InterExchange is a nonprofit organization with more than 40 years of experience dedicated to promoting cultural awareness through a wide range of affordable and exciting work & travel, professional training, internship, au pair, camp, language learning, and volunteer programs within the U.S. and abroad. InterExchange is designated by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor the J-1 Visa for people from around the world who would like to engage in cultural exchange by visiting the U.S. for a defined period of time. We also connect U.S. citizens with work and volunteer opportunities that enable them to learn about life in other countries.
We encourage all our participants and professional colleagues to learn about The Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, also known as the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. This important act enables the Government of the United States to:
- increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange;
- strengthen the ties which unite us with other nations by demonstrating the educational and cultural interests, developments, and achievements of the people of the United States and other nations, and the contributions being made toward a peaceful and more fruitful life for people throughout the world;
- promote international cooperation for educational and cultural advancement; and thus assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations between the United States and the other countries of the world.
Our J-1 Visa participants and their hosts must follow all regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of State and maintain contact with InterExchange throughout their selected programs. We guide international visitors to best take advantage of the cultural opportunities offered by their local host communities in the U.S. Similarly, we encourage U.S. host families and employers to promote cultural learning by introducing international visitors to uniquely American values, customs, history and activities while simultaneously learning about the countries and cultures of visiting participants. Strengthening these relationships makes achieving the goals of mutual cultural exchange possible and allows us to build a global community—one person at a time.
InterExchange Camp USA places international participants, ages 18-28, in U.S. summer camps in counselor or support staff positions. InterExchange also sponsors visas for returning staff or for participants who have found their own camp jobs. The Camp Counselor J-1 Visa is valid for up to four months. The program runs between May 15 and September 15.
Au Pair USA is a 12-month program that gives young people, ages 18-26, the opportunity to experience the U.S. by living with an American host family and providing child care. In return for their services, au pairs receive room, board, a weekly stipend, accident and sickness insurance, airfare, and an educational allowance to use toward college-level courses. This program can be extended for an additional six, nine, or 12 months after successfully completing the original 12-month program.
Career Training USA assists international students and young professionals, ages 18-38, with J-1 Visa sponsorship for internships and practical training programs in the U.S. Candidates may apply for the J-1 Intern or Trainee Visa if they have already secured an appropriate position in the U.S. International students and recent graduates may apply as Interns and pursue an internship for up to 12 months in a field related to their academic field of study. International working professionals may apply as Trainees and pursue training programs for up to 18 months in a field related to their occupational background. To be eligible, participants’ education and work experience must have been earned outside the U.S.
Work & Travel USA offers international university students ages 18-28 the opportunity to live and work in the U.S. for up to four months during their breaks from university classes. Students work in seasonal and temporary positions in hotels, inns, amusement parks, national parks, retail stores and ski resorts, among other types of businesses. They receive a wage, assistance with housing, accident and sickness insurance, program support and an optional month for travel to explore the United States. Work & Travel USA also offers a 12-month program for citizens of Australia and New Zealand.
Working Abroad enables U.S. citizens, generally ages 18-30, to build diverse work experiences overseas. Opportunities include au pair, English language instruction, work and travel, and volunteer abroad placements. We offer programs in Australia, Africa, Asia, South America and numerous European countries.
The InterExchange Foundation was established in 2007 to provide grant funding to motivated young Americans who contribute to worthy work or volunteer projects abroad. The Working Abroad Grant supports participants of select InterExchange Working Abroad programs, and the Christianson Grant supports individuals who have sought out and arranged their own long-term work abroad programs. Many students study abroad every year, but far fewer take advantage of the opportunity to work, intern, or volunteer overseas. By providing financial assistance to talented candidates, we hope to encourage young Americans to discover the world and benefit from the unique and enriching insights one can only gain from living and working abroad.
InterExchange is proud to work with International Cooperator (IC) companies and organizations in more than 60 countries. Our IC network represents a cross-section of the most exceptional and trusted companies involved in promoting and recruiting for cultural exchange programs.
Our ICs introduce InterExchange programs to prospective participants in their home countries and emphasize the benefits of spending time in the U.S. to expand their professional and personal experiences. ICs collaborate with us to fulfill the goals of cultural exchange, helping our international participants enjoy learning opportunities in the U.S. while also making it possible for host employers and families to meet and learn about people from all over the world. One of the key responsibilities ICs fulfill is to recruit, pre-screen and select applicants who meet visa eligibility requirements and are prepared to make the most of the cultural exchange experience when working with host employers, families and host communities.
In addition to providing ICs with detailed information and guidance for marketing our programs in their home countries, we also provide content for orientations to teach participants about life in the U.S. and prepare them for adapting to a new culture and country. Each in-bound international participant is interviewed by either InterExchange staff or an IC to evaluate the candidate’s ability to be successful on the program. Every IC is an important part of the process for making sure that all participants are equipped for the benefits as well as the challenges of joining one of our cultural exchange programs.
The InterExchange Camp USA program allows selected university students, teachers, bona fide youth workers and individuals with specialized skills to gain a greater understanding of the United States via an eight- to 15-week program at an American summer camp. The program allows participants to serve as as a counselor or support staff, get paid a stipend, develop lifelong friendships, experience the culture of the United States while sharing their own, and improve their English language abilities. It also provides them with the opportunity to work alongside American peers and travel to other parts of the country after completing their camp placements. After their assignment in the United States, participants return to their home countries with greater maturity, cultural intelligence, and improved English language skills as well as enhanced knowledge and appreciation of the U.S.
All of the information in this handbook is divided chronologically. Before you begin recruiting, please read the entire manual. Every section contains valuable information, policies, and procedures that you will need to understand when creating a plan for the coming year. Please call or email us if you have questions. As the season progresses, you will need to re-read each section to ensure that you are keeping up with all of your responsibilities and giving your applicants accurate information.
Thank you for helping InterExchange Camp USA provide a positive cultural exchange experience for international participants from your country!
Counselors will have frequent contact with campers and will be responsible for the safety and welfare of a group of campers.
From the U.S. Department of State CFR 62.30: In order to promote diverse opportunities for participation in educational and cultural exchange programs, the Department of State designates exchange sponsors to facilitate the entry of foreign nationals to serve as counselors in U.S. summer camps. These programs promote international understanding by improving American knowledge of foreign cultures while enabling foreign participants to increase their knowledge of American culture. The foreign participants are best able to carry out this objective by serving as counselors per se, that is, having direct responsibility for supervision of groups of American youth and of activities that bring them into interaction with their charges. While it is recognized that some non-counseling chores are an essential part of camp life for all counselors, this 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.
Participant eligibility. Participation in camp counselor exchange programs is limited to foreign nationals who:
- Are at least 18 years of age;
- Are bona fide youth workers, students, teachers, or individuals with specialized skills
Support staff work in utility positions such as kitchen, housekeeping, and maintenance. They ensure that the camp is clean, the campers are well fed and everything around camp is operating properly.
From the U.S. Department of State: The purpose of this program is to provide foreign college and university students with opportunities to interact with U.S. citizens, experience U.S. culture while sharing their own cultures with Americans they meet, travel in the United States, and work in jobs that require minimal training and are seasonal or temporary in order to earn funds to help defray a portion of their expenses. Employment is of a seasonal nature when the required service is tied to a certain time of the year by an event or pattern and requires labor levels above and beyond existing worker levels. Employment is of a temporary nature when an employer’s need for the duties to be performed is a one-time occurrence, a peak load need, or an intermittent need. It is the nature of employers’ needs, not the nature of the duties that is controlling. Duration of participation. Summer Work Travel participants are authorized to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program for up to four months during the long break between academic years as determined by the Department of State. Extensions of program participation are not permitted.
Participant Eligibility. To participate in the Camp USA program as support staff, students must:
- Be between 18 and 28 years old at the time of the interview.
- At the time of application, be enrolled in and attending an accredited institution of tertiary (university) education as a full-time student. You are responsible for confirming student status before the home country interview. If you have ANY questions about what “tertiary” education or “full-time” means, please contact InterExchange before the interviews.
- Have sufficient proficiency in the English language, as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency to be able to successfully participate in the program and function on a day-to-day basis.
- Have sufficient Accident & Sickness insurance coverage, arranged through InterExchange.
- Be able to work for at least eight weeks.
- Have a genuine interest in meeting American people and experiencing U.S. culture.
Note: You are responsible for obtaining specific up-to-date Summer Work Travel guidelines from the U.S. Embassy where students will apply and must be familiar with U.S. Department of State Regulations; please visit the U.S. Embassy website for the embassy or consulate near you.
Someone who has independently secured a position with a camp in the U.S. and needs assistance in obtaining the necessary paperwork to apply for a J-1 Visa. A Self-Placement participant must NOT have applied through the Camp Placement program. All Self-Placement participants are responsible for the cost of international travel and any domestic transportation to their employer. All of the information about Self-Placement participants is in Chapter 9 of this handbook. Please consult chapter 9 if you have questions about the Self-Placement program and eligibility requirements; the other policies in this manual do not necessarily apply to Self-Placement participants.
Returning Placement Participant
If a participant wishes to return to the same camp in a subsequent year, he or she should do so as a Returning Placement applicant and make arrangements with the original camp . Returning Placement participants follow the same procedures and policies as Self-Placement participants.