Counting the Composition of the J-1 Workforce


The J-1 Visa program accommodates the needs of a very diverse set of immigrants who seek part-time opportunities inside the United States.

In 2018, the State Department allocated 330,536 J-1 Visas under twenty different programs. In general, the purpose of their visits falls into five categories: students, physicians, travelers, trainees, and young people who work as au pairs or camp counselors. According to the State Department, the vast majority of J-1 Visas go to people under the age of thirty.

The holders of these Visas bring benefits to the people and businesses of the United States. They fill jobs that might otherwise not be filled. They provide our hospitals with skilled medical professionals. They enrich the academic environment in our schools and universities. They spend a lot of money on goods and services.

The following list reports on the number of J-1 Visas issued by twenty different program purposes:

Bank accounts for j-1 program participants
Picture of card

1) Summer Work Travel: 104,512 Visas people who want to take a short-term position to fund travel across the United States. In North Carolina, you will find many young people from foreign countries who come to the area to fill positions inside companies that serve beach tourists. These workers often take jobs that employers cannot staff with US residents. Many businesses depend on the revenues from these workers to remain cash-flow positive. Travel a few blocks from the main roads in any beach town, and you will encounter several run-down motels. They rent to seasonal workers from other countries.

2) Student non-degree: 35,723 Visas. Visas for young people who want to spend time in the United States pursuing volunteer opportunities, to take a gap year, or other non-educational purposes.

3) Research scholar: 34,553 Visas. Need to spend time in the US at a specialized library or to gather qualitative field data inside the US? The research scholar J-1 may be the right answer for you.

4) Intern: 26,112 Visas. I suppose this is self-explanatory.

5) Camp counselor: 24,919 Visas. Again, self-explanatory.

6) Student secondary: 23,537 Visas: Want to ship your kid to a prep school in the United States while you vacation in Monaco? The J-1 program is your ticket to ride. Want to leave your child behind when you return to your country of origin after a long-term stay in the US? The J-1 is right for you!

7) Au pair: 20,678 Visas.

8) Short-term scholar: 18,885 Visas…a categorical complement to the research scholar program.

9) Trainee: 10,857 Visas. Many multinational corporations want to send their staff to the United States for professional development.

10) International visitor: 6,360 Visas.

11) Government visitor: 4,997 Visas.

12) Student intern: 4,887 Visas.

13) Teacher: 3,252 Visas. I know I would like my children to have a Spanish teacher from Spain instead of a Spanish teacher from Burlington. Conversely, if they are going to eat a barbecue pork sandwich, I would prefer that they go to Hursey’s  instead of Catalonia.

14) Alien physician: 2,738 Visas. Rural hospitals depend on the ability to complement their local medical staff with physicians from other parts of the world. Indeed, this is the case in just about any hospital in the country, but it’s most common in places where it is difficult to attract a US physician.

15) Student bachelor’s: 2,586 Visas.

16) Student master’s: 2,513 Visas.

17) Specialist: 1,350 Visas.

18) Professor: 1,074 Visas. See above for the teacher program.

19) Student doctorate: 999 Visas. I am surprised this is not a more significant number.

20) Student associate: 14 Visas.

These numbers demonstrate the value proposition of this program. The J-1 program brings individuals to our country who support our businesses, enrich our schools, and create demand for services and goods sold by domestic companies.

Many need to get a bank account to receive pay and to buy things. These workers will qualify for an account once they have a valid Social Security number. I have spoken with the administrative staff at several summer camps who make this a part of their annual onboarding process.

WiseWage tries to meet the demand for bank accounts for J-1 workers. To date, we have found that J-1 workers will be approved for our Empower bank account.

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