For Virginia businesses in the hospitality industry, utilizing J-1 international staff is the perfect solution to employment needs during your busiest time of year. International students arrive eager and excited to begin their exchange program, make new friends and learn new skills.
Recent regulation changes to the J-1 program require that program sponsors ensure students are engaged in cultural activities outside of their work sites.
The purpose of the J-1 Work & Travel program is to promote and facilitate international understanding, friendship and cooperation between citizens of the U.S. and other countries, by providing international students cross-cultural experiences and temporary work opportunities in the United States. Participating employers are encouraged to be active in these cross-cultural experiences by organizing events, volunteer opportunities and other activities in their areas. Some activities can include:
- Arrange after work events for your staff, including pot luck dinners, picnics and movie nights.
- Set up volunteer opportunities with local charities and organizations.
- Organize day trips to local sporting events, historic sites, national monuments and nearby landmarks.
- Ensure that your students have the opportunity to work and interact with their American coworkers; this will help to improve their English skills and allow them to form important work friendships.
Cultural learning and exchange is a central component of the Work & Travel USA Program and benefits everyone involved. Participation in the program is the first step towards creating and fostering valuable international relationships, as well as building positive word of mouth for your business. Students will often return to their home countries and share their experiences with friends, who may also wish to work for your business the following season. Providing a positive cultural exchange experience will result in a happier staff, smoother season and future closer international understanding relationships. Show your staff the best Virginia has to offer!
Leslie Colossi is the Employer Relations Associate with InterExchange, a designated J-1 Visa Sponsor for over 40 years. For business inquiries she can be reached at LColossi@interexchange.org, 212.924.0446