The Chamber hosted a meeting today to equip our business community as J1 hosts. A J1 visa is a special student visa that brings college students from all over the world to experience life in another country. They are assigned a “host” employer with a summer job according to the time brokered between their university and the host agency.
The host agencies typically start processing applications six to eight months in advance, placing students with host employers and helping the hosts understand the requirements of salary, housing and collaboration with support from the local Chamber. In many tourist economies the Chamber of Commerce plays a key role in creating welcome events for the students, connecting them with local banks and state department resources and helping to create a great summer experience.
This summer the Chamber wants to serve our business community by hosting a welcome event, creating a web page for J1 student information and a private Facebook group where employers and students can share housing and other needs in a safe, private chat.
Clay Lewis with InterExchange and Jamie Banjak with GeoVisions were key resources on the call this week. Clay discussed some of the limitations of the program last year and progress with more visas available this year than what we saw in summer of 2021. Consulates and partners are prepared to work together to make the program available in some of the countries where embassies remained closed last year. Many have reopened with very strict requirements for COVID safety, including vaccinations and proof of a negative test within 24 hours of travel. We discussed on this call several great ideas that other towns have implemented to serve both host and student.
We have a growing list of volunteers who want to serve on the J1 welcome wagon and you are welcome to hop on. We can use help in planning the welcome event and communicate with community groups who want to participate in promoting home hosts following a foreign exchange policy or just. If you are interested in being involved or just getting access to resources, you can find our information page on the J1 Welcome Program front and center at esteschamber.org or call 970-480-7552.
Frontline: Businesses aim to be better J1 hosts – Estes Park Trail-Gazette