Image Our Story - International Residence Hall J1 Visa Work Travel

Our Story – From Concept to Creation

From Wisconsin Tourist Town to the nation's top host for J1 Visa Summer Work Travel Cultural Exchange participants.

Lake Delton and Wisconsin Dells form a small yet significant resort destination, spanning just 20 square miles with 5,500 permanent residents. Despite its modest size, the area is a major tourist hotspot, hosting over 4 million visitors each year. It stands out as the nation’s top host for J1 Visa Summer Work Travel Cultural Exchange participants.

The area’s ability to accommodate over 5,000 international students and millions of seasonal visitors is attributed to its extensive employee housing. Managed by International Residence Hall (IRH), the region boasts 10 dormitory-style facilities. This housing initiative was crucial in supporting the local tourism and hospitality industry, providing a home for international residents during their stay.

The development of these housing facilities was a response to a critical need identified by Lake Delton and Wisconsin Dells’ municipal leadership and business community. They recognized the importance of J1/BridgeUSA students in maintaining business operations during peak tourist seasons and enriching the community’s culture.

With Tom Holtz’s leadership, the project focused on creating safe, affordable, and comfortable housing. The Village of Lake Delton further propelled this initiative by introducing a Hospitality Industry Incentive Program, offering financial support to local businesses employing seasonal workers.

Timeline

2013

IRH Wisconsin Dells

IRH Wisconsin Dells (formerly called Hiawatha Residence Hall) opened in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, housing temporary J1 students and seasonal employees.
2015

IRH Wisconsin Dells

IRH Wisconsin Dells added 2 residential halls, providing homes for over 600 additional residents.
2017

IRH Wisconsin Dells

IRH Wisconsin Dells added 2 more resident halls to the community, providing a total of 1,400 beds for 1,400 seasonal employees.
2021

IRH Pigeon Forge

IRH opened its first out-of-state dormitory-style housing development for seasonal workers in Pigeon Forge, TN at Dollywood.

2023

IRH Branson West

IRH opened dormitory-style housing in Branson, MO that created homes for over 250 seasonal workers.
2023

IRH Pigeon Forge

IRH opened an additional residence hall to the IRH campus at Dollywood, providing an additional 306 beds for residents.
2023

IRH Big Cedar Lodge

This new IRH campus in Branson, MO will be home to 450 residents once construction wraps up in the Fall of 2024.
2024

IRH Myrtle Beach

IRH is developing 2 residence halls in Myrtle Beach, SC, that will provide oceanside housing to over 400 J1 students and seasonal employees.
2024

IRH Portage

Specifically designed with the manufacturing community of Portage, WI in mind, this residence hall will prospectively open in 2024.
2013
2013

IRH Wisconsin Dells

IRH Wisconsin Dells (formerly called Hiawatha Residence Hall) opens in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Housing J-1 and other seasonal workforce for employers large and small in the community

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2015
2015

IRH Wisconsin Dells

IRH Wisconsin Dells adds another 2 residence halls to the campus, totalling 600 beds

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2017
2017

IRH Wisconsin Dells

IRH Wisconsin Dells adds an additional 2 buildings, providing the community a total of 1400 beds.

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2021
2021

IRH Pigeon Forge

IRH opens it's FIRST out-of-state dormitory-style workforce housing in Pigeon Forge, TN at Dollywood. The unique U-shaped building with a beautiful courtyard offers Dollywood and the Pigeon Forge Community 756 beds for J-1, H2B and Interns

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2023
2023

IRH Branson West

IRH opens dormitory-style workforce housing in Missouri at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. This building will house up to 250 guests.

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2024
2024

IRH Pigeon Forge

Our campus in Pigeon Forge grows! In 2024, IRH will open an additional residence hall to the campus at Dollywood, which will offer an additional 306 residents a new home away from home.

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2024
2024

IRH Big Cedar Lodge

Our first residence hall at Big Cedar Lodge will open in the fall of 2024.

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2025
2025

IRH Myrtle Beach

IRH will open up 2 residence halls in Myrtle Beach, SC. Residents are going to love the short distance to the beautiful beachfront.

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2025
2025

IRH Portage

IRH will open it's first resident hall intended specifically for the manufacturing community in Portage, WI. IRH Portage will vary slightly, with 2 beds per room for additional privacy.

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“The people here are so kind they make me feel like I’m home. i work all day and its nice to come to friendly face and fun events that go on.”

Carlos Robledo

Columbia

“IRH is very professional yet so much like a family, you treat us so nicely and always greet me with a good morning and a smile. The cleanliness is aways good so fresh and nice. it’s a friendly and welcoming environment. We are treated so well at IRH with such trustworthy staff.”

Ann Marie Charlton

Jamaica

“IRH Pigeon Forge has given me many chances to meet new people and cultural exchange by learning a 3rd language, trying food from different countries, and promoting my country (Jamaica). I also had a great opportunity like getting to play soccer for Tornado FC.  My most special moment was when I joined the International Angels and I truly have enjoyed being apart of and giving back to the local communities. IRH is my Home Away From Home.”

Ricardo Smith

Jamaica

“I am happy to be staying at IRH. It’s a comfortable place to live and the people at the front desk are friendly. I enjoy having a kitchen that we can use 24 hours a day.”

Licelot Carrasco Guerrero

Dominican Republic

“IRH is a great experience, the building is so clean and brand new. The best part is the teamwork. The people, they are wonderful and so friendly. They are great, I always get a greeting when I see the staff at the front desk.”

Warren Pujols

Dominican Republic

“I have met a lot of new people here. I love being able to cook and hangout with my new friends in big spaces like the common areas and outside in the courtyard. Also IRH is right near my workplace so I don’t have far transportation. I like being here a lot.”

Jirameth Kittavornsakul

Thailand