New Immigration Policy Threatens to Delay J-1 Applicants' Approval to Work At Camp

To tighten national security, the Social Security Administration announced a new policy in June that will require the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to conduct immigration reviews of individuals applying for a social security number, including J-1 exchange visitors at camps.

This new policy will delay employment for possibly as long as twelve weeks for J-1 exchange visitors at camps, disrupting, if not canceling work by J-1 visitors.

Under the new system, the Immigration agency, which initially decides whether to authorize a foreign person to work in the United States, would have to verify an individual’s immigration paperwork before the Social Security Administration could process his or her application and issue a social security number. Foreign employees need social security numbers before they can be paid by employers. Federal law does not require that people have a social security number before they start working, but individuals do need social security numbers to file tax forms related to wages that they earn. Many employers cannot issue a paycheck without the appropriate tax information.

Although, J-1 individuals are not considered employees, the Internal Revenue Service mandated in January of 1997 that all international exchange students obtain a social security card. For an international summer camp counselor, who typically works at camp for two months, an additional delay in getting a social security number may result in the camp program ending before they receive a Social Security card. This could mean that many J-1 students would be unable to work at our camps.

Thousands of international exchange students work at ACA camps each year. A significant disruption in the J-1 exchange visitor program could seriously impact camps.

What Can You Do?
Visit the ACA’s Public Policy Web site for information regarding the steps to follow when making requests of the local SSA office.

What Is ACA Doing?

  1. Presently, we are working with:
    1. the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange Coalition;
    2. the international placement agencies; and
    3. APCO, ACA’s D.C.-based government affairs consultant.
  2. Efforts include:
    1. communications with key federal agency leaders; and
    2. strategic planning with APCO and the international placement agencies.

Originally published in the 2002 Fall issue of The CampLine.