March 14, 2008

What you never knew you needed to know about immigration

J-1 INTERNS/TRAINEES: Opportunities abound for hotels to bring in foreign nationals for training opportunities within their organization. The U.S. Department of State oversees a program (J-1 program) that allows foreign nationals to come into the United States for a twelve month period of time to train in the hospitality and tourism industry. Participants are exposed to American techniques, methodologies and expertise, and expand their own existing knowledge and skills. Some jobs, while located within the hospitality sector, may in fact be management training positions and allow the person to remain for eighteen months instead of twelve.

Individuals may be either an “intern” or a “trainee.” An intern must be either currently enrolled in and pursuing academic studies abroad, or have graduated from an overseas institution no more than twelve months prior to starting the exchange program. A trainee must either have a degree or professional certificate from a post-secondary academic institution abroad and at least one year of related work experience acquired outside the U.S., or have five years of related work experience acquired outside the U.S. She must also speak sufficient English to accomplish the training. Host organizations must complete a Training/Internship Placement Plan, which sets forth the specifics for the training program. They must provide continuous supervision and periodic evaluation for each trainee/intern and impart skills, knowledge, and competence to the foreign national.

Remember, interns and trainees cannot be placed in unskilled or casual labor positions, or positions involving more than 20 percent clerical work. However, they can come in to learn management positions, such as sales and marketing manager, director of food and beverage, or housekeeping manager. These are just a few of the positions in a hotel that may be amenable to a training position.

I-9 REGULATION CHANGE: The Dept. of Justice will increase civil fines against employers who violate federal immigration laws. Beginning March 28, 2008, these fines will increase by as much as $5,000.

By: Martha James