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Foreign students supplement Jersey Shore workforce this summer

Several hundred students from across the globe will intersect at the Jersey Shore this summer and work the boards and beach. Some foreigners have already made their way over for preseason prep work.

Boardwalk job fair
Job fair for domestic workers at Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach in Seaside Heights (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)

Every year, J-1 visas allow foreign university students to visit the U.S. for both work and play. According to the U.S. Department of State, more than 4,700 of these visa-holders visit New Jersey for purposes of “summer work travel.”

Nicholas Walters, international recruiter for Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach in Seaside Heights, has hired 140 overseas students for the 2017 summer season. That number could shrink or grow based on visa denials or students simply changing their minds.

“I probably have around 12 countries represented this year,” Walters said.

Most years, he hops from country to country, interviewing foreign applicants who are interested in making Seaside Heights their home for a few months. This year, his only visit was to Ukraine, and interviews with students in other countries occurred via Skype.

“Everything’s explained to them — their pay rate, the hours that they could expect to get,” Walters said.

English proficiency is a must, he noted. It’s also a requirement for obtaining the special visa.

Walters has had to turn down students who wouldn’t be able to handle a routine conversation in the U.S.

“The stronger the English, those kids will most likely be in food service because food service gets crazy with all the slang,” he said.

Students from Ukraine and Bulgaria will make up the bulk of of foreign workers arriving in Seaside Heights towards the beginning of the summer season. A few weeks later, Lithuania and Spain will be well represented.

Each country has a different window of dates during which students can participate in the exchange program.

According to an April 11 report from the Press of Atlantic City, 500 foreign students are set to work on Morey’s Piers in the Wildwoods this summer. More than 20 students were already working.

Walters said Casino Pier owns housing that traveling students can utilize for a fee. If occupancy reaches its limit, he contacts landlords around town to work out rental agreements.

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