Host Company Handbook
Alliance Abroad Group supplies participating host companies with comprehensive program resources. Click the link below to view the handbook.
Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
In response to the heightened security concerns in the United States, the U.S. Government utilizes a student visa tracking system with which all our J-1 Visa participants must comply. It is quite important that you and the participant fully understand the general rules of this system. SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor Information System). The goal of SEVIS is for the government and the sponsor to know where the visa holder is at all times. Since February 2003, CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) has input the date of every student’s arrival/entry into the USA into a national database. Another expectation of this new system of border security is that you, the Host Company, provides AAG with frequent updates on who is working and who is not.
Checking in at the Start of a Program
Failure of any J-1 participant to begin participation as scheduled must be reported to AAG within 2 weeks of the scheduled start date. AAG will then verify where the participants is and must report that information to the U.S. Government within 30-days of the participant crossing the border into the
Reporting a Participant’s Change of Address
Any J-1 visa holder who fails to submit a change of current U.S. address as required is in violation of regulations and is NOT ELIGIBLE for reinstatement. That could mean losing your employee or having an employee who is not in legal status. The other important reason for helping us to get the participants to comply is that if they are not validated in SEVIS, the Social Security Administration will not issue their Social Security card. If your participants have not received their card after a few weeks, make sure that they have checked in with us through our website.
Seasonal Work (H-2B) Participants
While H-2B Seasonal Work participants are not subject to the same SEVIS procedures as the J-1 participants outlined above, there is no question that all foreign workers are subject to higher levels of scrutiny. When the H-2B workers change their address they must report it to USCIS and notify AAG. Details on how to report an address change to USCIS can be found online at http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/ar-11.htm.
Social Security Card Instructions
The participant’s authorization to participate in the program comes from the DS-2019 form. The start date noted on the DS-2019 form is when the participant may legally begin employment. However, most payroll systems require a social security number in order to process payment, so it is our shared goal to make sure that the participant obtains this card at the earliest possible date.
Due to enhanced security measures, the Social Security Administration is sending back many applications to the Department of Homeland Security for further verification, thus causing a delay in issuing these cards. Should there be such a delay in the case of one or more of your participants, we ask you to be as flexible as possible to ensure that they receive timely pay. They are perfectly legal to work, but the bureaucracy does not always move at the rate that would be most helpful to us.
The Social Security Administration website has detailed information about how you can legally report payroll earnings of these workers prior to their receipt of the social security card.
To avoid delays in the process, participants should register with SEVIS as soon as they arrive, and wait 10 days to go to the social security office. Social Security will not process any application if a participant applies less then 3 weeks from the end of the participants DS date.
Participants will need 2 copies of the following documents with them:
- Sponsor Letter or Job Offer
- DS-2019 (for J-1 participants)
- I-94 form with customs stamp
- Birth Certificate or at least one official picture ID more than one year old (If the passport and drivers license are both less than one year old, a birth certificate is required)
- J-1 visa stamp
These are the same documents participants need to be eligible to work. You should make a copy of these documents. Please encourage all participants to do the same and to keep their originals in a safe place. Lost passports or other documents should be reported to your AAG representative as soon as possible. The process of replacing lost documents can be lengthy and costly; many host companies find it helpful to keep copies of participants’ documents on file just in case.
The mailing address on the application should be your company mailing address. Barring the delays mentioned above, the Social Security Card will be sent approximately 6-8 weeks following the application. The participant should ask the administrator for a temporary certificate or form proving that he has applied for the card. This is Form SSA-5030.
A Helpful Hint
Our experience has been that if a Host Company has 100 or more participants needing to apply for a Social Security card, the local Social Security office may be willing to send a representative to your location rather than to overcrowd their local office. They may also open their offices earlier or later than regular business hours to accommodate your participants. Ask your AAG representative if either of these options might work for your organization.
Taxing Program Participants
The following information is for illustrative purposes only. All host companies should check with their accountant or tax adviser for advice on taxes. We assume no liability whatsoever for the information contained herein. IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, may be a useful document for you or the participants to consult.
J-1 Work & Travel participants are required to pay federal, state, and local city taxes. J-1 Work & Travel participants are exempt from Social Security (FICA), Medicare, Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA). Any amounts deducted for “FICA” or/and “FUTA” taxes are incorrect. (State unemployment rules vary by state).
Obtaining Participants’ Overseas Addresses
Host Companies should be sure to have the overseas home addresses of participants on file in order to send them their W-2 forms. This is especially important if participants will return to their home countries before the end of the calendar year.
I-9 Form Instructions
Participants expect Host Companies to ask them to fill out specific forms related to work. These are forms that U.S. citizens must also fill out to work. Here are some helpful tips for you to give participants on how these forms should be completed:
Employee information and verification (To be completed and signed employee at the time employment begins)
1. Enter their name (last name first, same as shown exactly on your social security card).
2. Enter their maiden name (if applicable).
3. Enter their address (street name and number).
4. Enter City, State, and Zip Code.
5. Enter their date of birth (month/day/year).
6. Enter their U.S. social security number.
7. Check this box (that they are a foreign national) if they are not a citizen of the U.S. or a permanent resident (green card holder).
7a. Enter the date from their Form DS-2019 (U.S. Department of State).
7b. Enter the departure number from their Form I-94 (Departure Record).
8. Employee should sign.
9. Enter the date that they completed this form.
10. To be completed and signed if Section 1 is prepared by a person other than the emplooyee.
Employer Review and Verification (To be completed and signed by employer or authorized representative)
The following is an example of how to fill out the I-9 form when choosing from List A, #4 (unexpired foreign passport). Please note that for List A, you need to make only one choice of documentation. If you choose a document from List B, you must also examine a document from List C.
11. Document Title – Enter “PASSPORT”.
12. Issuing Authority – Enter country that issued the passport.
13. Document Number – Enter the passport number.
14. Expiration date – Enter date the passport expires.
15. Document # – Enter the departure number from the Form I-94 (Departure Record).
16. Expiration date – Enter the end date from line 3 of Form DS-2019 (U.S. Department of State). If the individual is employed past this date, the I-9 will need to be reverified by completing Section 3 of the I-9. Also, please verify that the Host Company is the sponsor on line 2 of Form DS-2019.
17. Enter the date that the employee began employment in the department.
18. Employer or authorized representative should sign.
19. Print name of employer or authorized representative.
20. Enter title of employer or authorized representative.
21. Enter departmental name, address (mailbox).
22. Enter the date. Submit the Form I-9 and the Form 1007 to the Payroll Office Box 355655.
W-4 “Withholding Wages” Form
Employees receiving wages subject to graduated withholding will be required to fill out a W-4 Form. For J-1 Summer Work Travel participants, the process is different.
Please note: This is based on information published by the IRS at time of print. Please consult your tax advisor for more specific information. (Source Internal Revenue Service Website. Publication 519 March 14, 2011).
Withholding on Wages
Nonresident aliens should fill out Form W-4 using the following instructions instead of the instructions on the Form W-4. This is because of the restrictions on a nonresident alien’s filing status, the limited number of personal exemptions a nonresident alien is allowed, and because a nonresident alien cannot claim the standard deduction.
- Check only “Single” marital status on line 3 (regardless of the participant actual marital status).
- Claim only one allowance on line 5, unless the participant is a resident of Canada, Mexico, or the Republic of Korea (South Korea), or a U.S. national.
- Write “Nonresident Alien” or “NRA” on the dotted line on line 6. The participant may request optional additional withholding on line 6.
- Do not claim “Exempt” withholding status on line 7.
Students and Exchange Visitors
Generally, services performed by a nonresident alien temporarily in the United States as a nonimmigrant under subparagraph (F), (J), (M), or (Q) of section 101(a)(15) of the Immigration and Nationality Act are not covered under the Social Security program if the services are performed to carry out the purpose for which they were admitted to the United States. This means that there will be no withholding of Social Security or Medicare taxes from the pay they receive for these services. These types of services are very limited, and generally include only on-campus work, practical training, and economic hardship employment. Social Security and Medicare taxes will be withheld from their pay for these services if they are considered a resident alien as discussed in chapter 1, even though their nonimmigrant classification (“F,” “J,” “M,” or “Q”) remains the same. Services performed by a spouse or minor child of nonimmigrant aliens with the classification of “F-2,” “J-2,” “M-2,” and “Q-3” are covered under Social Security.
Nonresident aliens are temporarily admitted to the United States as nonimmigrant exchange visitors under section 101(a)(15)(J) of the Immigration and Nationality Act through the sponsorship of approved organizations and institutions that are responsible for establishing a program for the exchange visitor and for any later modification of that program. Generally, an exchange visitor who has the permission of the sponsor can work for the same reasons as the participants discussed above. In these cases, permission is granted by a letter from the exchange visitor’s sponsor or by endorsement from the program sponsor on Form DS-2019, certificate of eligibility. Social Security and Medicare taxes are not withheld on pay for services of an exchange visitor who has been given permission to work and who possesses or obtains a letter of authorization from the sponsor unless the exchange visitor is considered a resident alien. In all other cases, services performed by an exchange visitor are not considered as performed to carry out the purpose for which the visitor was admitted to the United States. Social Security and Medicare taxes are withheld from pay for the services unless the pay is exempt under the Internal Revenue Code. Spouses or children of J-1 visa holders may be permitted to work in the United States with the prior approval of the USCIS and issuance of Form I-765.
Housing and Transportation
Host Companies are asked to provide information regarding nearby housing or housing with shuttle service at a reasonable cost. AAG suggests that housing and transportation not exceed more than one-third of the participant’s monthly take-home earnings. AAG field staff will work with your company to help identify appropriate venues. The participants are responsible for their own housing costs, including deposits. In some cases, companies do provide free or reduced housing costs to their participants. These incentives make your positions very attractive to prospective applicants.
Employers are not required to provide housing for H-2B participants, but low-cost company housing makes a position more attractive to applicants considering the Seasonal Work and Cultural Exchange Programs. Employers may be asked to assist with the identification of possible permanent or temporary housing locations in conjunction with AAG to secure the best possible housing options from which the participants may choose.
Legal contracts for housing can be very hard to understand for many of our international participants. Please make sure when you ask your participants to review and agree to the terms outlined in these types of documents that you make sure to review these with them to ensure all parties are well versed in these legal agreements. AAG should also be informed before the program begins when heavy financial penalties exist with housing arrangements so we can help reinforce and remind them of their commitment.
Your business should also be readily accessible by public transportation, and if not, to shuttle transportation for travel between housing to your business. Please keep in mind the participants’ schedules when investigating transportation options.