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How to Host: Arrivals, On Program, and Beyond
How to Host: Arrivals, On Program, and Beyond

How to Host: Arrivals, On Program, and Beyond

Your counselors have been selected, their visas have been approved, and they have traveled to the United States! What’s next?

Arrival to Camp

Your counselors will follow the travel instructions you wrote in your camp profile. If you will be sending someone to meet them at their arrival airport, we suggest that the staff member meeting them is easily identifiable. Provide the arriving counselors with as much information as possible about the person picking them up – and have them wear a camp shirt or have a sign welcoming them to camp! Remember, these are young people traveling across the globe alone – they need to be certain that they are connecting with the right person on arrival so they feel safe. If groups of staff will be arriving at similar times, or waiting in a designated pick up area, it is good practice to connect them with each other prior to travel so that they know they are not there alone. 

The first few days at camp are critical for your international counselors. Please be sure to allow them the chance to connect with their families during times that make sense for the time zone in their home country. This will be the first time that many of them travel abroad, and they will want to be able to reassure their families that all is well and that they may have less access to their devices over the coming weeks. 

SEVIS Activation

Your counselors are responsible for informing InterExchange of their arrival to camp. Please remind them to log in to their InterExchange account to complete their arrival check in as soon as they get to camp! There are three simple steps, but they will need the camp’s physical address and phone number in order to complete this. Once they have completed all three steps, InterExchange will activate them in SEVIS as soon as possible.

Employment Verification

InterExchange has compiled the following information as a general resource. Tax laws are subject to change. InterExchange program staff are not tax advisers and cannot assume any responsibility for tax issues a camp might have with its international participants. We encourage all camps to contact the IRS or a tax adviser for assistance and more up-to-date information.

Work Authorization

  • Each participant is authorized to work legally under his or her J-1 Visa status.
  • This visa allows the participant to work only between the dates listed in Section 3 of the participant’s DS-2019 Form. These dates are taken directly from the offer you sent the participant through your InterExchange account. If any date changes occur, we need to be notified to ensure that all necessary documents are updated.

Note: An InterExchange participant is only authorized to work at his or her assigned camp and is prohibited from working anywhere else during the program.

Documentation for Your Records

Upon your international staff’s arrival, you should make photocopies of the following documents and keep them on file. We suggest allocating some time during your staff orientation to organize this paperwork.

  • Passport photo page
  • Electronic I-94 arrival record (Can be located and downloaded here)
  • J-1 Visa (sticker on passport page)
  • DS-2019 Form
  • Completed I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form

The information collected will serve as verification of the participant’s identity and his or her eligibility to work while in the United States. Keep all records on file for at least three years or as recommended by the IRS and U.S. Department of Labor.

Form I-9

All participants should fill out an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form after arriving at their camps. We have provided a sample of a typical I-9 for an InterExchange Camp USA student.

i-9 Form
i-9 Form

I-9 Section 1

All participants are legal aliens authorized to work. Admission numbers are located on their I-94 cards.

I-9 Section 2

Use a passport and electronic I-94 arrival record as a List A document. For List C documents, you should use the DS-2019 number and the program end date (DS-2019 form expiration date located in Box 3).

For complete information about filling out the I-9, please refer to the Handbook for Employers — Instructions for Completing Form I-9, published by the USCIS. You can download a PDF of the handbook from their website.

Taxes and Withholding

Federal, State, and Local Taxes

All InterExchange participants must pay federal, state and local taxes. They are not exempt. While they are here, participants of the InterExchange Camp USA program are exchange visitors in the non-resident alien tax category. Please consult a tax professional for the most recent tax regulations.

FICA and FUTA Withholdings

Under IRS Code Section 3121 (B)(19), all non-resident aliens on J-1 Visas are exempt from paying FICA (Social Security) and FUTA (federal unemployment taxes) taxes during their first two calendar years in the U.S. Since all of our counselors are only able to work for four months, all are exempt from these withholdings. Please consult a tax professional to see if counselors are exempt from state unemployment taxes in your state.

Completing the W-4 Form

All exchange visitors must fill out a W-4 (employee withholding allowance certificate).

When filling out the current W-4 form it is recommended that InterExchange Camp USA participants follow Supplemental Form W-4 Instructions for Nonresident Aliens as provided by the IRS.

Please provide guidance on when and how they will receive their W-2, and urge them to file a tax return as required by the IRS.

Filing a Tax Return

All participants are required to file for U.S. income tax by April 15 of the year following the year in which they work. To file for a federal tax return, participants will fill out and send a 1040-NR (non-resident aliens with no dependents) tax form along with copies of their W-2 forms.

Participants can obtain the 1040-NR and instructions from the IRS website. Refund checks are mailed to participants in their home countries.

If your participants have any questions regarding the process, they can view our participant resource page on filing tax returns.

W-2 Forms

Please send W-2 forms to students at their permanent addresses in their home countries. We recommend that you have students address envelopes with their permanent addresses at the time you have them fill out their W-4. You can also distribute these digitally.

For IRS publications please contact your local IRS office or download them on the IRS website.

IMPORTANT: Do not send W-2 forms to the InterExchange New York office. InterExchange is not responsible for sending this information to participants.

Social Security and Identification Numbers

In order for international J-1 staff to file tax returns at the end of the year, they should obtain a Social Security number. U.S. government regulations dictate that Social Security offices confirm each applicant’s legitimacy with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), which may delay processing. We ask that you allow your staff to apply as early as possible.

Your international staff are required to apply for a  Social Security number. Counselors who have participated before should already have their numbers from previous years. For those that do not, please assist them with transportation to the closest Social Security office during the first week of camp. Use the Social Security Office Locator, to find the closest office to your camp. Social Security cards are mailed from the processing center to participants at the address provided on the application form approximately 4 to 6 weeks after applications are submitted. We recommend participants use their camp’s mailing address when filling out their Social Security Application. 

Participants are allowed to work and be paid before their Social Security card arrives. 

After applying, participants will be given a Social Security letter of receipt, which serves as proof that the participant has applied for a Social Security card. Participants should provide you with this letter of receipt and maintain a copy for their own records. Please notify your payroll company that participants may begin work with proof of application.

If a participant does not receive his or her Social Security card within 6 weeks, you should have them contact Social Security at 1.800.772.1213 to find out the status of the application.

Important: Participants will not be issued a Social Security number if they have not registered in SEVIS. They must register as soon as they arrive in the U.S. through their InterExchange online account. Participants need to wait at least 3-4 business days after registering in SEVIS before applying for a Social Security number.

There are sometimes issues or delays with a Social Security application because of security flags or issues with their name being correctly entered exactly as it is on their documents.

If your participant needs information on how to apply for their Social Security number, please have them visit our Camp USA Participant Resource page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are an employer’s responsibilities when hiring international visitors who don’t have Social Security numbers?

Advise participants that they are required to apply for a Social Security number and card. If a participant applied for but has not yet received a Social Security number, ask to see and retain a copy of the receipt letter as proof of application. You should also get the following information as completely as possible: the person’s full name, address, date of birth, place of birth, father’s full name, mother’s full maiden name, gender, and the date he or she applied for a Social Security number.

Is it legal for participants on the Camp Counselor program to start working prior to receiving their Social Security number?

Yes. Participants may start working and can be paid prior to receiving their Social Security numbers. We encourage all participants to apply for their Social Security number as soon as possible, but wait at least 3-4 days after registering in SEVIS. They should provide proof of application (a copy of the application receipt and/or a copy of the Online Social Security Number Application confirmation page) to their employer.

What if my Camp Counselor employee doesn’t have a Social Security number when wage reports (Forms W-2) are due?

Paper Filers: If the worker applied for a card but didn’t receive the number in time for filing, enter “Applied For” in Box A.

Electronic Filers: If the worker applied for a card but didn’t receive the number in time for filing, enter all zeros in the field for the SSN.

Remember to ask your employees for the number and the exact name printed on their Social Security card when he or she receives it.

Learn more on the SSA website.

What if I receive the participant’s Social Security number after I have filed my wage report?

If you receive their Social Security number after you file your wage report, file Form W-2C (Corrected Wage and Tax Statement). Learn more on the SSA website.

What if my employee returns home without receiving their Social Security number? Is there a penalty for not reporting a worker’s Social Security number?

Yes, there is a penalty for not reporting a worker’s Social Security number, but this fine is usually waived if the employer can prove reasonable cause for not reporting the Social Security number. Employers will receive Notice 972CG — or a notice of proposed penalty — and will have 45 days to respond. The employer must prove that they acted in a responsible manner and that the failure to submit a Social Security number was not due to willful neglect.

To help prove reasonable cause:

  • Collect employees’ proof of application, which can include a copy of their paper application Form SS-5 or a copy of their Online Social Security Number Application confirmation page, a copy of the application receipt (sometimes mailed after they have applied) or a signed statement from the participant stating that they have applied.
  • Document the participant’s full name, gender, address, date of birth, father’s full name, mother’s maiden name, and the date of application.
  • Make at least one solicitation for the correct Social Security number either by mail, telephone, electronically, or in person and document this solicitation and the results. Retaining a copy of Form W-4 can also be considered a solicitation for the correct Social Security number, but additional solicitations may be required.

Publication 1586 details the requirements of proving reasonable cause as well as answering additional questions regarding missing Social Security numbers. Section (m) in regulation 301.6724-1 details the procedure for seeking a waiver of the penalty.

What if my employee’s Social Security card arrives at my business after they have left?

If you have a forwarding address for the participant, please forward the card to them. At a minimum, ensure they receive the number. 

What causes delays when Exchange Visitors apply for Social Security numbers?

When Exchange Visitors apply for Social Security numbers, the Social Security Administration (SSA) verifies their documents directly with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Exchange Visitors must be listed as active in SEVIS before the SSA issues a Social Security number. Most applications are verified immediately, but there can be delays. Social Security understands that this process may affect companies who hire Exchange Visitors, but direct verification from DHS is vital to ensuring the integrity of the Social Security number.

Requesting Government Forms and Publications

InterExchange understands the complexity involved with handling the various tax codes and responsibilities. As such, we have provided the following information to assist in the search for accurate information. We suggest contacting a tax adviser for the most up-to-date information.

Internal Revenue Service

1.800.829.1040 (for individual tax questions) 1.800.829.4933 (for business tax questions) www.irs.gov

Social Security Administration

1.800.772.1213 www.ssa.gov

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

1.800.375.5283 www.uscis.gov

U.S. Department of State

202.663.1225 www.state.gov

Insurance Information

Insurance Coverage

All participants have InterExchange-arranged insurance while they are working at camp. InterExchange-arranged accident & sickness insurance meets U.S. Department of State requirements, which is part of the terms and conditions of the J-1 Visa. All participants should have information with their insurance details, including a toll free number they can call while in the U.S. regarding their coverage, claims, or recommended area physicians. The standard plan is included but participants can also upgrade to a premium plan and/or extend their coverage dates as needed.

You can find information about participant insurance here. Brochures for both insurance plans, and information on how to use it are located on that page. If your staff need to locate their insurance cards or find the contact information for the insurance company, you can help them find that on the Envisage Global Insurance Student Zone page. They will also be able to locate providers who accept their insurance at that site.

Note: Remind your staff to locate a doctor before they need one and always make copies of any bills and claim forms they submit to the insurance company.

Workers’ Compensation

As with any camp staff member, if an InterExchange Camp USA participant is hurt while working at camp, the camp’s workers’ compensation plan is expected to provide insurance coverage. Camps should assist any participant with filing workers’ compensation claims should this become necessary. InterExchange-arranged insurance will deny coverage for any claim deemed to be work-related.

InterExchange will terminate relations with any camp that does not properly file work-related injuries for participants, as false claims will negatively impact our claim ratios and force higher premiums or make the insurance difficult to obtain at reasonable prices for participants in the future.

Handling Health Issues

Please report any health issues or injuries to InterExchange as soon as possible! We want to be informed of their welfare throughout the program, and additionally, we are required to report any serious health issues to the U.S. Department of State in a timely manner. We understand that camp is hectic, but please have someone on staff notify us of any doctor or hospital visits.

It may be helpful to research the nearest in-network providers before the season starts in order to reduce the stress of a participant’s potential illness or injury. If you need more information, please contact an InterExchange representative.

Completed claim forms and the original bills can be sent by the participant, doctor, hospital or clinic directly to the insurance company. Please do not send them to the InterExchange office. InterExchange is not responsible for participants’ medical bills. Please settle all outstanding bills before participants leave camp.

Best Practices

Arrival & Orientation at Camp

Meet & Greet

First impressions are long lasting! Encourage returning staff to meet and greet new arrivals. An immediate support structure promotes smooth transitions and begins the orientation process in an effective manner. Ask your camp leadership (unit heads, program directors, etc.) to set an example by reaching out to international staff.

Orientation

Create effective orientation strategies. Use experiential exercises and role-playing examples, provide handouts and conduct meetings, rotate group composition and group sizes to encourage maximum exposure. Provide staff with enough time to process information between each orientation activity. Downtime also allows for greater participation, discussions and social interaction.

Play Time

Use traditional camp activities to educate staff further and to break up the potential monotony of orientation. It is possible your international staff members may not be familiar with popular games like capture the flag or Simon Says. This is a great time to teach them, so they can soon play with their campers! They may have a similar game they want to teach the group too.

Integrate

While you will need to set aside time to train counselors in their specific duties, you should try to conduct as much of the orientation with the entire staff as possible. Whenever you break down into smaller groups, double check that every group includes both American and international staff. 

Throughout the Summer

Basic Needs

You are responsible for providing international staff with appropriate housing, three nutritious meals a day and a stipend for the duration of their contract dates. If your camp shuts down for weekends or for a few days between sessions, please make sure that participants are not left without food or shelter during this time.

Staff Meetings

Everyone appreciates having someone to listen to them. Set aside a specific time for staff to offer feedback about camp on (at least) a weekly basis. Let them know you’re there to guide them! Whenever possible, incorporate staff suggestions into camp life. Staff meetings are also an excellent time for you to address ongoing issues with your staff.

Personal Evaluations

Take a few minutes to sit down with each staff member after a reasonable adjustment period. Encourage each person to do a verbal self-evaluation, then add your own praise and/or constructive criticism. If you are not happy with a staff member’s performance, say so! Honest, diplomatic conversations prevent future conflicts and misunderstandings. Be sure to end the meeting by offering positive reinforcement and concrete suggestions for improvement, whether related to job performance, engagement in American culture or general interactions.

Staff Lounge

A space that is designated as “camp staff only” is a nice way for staff to meet peers, relax and take time to re-energize. This is a great place to allow staff to access their electronics, or other items that are usually limited throughout the work day.

Computer or Phone Time

Provide participants with access to devices where they can email or contact friends and family back home. Please try to accommodate them in the hours when their family will be awake! Not everyone will be able to contact their families between 10 and 12 PM EST. 

Off-Camp Transportation

International staff generally do not have access to vehicles while at camp. Before the summer begins, have someone research the most time- and cost-effective ways to provide staff transportation.

Some possibilities:

  • Run a camp van into town or to the nearest bus station once a week.
  • Speak to a rental car company about discounted rates for the summer.
  • Invite staff who are off-duty to join campers going on out-of-camp trips.
  • If you provide use of bicycles, please confirm the safety of the roads and discuss bike safety with your participants. Helmets and lights must be provided if participants will use bicycles as a method of transportation.

Time away from camp relaxes and reenergizes your staff! Please try to be aware of if your International staff are getting left behind on time off. The number one complaint we see in our check ins with staff is lack of access to transportation off camp property, and an unhappy staff member may choose to leave camp early.

Laundry Services

If there is no laundry facility on camp property, please provide your staff with information on and transportation to the nearest laundromat.

At the End of the Summer

All staff members should receive any/all compensation prior to leaving camp. The compensation amount is listed on the job offer you sent to them and can be viewed at any time. Please look into the best ways to pay international staff so that they can access the money for their travels. This may be cash from their paycheck or a paycard of sorts.

Handling Staff Issues and Early Departures

Problems With InterExchange Camp USA Participants

While we arrange every placement with the best of intentions, we understand that no hiring system is foolproof. Should you experience a problem with an InterExchange participant, we ask that you take the following steps:

  1. Speak to the participant as soon as you feel there is cause for concern. Describe the problem in an honest and straightforward manner and then listen to what he or she has to say. Once you feel you completely understand the situation, tell the participant specifically how he or she can improve matters.
  2. Contact InterExchange immediately. Please do not wait to call us when you’re already at the point where you want to fire a participant. Regardless of how trivial or serious any situation may seem at the time, we like to know what is going on with our participants. If necessary, we may ask you to have the participant call us. Often, we are able to remind participants of their purpose at camp, help eliminate misunderstandings and resolve any problems.
  3. Document any and all conversations and incidents involving the participant. Have the participant sign off on all write-ups and evaluations so there is no question as to his or her understanding of the situation.
  4. Should you ultimately decide to terminate a participant, please let us know exactly when you are asking that person to leave camp. We need to speak with the participant before he or she leaves the grounds. Early, unexpected departures are a valid reason to call our emergency phone line, described below, so that we can ensure all procedures are followed and the participant is prepared for what’s next.

Early Departures

We understand that not every staff issue can be resolved, and also that sometimes participants choose to leave early themselves. In these cases, we ask that you contact InterExchange before the staff member has departed from camp. Participants should be paid for their time worked before departing camp. You will receive a refund for any placement fees based on their arrival and departure dates.

We know camps are unique communities and that you may want them to leave camp property as soon as possible, but please remember that they are young people in a foreign country and some time is required to ensure a safe transition. If at all possible, if you dismiss someone in the evening, please allow them to depart the following morning. We also ask that you allow them time to make plans for what they are doing next, and take them to a bus station, airport, or hotel upon departure from camp.

Please remember, these are young people who may be in the U.S. for the first time, and the prospect of suddenly being alone can be daunting. If you can provide advice on their travel, that would be appreciated. Consider how you would want your own child treated if they were abroad in a foreign country, and treat your former staff members with the same consideration.

Note: If you need any assistance calculating prorated compensation, please review the job offer you sent and they accepted and/or ask InterExchange for assistance. One way to calculate this is to divide the compensation amount by the number of days they were supposed to work. This will give you a daily rate that you can use to calculate the amount they earned for the actual number of days worked. At a minimum, participants must be paid $31.75 per day of work but please review the offer you sent them for the most accurate daily rate. 

Re-placement after early departure

If a participant is leaving your camp early, they may have an opportunity to receive a new placement. This could occur when a placement does not work out due to no fault of the participant, or when you as their original host would recommend them for another camp. The participant is responsible for lodging until they have secured another placement. We do not guarantee that a participant, regardless of reason for leaving, will find a second placement.

Emergencies

The health, safety and welfare of participants is the primary concern of InterExchange and the U.S. Department of State. Do not place participants in positions that can endanger their well-being or adversely affect their impressions of the U.S. or American people.

If your camp experiences an emergency involving one of our participants (e.g., accident, illness, mental, nervous disorder or fatality), call InterExchange immediately. We will provide guidance to help you manage the situation. If the emergency occurs after normal office hours (9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday-Friday) or on a weekend or holiday, you can contact a member of the InterExchange Camp USA staff at our 24-hour emergency support number: 1.800.597.1722 and follow the directions or call 917.741.5057.

Emergency room visits can be very expensive. All participants who visit the ER but are not admitted as an emergency will be charged a $250 deductible. Please advise participants to visit a doctor or urgent care first and only visit the ER if it is an actual emergency.

Severe Weather Instructions

In case of emergencies (e.g., hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, fires, terrorist attacks), you must advise participants to follow your guidance and/or that of local authorities if the guidance is different from InterExchange guidance.

The most important aspects of promoting safety are communication, preparedness and coordination. Make sure you have an emergency contingency plan and make your plan known to participants as part of their training and orientation. Timely communication with InterExchange throughout an emergency event is necessary and a requirement of hosting participants. Please always respond to InterExchange’s inquiries about the safety of participants as soon as reasonably possible.

Camps must issue emergency instructions to participants to prepare them in case of emergencies.

You must make participants aware of emergency and evacuation procedures issued by government authorities. Please also encourage compliance.