“My husband and I have invited a 20-year-old son of some friends in West Cork to spend the summer with us this year. He will only be here for his school holiday, so I don't believe a visa past the 90 days will be needed.
“However, his mother does want him to work while he is with us. I should be able to find him either a job, or at least interviews for him to follow up on. However, my question is this -- will he need a special visa or permission from Homeland Security/Social Security in order to work. Because it is only unskilled, temporary work within the travel visa dates, do we even need to worry?
We don't want any hassles for the young man or his potential employer, and we want to do things legally. What do you suggest we do to get things in order -- if anything?”
Strictly speaking, the 90-day visa waiver that Irish citizens can avail of does not permit employment from a U.S. source. The waiver allows for stays of up to 90 days in the U.S., but working for an American employer during that time is not permitted, even if the job on offer is of an unskilled/temporary nature.
What are the options? Your houseguest would perhaps be eligible for a J-1 visa, a popular summer program that many Irish full-time Irish university students make use of which permits them to travel here for several months and legally work during that time for an employer of their choice. J-1 students are eligible to apply for Social Security numbers, and they are expected to comply with U.S. tax laws, which really would be minimal in their situations.
The fees and incidentals required for J-1 processing amount to a few hundred dollars. An excellent information site operated by the Irish student group USIT is, which provides a comprehensive overview of the J program and its requirements and benefits. Perhaps it would be a good option for your future visitor to pursue, as the application period for the summer of 2008 is now open.
Other than that, any other type of work visa would be just about impossible to obtain at this stage, especially as a U.S. employer would have to act as a sponsor for your friend, and the application process would be arduous.
Many U.S. employers do require Social Security numbers and legal status for potential employees. And then, of course, there are those who do not.
The following is not in any way meant to encourage illegal activity, but it’s a fact of life that folks travel here on visa waivers, temporary visas, or they cross the border, enter the workforce and are never detected. It might be an unpleasant fact, but there’s no denying that it is true. It’s just something that you might wish to bear in mind as you consider the summer options for your friend.