Staffing Concerns

April 2000

CIPRIS — Fees for Foreign Students/Staff

Late last year, the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) announced plans to extract a $95 fee from each nonimmigrant foreign student in the United States to help pay for its Coordinated Interagency Partnership Regulating International Services (CIPRIS) initiative. The new ruling will require schools and other nongovernment hosts of F-1, J-1, and M-1 nonimmigrants to collect the fee and process the paperwork it generates.

                ACA has recently been informed that the INS ruling on new fees
               will NOT be implemented this summer.

ACA camps employ approximately 16,000 J-1 nonimmigrants each year for periods ranging from two to four months. Many of these camp counselors who come to the U.S. on the J-1 visa may not be able to afford the fee or want to pay it. That means recruitment of camp counselors will be made more difficult, and it raises the specter of the camps having to absorb that cost for each counselor as well as the cost for processing the paperwork.

ACA Position

ACA opposes the implementation of the rule as proposed. ACA and its Washington representative, APCO Worldwide, continues to work with other organizations on an exemption. Supporters of the exemption are pursuing a strategy in the U.S. Senate that would incorporate exemption language in an immigration bill under consideration in the Senate. The chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration is opposed to the exemption and no action is expected in the House version of the bill. ACA is hopeful that the Senate version, containing the exemption, will survive in the House-Senate conference committee, which will be called to resolve differences between the two legislative bodies.

More Information

Visit the public policy area for the American Camping Association’s formal response to the Director of Policy Directives and Institutions Branch at the Immigration and Naturalization Service about Proposed Rule No. 1991-99, authorizing the collection of a fee on F-l, J-1, and M-1 nonimmigrants.

Social Security Numbers and International Students/Staff

Confusion still surrounds the issue of whether international students with J-1 visas (considered nonresident aliens) need to apply for a Social Security number while working at camps in the U.S. According to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations enacted in 1996, anyone who works in the U.S. and earns a salary, regardless of duration or amount, is required to file an income tax return. However, also according to the Internal Revenue Code, if nonresident aliens earn any income, deductions will be taken out of their gross income. Each person is eligible for a personal exemption of $2,750, so individuals may not owe anything if they make less than this amount.

Unfortunately, Social Security Administration (SSA) offices around the country have enforced these regulations in an inconsistent manner. Local offices may refuse to issue a social security number to a nonresident alien with a J-1 visa even though they are required by IRS code to do so. ACA continues to seek clarification on this issue. 

For more information, see the Fall 1999 issue of The CampLine, or visit public policy on ACA's web site.

Background Checks

The Volunteers for Children Act, an amendment to the National Child Protection Act of 1993, was signed into law by President Clinton on October 9, 1998. The act gives “qualified entities” the ability to request fingerprint-based national criminal history background checks of volunteers and employees. However, the voluntary nature of the law has lead to inconsistencies in states’ use of the law.

ACA accreditation standards specify that the screening process for camp counselors include a criminal background check or use of a voluntary disclosure statement if background checks are not a viable option.

Issues for camps still seem to be getting relevant data in a timely way — at a reasonable cost. Commercial checks are often too expensive for many camps, even though results are usually more timely. Camp directors need to investigate what is available to them in their states — even if the state has not mandated background checks.

Some questions to raise with local law enforcement agencies include:

  •  Do camp directors have free access (or even access at a cost) to computer
     listings of sexual offenders? 
         If so, directors need to be very careful to get as much identifying information
     as possible on the applicant. A camp got ten “hits” on one name last year, 
     but the nineteen-year-old young man did not fit the age or ethnic descriptions
     in any of the violations.
  •  Do camp directors have access to fingerprint checks? If so, how much does
     it cost? Some states have reduced rates for not-for-profit agencies or camps.
  •  What kind of background information can be obtained (scope of the information
     as well as jurisdictions covered)?
  •  Does the camp need to submit a second set of prints to get a federal check?
  •  How often does their state update its database? How often do counties 
     update their databases?
  •  How long does it take to get the information? Does their state have live-scan  (electronic) fingerprint processing? If so, how can the camp use that technology?

Other Information Resources
For additional information, visit the public policy area or check the last two issues of The CampLine. The Fall 1999 issue included an article on using commercial background
checking services. The Winter 2000 issue of The CampLine included information from the National Foundation to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse.


Originally published in the 2000 Spring issue of The CampLine.