May 16th, 2012 by Eric J. Ramos
The US Department of State (DoS) has introduced new regulations and reforms to the J-1 Summer Work and Travel Program. This program brings more than 100,000 students from foreign colleges to the US, each year. The new regulations are because of many allegations regarding the misuse of this student work visa program off late. During 2010, the State Department received reports regarding the misuse of the student work visa program.
Many foreign students who came to the US through the J-1 visa category were found employed in strip clubs and many were made to work under compulsion. There were additional reports of many other foreign students on J-1 visa classification found to be living and working in highly lamentable conditions.
Though the intention of this student-exchange program is to understand American culture, it has led to nothing than swaying away from the main purpose for which it was created. So the State Department decided to take a tougher stand that will put an end to such misuse of the program. The reform is to ensure the foreign students who enter the US be treated fairly. It also will see to the safety, security and welfare of the foreign students in the US. It will also focus on helping foreign students interact with the Americans and get an exposure to the American culture.
This program is very popular as it attracts a large number of foreign students to enter the US and also work there for a four-month period. It was started to provide opportunities to the post-secondary international students to come to the US and earn and also get a feel of the American culture, during their summer holidays. There are simple eligibility requirements that one needs to fulfill to participate in this program. A student who is pursuing full-time studies or a degree at any of the accredited educational institutes or a bona-fide student of post-secondary education will qualify.
Though some new rules will be effective immediately, others will take effect in November. A part of the rule that would restrict participants from working in manufacturing and construction sectors will be in effect from November. The rules also prohibit the participants from working in businesses in which the main working hours are between 10 pm. and 6 am. Per the new rules, 49 companies have been designated as official “sponsors,” who would assist students in getting visas, find jobs, housing and also making sure the participants are treated fairly. The State Department also wants the employers to make sure the positions offered are genuinely seasonal and temporary and it will not displace US workers.