The camp counselor exchange visitor program is a J1 visa program in which foreign nationals may spend a summer working in the United States. Camp counselors typically work in the outdoors, where they lead children in hikes, canoe excursions, and other outdoor activities. This J1 visa program is limited to seasonal work, but eligible participants may be able to get an extension through their sponsoring organization.

J1 Visa Camp Counselor Eligibility

In order to qualify for the J1 camp counselor program, participants must meet the following requirements.

  • Age 18 or older
  • English language proficiency (well enough to supervise and interact with young Americans)
  • College or university student, youth worker, teacher, or specially skilled individual

J1 Camp Counselor Program Benefits

J1 visa camp counselor programs offer the following benefits to participants.

  • Pay and benefits, as provided by program sponsor, commensurate with the pay and benefits offered to American camp counselors
  • Opportunity to both share one’s culture and to learn about U.S. culture

J1 Camp Counselor Sponsor Requirements

J1 visa exchange visitor program sponsors for camp counselor programs are generally responsible for helping participants with their stay in the US, including ensuring participants’ eligibility for the J1 program. J1 camp counselor program sponsors must:

  • Interview applicants in person
  • Obtain references showing suitability for the job
  • Make sure program participants obtain health insurance coverage
  • Prior to traveling to the U.S., ensure that participants fully understand their duties and responsibilities as camp counselors, their contractual obligations, and financial compensation
  • Maintain the appropriate student and exchange visitor (SEVIS) records, as required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
  • Provide 24/7 emergency contact information to the participants
  • Provide the State Department’s toll-free emergency telephone number to participants
  • Provide assistance (as needed) and monitor their stay

J1 Camp Counselor Employer Responsibilities

Employers of camp counselor exchange visitors are required to pay J1 exchange visitor program participants the same wages and benefits as those offered to American employees. Camp counselors participating in the J1 visa exchange program may not work in other camp employment positions such as general camp staff like administrators, cooks, or laborers, since the purpose of the program is to offer a camp counselor experience.

Find a Camp Counselor Sponsor by visiting this list of designated sponsors for the J1 visa camp counselor program.