J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa – Camp Counselors

1. Definition of J-1 Exchange Visitor Camp Counselor. 22 C.F.R. § 62.4 (h).

A J-1 Exchange Camp Counselor is an individual selected to be a counselor in a summer camp in the United States who imparts skills to American campers and information about his or her country or culture.

2. Purpose of J-1 Camp Counselor Program. 22 C.F.R. § 62.30 (a).

The purpose of the J-1 Camp Counselor Program is to promote international understanding by improving American knowledge of foreign cultures while enabling foreign participants to increase their knowledge of American culture. This program provides foreign participants with an opportunity to have direct responsibility for supervision of groups of American youth.

The J-1 Camp Counselor program is not intended to assist American camps in bringing in foreign nationals to serve as administrative personnel, cooks, or menial laborers, such as dishwashers or janitors.

3. Criteria for J-1 Exchange Visitor Camp Counselor. 22 C.F.R. § 62.30 (b).

To participate in a J-1 Camp Counselor exchange program, a foreign national must be:

  • At least 18 years of age; and
  • Either a bona fide youth worker, student, teacher, or individual with specialized skills.

4. Location of J-1 Camp Counselor Activity. 22 C.F.R. § 62.30 (d).

J-1 Camp Counselor sponsors may only place participants in the J-1 Camp Counselor program at camping facilities that are:

  • Accredited;
  • A member in good standing of the American Camping Association;
  • Officially affiliated with a nationally recognized non-profit organization; or
  • Have been inspected, evaluated, and approved by the sponsor.

5. Duration of J-1 Camp Counselor Participation. 22 C.F.R. § 62.30 (h).

Participation in a J-1 Camp Counselor program is limited to four months. Furthermore, a sponsor must limit the number of times a camp counselor has participated in its J-1 exchange program.

6. J-1 Camp Counselor Sponsor Obligations. 22 C.F.R. § 62.30

J-1 Camp Counselor Sponsors must provide participants with orientation materials prior to their departure from their home country. These materials must contain detailed information regarding:

  • Duties and responsibilities relating to the participant’s service as a camp counselor;
  • Contractual obligations relating to the participant’s acceptance of a camp counselor position; and
  • Financial compensation for the participant’s service as a camp counselor.

Additionally, J-1 Camp Counselor Sponsors must provide program participants with:

  • Pay and benefits equal to those offered to American camp counselors; and
  • A phone number which allows 24 hour immediate contact with the Sponsor.