Securing summer help through the J-1 visa program was the topic updated by Leslie Colossi of InterExchange at the Nov. 16 Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce meeting. A main point: It’s not too early.
InterExchange Work & Travel USA matches U.S. host employers with pre-screened, English-speaking international students for short-term, seasonal jobs for up to four months. Students may travel around the U.S. for another month after they finish their work term.
One difference for 2023 is that participating workers will have received the required COVID vaccinations but will not have to be tested for COVID on arrival in this country.
Employers must provide or assist with housing. As Colossi said, the students “have to have somewhere safe and affordable to live.”
Employers choose the worker from an online data base of matches. The interactive system lets the company list available positions and hire 24 hours a day. There is no cost to qualified hosts. InterExchange can organize virtual interviews with job seekers on the employer‘s schedule.
Requirements are that the positions must be seasonal and entry-level “and allow regular interaction with American coworkers.” Also, pay and benefits must be commensurate with what is offered to U.S. counterparts. Finally, the job given to the international worker must not displace American workers.
The students come from more than 50 countries, mostly Eastern European countries, South America, Asia or the Middle East. Their ages range from 18 to 28 and they are enrolled in college.
InterExchange takes care of: testing for English fluency, obtaining the J-1 visa, the travel arrangements, accident and sickness insurance, assistance with Social security applications, and 24-hour support throughout the program.
The program does not charge employers to participate. InterExchange is nonprofit and is a J-1 visa sponsor designated by the U.S. Dept. of State to facilitate cultural exchange programs.
Ferry, Brew Tour
Keynote speaker for the meeting was newly appointed Ocean County Administrator Michael J. Fiure, who previously worked in the county’s Department of Management and Budget since 2003 and was assistant county administrator since 2015.
Fiure gave updates on projects affecting Southern Ocean County. Among them, the coming new Stafford Branch of the Ocean County Library will be a 20,000-square-foot facility located on the grounds of the Southern Ocean Service Center on Route 9 South. The project is out to bid and is expected to be awarded by the end of the year.
The county is applying for a grant for a 45-passenger ferry at the Tuckerton Seaport, larger than the current ferry that runs between the Seaport and Beach Haven in season. “It would be an added service that we don’t have here in Southern Ocean County,” Fiure said.
The county will soon announce promotion of an interactive beer trail, according to Sandra Lazarro, division director, Ocean County Business Development & Tourism.
The date was announced for the 2023 Economic Outlook Breakfast, on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 8 a.m. at The Mainland, Route 72, Manahawkin. The premiere business event will focus on “big picture economy brought to local-level interest,” said Lori Pepenella, chamber CEO.
Topics will be tech and small business grants from the state, trends for post-COVID labor issues and renewable energy initiatives. Speakers will be economist Joel Naroff of Econsult Solutions and Melanie Willoughby, executive director of NJ Business Action Center.
In other regional announcements, the annual “Shop Small” marketing campaign is online now at the chamber website visitlbiregion.com. The Shop Small advertising campaign runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 31. Chamber member businesses may contact the chamber office to have their seasonal sale or event listed. Anyone can go online to visitlbiregion.com and scroll down to “Holiday Happenings” to see sales, promotions and events listed.
Dec. 7 is the chamber Holiday Dinner Party at The Old Causeway Steak & Oyster House in Manahawkin at $55 per person by reservation to the chamber at 609-494-7211 or by email to Kate@sochamber.com.
— Maria Scandale