The Exchange Visitor Program promotes mutual understanding between the people of the United States (U.S.) and the people of other countries by educational and cultural exchanges, under the provisions of U.S. law. Exchange visitors are foreign nationals who come to the United States to take part in Department of State-designated programs, such as:
Form I-9 for Exchange Visitors
Exchange visitors may work legally in the United States if the work is part of the participants’ approved program (e.g., J-1 teachers, professors, summer camp counselors, summer work travel, au pairs) or when the official program sponsor approves their employment (e.g., J-1 students). Employers may not employ a J-1 participant knowing that the exchange visitor is unauthorized to perform this type of work in the United States.
USCIS does not issue exchange visitors Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to evidence employment authorization. However, DHS issues Form I-94/I-94A indicating J-1 nonimmigrant status. Program sponsors designated by the Department of State issue and endorse Form DS-2019, which indicates the type of work an exchange visitor is authorized to do. For J-1 students, additional, informal documentation (a letter) from the program sponsor is prepared to evidence employment authorization.
For Form I-9 purposes, the following combination of documents is considered a List A document:
Record the foreign passport and I-94 numbers in Section 2 under List A of Form I-9. Write the SEVIS number and the program expiration date from Form DS-2019 in the margin of Form I-9 near Section 2. For J-1 nonimmigrant students, record information from other relevant documentation in the margin near Section 2.
We have provided additional information on some of the more popular exchange visitor programs below. For more information on the Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program, please go to http://www.travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/study-exchange.html.
Summer work travel programs
Post-secondary students may enter the United States to work and travel during their summer vacation as participants in the summer work travel program. Participants can be admitted to the program more than once, but cannot work for more than four months. Examples of possible summer work/travel jobs include positions at:
Some jobs are not permitted, such as
Only exchange visitors placed through a Department of State-designated au pair sponsor are authorized to work as an au pair. Au pairs provide child care to a host family’s children for a year in return for room and board, a weekly stipend and up to $500 in education costs.
Because the host family provides remuneration in exchange for regular child care services, the host family is the au pair’s employer and must complete Form I-9 for him or her.
Foreign academic students (F-1 nonimmigrants) cannot work as au pairs or nannies unless USCIS issues them an EAD based on severe economic hardship. This EAD will have a “C33”category code.
Each summer, camp counselors interact with groups of American youth by overseeing camp activities in the United States. Participants must be at least 18 years old and may work only as counselors for up to four months.
Once in a while, participants may have to do non-counseling duties as a part of camp life, but they do not serve as staff. They may not act as
Camp counselor positions must be at camps that are either:
Last Reviewed/Updated: 05/13/2011