WFRV/DOOR COUNTY, WISCONSIN – The busiest season in Door County is approaching.
“Our seasonal businesses are usually trying to wrap up their staffing needs in April and May,” Jon Jarosh, Director of Communications and PR for Destination Door County, told Local 5 on Wednesday.
The J1 Visa programme assists companies all over the peninsula in meeting these demands.
“J1 visas are usually for college-aged students to come over here, and it’s just a cultural exchange programme,” Jarosh said. It allows those students to learn about and experience American culture while working.”
In a typical summer, the Landmark Resort in Egg Harbor will employ around 50 J1 students.
“We try to recruit as many local kids as we can,” Rick Rogers, The Landmark Resort’s Operations Manager, said, “but there aren’t enough to fill the vacancies, so they’re essential to helping us.” They work in a bakery, a laundry, and a housekeeping department.”
So far, a dozen J1 students have arrived at The Landmark to fill those positions for the 2021 season.
“We expect more,” Rogers said, “but we don’t know when we’ll get them.”
According to Rogers, students first apply for a position and then apply for a visa with the American Embassy in their home country.
If the coronavirus pandemic persists, which embassies are open will determine who can travel.
Students from the Dominican Republic and Thailand have obtained J1 visas and arrive at The Landmark so far.
Rogers said he received news on Wednesday morning that the Romanian Embassy would be opening soon.
He explained, “We’re waiting on Bulgaria, and we were going to bring some students in from Turkey, but their embassies aren’t going to open up.”
The resort’s fortunes are improving: due to the pandemic last year, only 19 students could attend.
“Last year, we had lower occupancy because people weren’t travelling,” Rogers said.
They’re hoping to make a comeback this year.
Rogers said, “It’ll be all hands on deck.” “We’ll shuffle workers between departments, and we’ll sell overtime to the employees who need it to make up the hours.”
As they wait for the majority of the J1 students to arrive in the United States, they’ll figure out a way to make things work.
“We weren’t sure if we’d get any of these students not long ago, so the fact that we’ve already been able to host a few is encouraging,” Jarosh said.