2018 Public Policy Update: Cultural Exchange Program Visas, CPIA, Camps on Federal Lands

Cultural Exchange Program Visas — Camp Counselor and Summer Work Travel Programs

  • In March, ACA’s volunteer leadership traveled to Washington for discussions with top State Department staff about the necessity of J-1 Visa participants for America’s camps. The quality cultural exchange experiences for camps and the J-1 Visa participants are always a top priority for State Department officials.


It's ironic that I've spent this fall encouraging Americans to advocate for the White House not to drastically reduce or eliminate J-1 visas for camp cultural exchange programs while also keynoting at the 3rd China Camp Education Conference (CCEC) and representing ACA at the 11th International Camping Congress (ICC). Camp cultural exchange has been a key component of American diplomacy and deeply enriching summer camp experiences for decades. The J-1 exchange visitor program was introduced under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961).

Camp Includes Me: Where Do We Go From Here?

This feature article is the first of an ongoing series of articles in Camping Magazine that will focus on inclusion, diversity, and cross-cultural agility to share in our individual communities and out in the world.

This past February, many of us were able to participate in a new educational track at our ACA National Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico — Camp Includes Me. It was a phenomenal and timely experience as camp professionals from across the country, and the world, came together to focus on diversity, inclusion, and cross-cultural agility.

Visas for International Staff and Campers

Annually, nearly 30,000 international students provide cultural exchange as staff at camps in the United States.  International campers also provide an important aspect of cultural exchange as they live side-by-side in US camps with American campers.  The US Department of State regulates the granting of Visas for both staff and campers.  

International Camp Staff

All international visitors to the United States travel on visas.  Generally, international camp staff travel on a J-1 cultural exchange visa.  

International Staff - Best Practices

Get information about J-1 Visa Camp Counselor and Summer Work Travel Programs, as well best practices and resources for international camp staff and camp cultural exchange.

New Opportunity to Meet With the U.S. Department of State

The U.S. Department of State will be participating in the American Camp Association National Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico on February 23, 2017 from 10:30 am - 11:45 am.

Social Security for International Staff

ACA Position

American Camp Association urges camps to abide by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruling and obtain Social Security numbers for all international staff.

Immigration Reform - Impact on Camps Utilizing Cultural Exchange Visitors

The most recent changes to Immigration Law in the US were enacted in 2013.  It is anticipated that the US Department of State will again consider J-1 Visa Cultural Exchange regulations in 2016.  Until then, consider the 2013 changes: