The U.S. Department of State J-1 visa program is very successful and CIEE is proud to be one of its leading sponsors. At the root of this success are regulations designed to protect students and ensure that they have a worthwhile cultural exchange experience in the United States.
As with many regulations, the rules set a minimum baseline for compliance. CIEE believes that going above and beyond the minimum adds value for students, employers and communities, and enhances U.S. public diplomacy. For this reason, we maintain higher standards for the health, safety and welfare of our students.
One of the biggest benefits of working with CIEE is that we make regulatory compliance easy, for you and your students. We’ve built compliance into our policies and services so you need not worry about unintentionally breaking a rule. You don’t need to become an expert. You have CIEE for that. Any questions? Don’t hesitate to ask.
Employers must follow certain guidelines. There are rules regarding hours, pay, housing, transportation and communication with CIEE, the program sponsor. Your CIEE account manager will guide you through these when you sign on with CIEE, and make it easy to comply.
Job Approval Guidelines
Each student must have a confirmed, CIEE-approved job. For students from most countries, a job must be in place before they have their visa interview. This means that you need to hire early to ensure staffing availability. Note: Students from Australia, Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom are exempt from this requirement.
CIEE can only approve jobs that meet our guidelines:
- Jobs must be compatible with the rules, regulations, and intent of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, which focuses on cultural exchange.
- CIEE cannot approve a job if there are questions about students’ safety and well-being, or if the job prevents them from having a meaningful cultural exchange experience.
- Students must be able to balance work responsibilities with time spent exploring the local community, learning about the United States and getting to know Americans.
- Students may only work for employers whose staffing needs are seasonal or temporary in nature.
- The job must pay a salary of at least minimum wage.
Certain Jobs are Prohibited
Both CIEE and the U.S. government have high standards for student jobs. We will assess any job you submit, and must approve it before you make an offer.
Learn more about prohibited jobs
General Rules That Disqualify Jobs
- Jobs that are filled by a different type of J-1 visa (camp counselors, interns, etc.)
- Jobs obtained through staffing or employment agencies
- Jobs designated by the U.S. Department of Labor as “hazardous to youth”
- Jobs where students are hired independent contractors (using 1099 forms)
- Jobs where students works the majority of their hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
- Sales jobs that require students to invest their own money to pre-purchase inventory
- Jobs that are mostly commission-based and thus do not guarantee minimum wage
- Jobs with exposure to dangerous chemicals, such as pesticides
- Jobs that require a professional license
- Jobs that displace U.S. workers
- Jobs with employers who have experienced layoffs within the last 120 days
- Jobs with employers who have workers on strike or lockout
Specific Jobs That Are Prohibited
- Domestic help positions in private U.S. households, such as au pair, servant, gardener, or chauffeur
- Modeling or jobs in the adult entertainment industry
- Jobs on casino gaming floors
- Jobs in warehouses, factories/manufacturing, moving companies, or catalog/online distribution centers
- Jobs in the fisheries industry
- Jobs at mall kiosks or carts
- Jobs as operators or drivers of vehicles or vessels for which drivers’ licenses are required
- Operators of pedicabs, rolling chairs, other passenger carrying vehicles for hire, and/or vehicles requiring a commercial driver’s license
- Farm or ranch jobs
- Jobs with traveling carnivals / concessions
- Jobs providing clinical care, medical services or involving patient contact, hands-on therapy, counseling, administering treatment or making diagnoses of medical, psychiatric or psychological patients, or veterinary work involving hands-on care
- Jobs as ship or aircraft crew members or as pilots, except as crew members on ships that travel only within domestic U.S. waters
- Jobs as teachers, teaching assistants, or coaches
- Jobs entailing sustained physical contact with customers, such as, body piercing, tattoo parlor work, or massage)
- Jobs with domestic cleaning companies
CIEE takes our responsibilities as a sponsor very seriously. These include:
- Screening students prior to selection
- Providing orientation for our program and life in America
- Vetting job placements for compliance
- Providing students access to opportunities for cultural exchange
- Monitoring students’ health, safety and welfare
- Checking in monthly with students
Regulations for Students
Students visiting the United States as part of the J-1 visa program must register with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). They need to follow up with monthly check-ins..
While SEVIS compliance is a student’s responsibility, it is in your best interest to make sure it happens. Otherwise, your student could be sent home, and you could lose a valuable member of your team!