A growing number of employers in North Carolina are using J-1 workers to replace other employees. These workers come to the U.S. on a J-1 visa sponsored by a cultural exchange agency, and are placed with employers for a temporary period. Some of the most common J-1 jobs are au pair, camp counselor, teacher, and intern or trainee in various industries.

What is a J-1 visa?
J-1 visas were created to bring people to the United States from other countries for the purpose of cultural exchange. Unlike other temporary foreign worker programs, the J-1 program is administered by the Department of State rather than the Department of Labor. Over the years, the J-1 program has become a ready source of low skilled labor for many employers. In North Carolina, J-1 workers are placed for employment in hotels, retail operations, schools, and many other industries.

What are my rights as a J-1 worker?
J-1 workers are covered by the same labor and employment laws as other workers in the United States. This means you have the right to be paid the minimum wage (currently $7.25 an hour), overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a single workweek, and to be provided with a safe and healthy workplace. If you are injured on the job, you are probably covered by worker’s compensation insurance. You have the right to organize a union and to take collective action with other employees to improve your wages or working conditions. You should be able to keep your passport and visa with you.