ORLANDO, Fla. - Some international workers who contract at Walt Disney World say they are struggling to find a way back home.
"In 10 days, you feel like your life is going like this," said 22-year-old
Andrea Venditti, 22, said he will be forced to move out of Disney housing in two days. He works as a server in Epcot’s Italy pavilion through the International Cultural Representative Program. He said he is stressed after his world has been turned upside-down.
"I just need to go home and that’s it!"
But finding an affordable flight back to Italy hasn’t been easy.
"We didn’t have time to book good flight."
He said he and 140 others from Italy signed up with hospitality management company Delaware North, which contracts employees to work at restaurants in Disney. Then pandemic broke out.
"A big misunderstanding between Disney and Delaware."
He blames Delaware North for not giving them enough time to plan. A spokesperson from Delaware North released this statement:
“Patina Restaurant Group has greatly appreciated the passion and work at our restaurants of our Q1 employees from Italy. With the pending closing of their housing and the temporary closure of our restaurants in response to COVID-19, we have advanced them their regular pay for the week of April 13 and an additional two weeks of pay to be used toward airfare to fly home to Italy. We strongly believe this is the right thing to do and wish them a safe return.”
A Disney spokesperson said they sent a letter to international workers two weeks ago, telling them to speak to their employers. Housing fees were waived last week, but with no work, their visas will soon be expiring.
"It’s going to completely cancel out their visa and they’re going to have 30 days."
Immigration Attorney Nicole Rofe Payne said Venditti must either find a new job in 30 days or fly back home.
"Any overstay in a visa is going to jeopardize their future in ever coming back here again."
"We’ve been talking to the embassy to be honest looks like things are moving now," Venditti said.
He said his insurance expires in two days and hopes to leave with the others this weekend.
"If they provide us the flight. I’m going to try to stay two days to stay in cheaper hotel."
Venditti said he is not looking for donations. He just wants to get home.