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J-1 Program Information

The J-1 Visa Summer Work Travel program provides opportunities for university students from other countries to come to the United States to share their culture with people they meet here – and to learn about life in America. Students are able to offset the cost of participation through temporary work in seasonal jobs. Several thousand visit Cape Cod every summer and are part of the summer tradition on the Cape. The Summer Work Travel program is administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The State Department designates sponsor organizations to operate the program.

The sponsor organization is the main point of contact for the students who participate in the Summer Work Travel program and the businesses that employ the students. Some of the sponsor organizations that are active on Cape Cod are: Alliance Abroad Group, CCI/Greenheart, CCUSA, CHI, CIEE, Intrax, InterExchange and Spirit Cultural Exchange. J-1 students or employers that need help or information should call the sponsor – they are there to help!

For Students
Welcome to Cape Cod! We are very excited that you are here and we look forward to sharing and learning with you. If you have any questions or problems while you are in the United States, please remember that your U.S. sponsor is there to help you. It’s important that you contact them to get their advice. We hope that you will find lots of useful information about life on Cape Cod on this website!

For J-1 Employers
Businesses that employ J-1 Summer Work Travel program participants should be aware of the regulations that govern the program and have a relationship with the visa sponsor organization.

Employers should:

- Adhere to all applicable regulatory provisions that govern this program, and all visa sponsor policies. Confirm jobs are seasonal/temporary in nature and will not displace year-round positions for American workers.

- Agree to not accept compensation from any party in return for offering these jobs. Confirm salary and other terms at minimum meet all federal, state and local minimum wage and overtime requirements, and are commensurate with those of U.S. counterparts.

- Confirm that participants will be covered by Worker’s Compensation insurance.

- Abide by all local, state, and federal health, safety and employment laws.

- Notify visa sponsor of participant arrivals, failure of any participant to arrive as expected, performance issues, significant changes to employment terms, if any participant leaves before his/her scheduled end date, any emergency involving participants, or any situation that impacts the welfare of participants.

The rules and regulations are the same regardless of whether the employer is named on the form DS-2019 or "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status".

Please remember that the Summer Work Travel program is a cultural exchange program. The experience that students have in the workplace is very important and influences their perception of the United States. Employers that create a positive environment for these young international visitors are excellent ambassadors for the U.S. If you have any questions about the program or a specific student, please contact the student’s sponsor – named on the DS-2019 form.

H2B Program Information
The H-2B visa program allows U.S. businesses to lawfully employ foreign workers, on a temporary basis (up to 10 months), predicated upon the seasonal, peak load, intermittent or one-time needs of the employer’s business, so long as U.S. workers are unavailable for the position.

Generally, to sponsor a foreign worker for an H-2B visa, petitioning employers must demonstrate the following: (1) a business cycle (revenues) reflecting seasonality or a temporary period of need for workers in a specific occupation and at a specific location; (2) an attestation to pay the prevailing wage (set by the U.S. Department of Labor) and to create no adverse conditions to U.S. workers; and (3) proof that U.S. workers are not able, willing, or available for the position or to fill all positions needed.

For H2B Employees
Know your rights as an H2B worker:

Worker’s Rights Under H2B in English

Worker’s Right Under H2B in Spanish

- Your employer is to supply at least 30 hours of paid work per week of employment.

- Workers are to receive prevailing wage; this is the wage you were told when the job was offered to you and that you told the U.S. Embassy during your appointment. You are only allowed to work the job that you are brought here to do. Your employer cannot place you at another job or work location. H2B workers are to be paid the prevailing wage. Your employer must deduct lawful taxes from your paychecks.

- Employers cannot make you pay for any of the expenses they paid under the H2B job.

- If you are terminated, your employer is required to offer return transportation to your home country.

- You should keep a record of the hours worked so you can check your paychecks.

If you have questions, you can call U.S. Department of Labor at 1-866-487-9243 or go to the web site (link to

Housing Information
It is very difficult to find housing on Cape Cod during the summer months. Some employers offer housing for J1 students; many do not. So, it is important that you start to look for housing as soon as you have a confirmed job. Most importantly, you need to have secured housing BEFORE you arrive on Cape Cod. Don’t arrive in the U.S. without any pre-arranged housing. Check with your sponsoring agency and your Cape Cod employer to see if they can help you locate summer housing. Tenant’s Rights

If you find yourself without a place to stay please find a temporary room at a nearby motel and call your sponsor as soon as possible. If you have a problem locating housing or if the housing you located is not suitable, you should address all questions and concerns to your U.S. sponsoring organization. Your Form DS-2019 contains the name and telephone number of your sponsor. To locate a designated sponsor, please visit the State Department’s list of designated sponsors.

Emergency/Temporary Housing
If you arrive in Hyannis and you have no transportation to your housing -- you can stay at the Hyannis Travel Inn, which is about a 10-minute walk from the Transportation Center.  They generally have a special rate for J-1 students, and they are very helpful.  If you arrive in the Lower Cape area and your accommodations are not yet available, you may be able to make arrangements to stay for a few nights at the Youth Hostels in Eastham, Hyannis and Truro, based on their availability.  However, they do not open for the season until mid-June.

Safety & Security
Each town on Cape Cod has its own Police Department and Fire Department. They are always ready to serve you. You do not need to pay for their services, and you can trust them. In an emergency, dial 911. If you prefer to speak with someone in a non-emergency situation, you can visit any police station; there is always a representative at the front desk. Cape Cod's regional government also has a Human Rights Commission. If you think that you have been involved in an act of discrimination, contact

Health Insurance
All Summer Work Travel students have insurance in effect which covers the exchange visitor for sickness or accident while they are participating in the program. There are various plans available and the U.S. healthcare system can be particularly difficult for foreign visitors to navigate. The student’s visa sponsor can help the student if they have questions about the plan that they have purchased.

Obtaining Social Security Numbers
1. Original documentation must be provided, Passport, Letter from sponsor on sponsor letterhead with original signature authorizing employment

2. Students should wait a few days after arriving and registering with SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) before coming to SSA to insure that all government systems interfaces have taken place.

3. Employer’s should begin to pay the students when the students provide them with their receipt from Social Security that their application has been accepted and is being processed.

4. Students need to have a suitable mailing address where they can receive their Social Security card 7-10 days after filing their application.

Social Security Fact Sheet

The Social Security Administration Office is located at 100 Independence Drive, Suiite 4, in Hyannis MA. Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9:00-3:00 and Wednesday 9:00-12:00. The phone number to make an appointment is (866) 467-0440.

What do you need to bring? DS-2019; Passport & J-1 Visa; I-94 card; Letter from your sponsor to the Social Security Officer; RM 00203.480 Evidence for an SSN Card for an Exchange Visitor (J-1 and J-2); Social Security Form SS-5 Application that can be filled out and printed

Boston to Cape Cod:
CapeFLYER weekend passenger train service from South Station Boston to Buzzards Bay and Hyannis is provided by the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Visit their web site at for schedule information. Logan Express transportation services from Logan Airport and South Station Boston to Sagamore, Hyannis and Provincetown, is provided by the Plymouth & Brockton Bus Lines. Visit their web site at for schedule information. Transportation services from Boston to Bourne and Falmouth is provided by Peter Pan Bus Lines. Visit their web site at for schedule information.

Transportation on Cape Cod: The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority is the Cape’s public transportation system, providing year round fixed route transportation services in all fifteen towns of Cape Cod, and provides additional summer services to accommodate the many summer visitors and student workers who visit to our beautiful region to work and play. The Cape Cod RTA number one focus is “customer service” and provides a trip planner on their web site, has an unlimited monthly pass program, utilizes an electronic fare system, along with the NextBus technology for next bus and schedule information. The Cape Cod RTA also provides a general public door-to-door Dial-A-Ride Transportation service that can be used for any purpose, and operates Monday through Saturday with limited service on Sundays. A Boston Hospital Transportation service, that provides transportation to 16 Boston Hospitals Monday through Friday. This is a ride by appointment service that is open to Cape Cod residents and visitors. For more information visit, or call them at 800-352-7155, or visit their Information Booth at the Hyannis Transportation Center.

Biking on Cape Cod: Biking is a popular mode of transport on Cape Cod and we have many bike paths. However, the roads can be very dangerous.  Barnstable County Commission and MassBike are running a bike safety campaign throughout the summer.  There will be several areas where seasonal workers can obtain bike lights, which are crucial to keeping you safe on the Cape’s unlit roads. Check with your employer, local police, local library and the RTA for a free bike light.

Transportation to the Islands: Transportation Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Islands is provided by the Steamship Authority, visit their website at and Hy-Line Cruises, visit their website at Also, via Cape Air - visit their website at