/tax preparer as tax laws may differ among states. The American Camping Association (ACA) offers some suggestions in this matter as well.  Please read through their Frequently Asked Questions.

For your convenience, we have included some links directly pertaining to the subject.

IRS Publication 515 (2020):
Page 36
Social security and Medicare tax. The employer generally also must withhold Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax and file Form 941, Employer’s QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return. In certain cases, wages paid to students and railroad and agricultural workers are exempt from FICA tax. Wages paid to nonresident alien students, teachers, researchers, trainees, and other nonresident aliens in “F-1,” “J-1,”“ M-1,” or “Q” nonimmigrant status are not subject to FICA. See Pub. 15-T for the rules on withholding.
Federal unemployment tax (FUTA). The employer must pay FUTA tax and file Form 940, Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return. Only the employer pays this tax; it is not deducted from the employee’s wages. In certain cases, wages paid to students and railroad and agricultural workers are exempt from FUTA tax. For more information, see the instructions for Form 940. Wages paid to nonresident alien students, teachers, researchers, trainees, and other nonresident aliens in “F-1,” “J-1,” “M-1,” or “Q” nonimmigrant status are not subject to FUTA tax.

Social Security and Foreign Workers

Social Security

In order to obtain a Social Security Number participants must complete an application, form SS5, at a social security office.  The Social Security Office works with the SEVIS system and timing is important. Participants cannot apply if they have not checked in with your sponsor to validate their visa. The Social Security Office requires that the visa be validated for at least 10 days prior to application with a program end date at least 14 days from the date of application to provide time for processing.  If Participants wait until after camp ends to apply, they will probably not be eligible to submit the application.  Please take this into consideration.

The online form is available at .  Most camps organize a day or time for participants to do this in a group and you can locate the social security office nearest you at  You will need to enter the zip code.

Participants will also need to present the following documents:

· Valid passport with J-1 visa
· Forms DS2019
· I-94 confirmation. This is either a white card issued upon entry into the US or in the case of electronic processing a copy will need printed.  To see more go to
· Employment Agreement

Participants should make a copy of all documents and keep them safe in case of loss or theft of the originals.

The Social Security Card will be mailed to the address listed on the SS5 form.  It can take anywhere from 2-12 weeks to receive the Social Security Card, however, participants are legal to work.

There have been rare occasions when a Participant is asked for a sponsor letter to submit to the social security office. As a J-1 camp counselor or summer work travel participant, they are exempt of the sponsor letter requirement as per the  Should the Social Security Officer request a letter of work authorization from the sponsor, please reference POMS Section: RM 10211.345 subsection A.

Temporary Travel Outside of the US

Both visas permit re-entry into the US but do not permit entry into another country. Participants are obligated to obtain the necessary documentation or visa as outlined between their home country and the country of the planned visit.  In addition, participants must have their sponsor sign their “Travel Validation By Responsible Officer” if they plan to visit in another country other than a contiguous territory or adjacent island.

If a participant needs this signature, they will need to contact their sponsor at least 4 weeks in advance. The sponsor’s name and contact number can be found in section 7 on the Form DS 019. A sponsoring representative must sign the Form DS2019 to indicate that they are traveling and are still in “good standing” with their employer who is expecting their return. If they leave the U.S. without this signature of “good standing” they may not be permitted to reenter the US under the J-1 visa and will forfeit their work eligibility and your insurance coverage.

If taking short trips (30 days or less) to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands during the course of a participant’s visit to the U.S., participants should hold onto their I-94; it should only be turned in when they leave the U.S. to return home.

Participant Forms



Student Status Form 2017-2018 (required for summer work travel visa applicants – including camp support staff)

SEVIS Fee Payment (this fee can be paid by anyone)

DS 160 Visa Application

DS 160 FAQs

Other Useful Links.

US Embassies Worldwide

Embassy Wait Times

Deferred Inspection

Deferred Inspection Sites

Border Wait Times

Ports of Entry

US Customs and Border Protection Information Center