J-1 Visa Program Relatively Intact But Puts Restrictions on Hours

summer work travel program for foreign students that has accommodated the Alaska
commercial fishing industry with seasonal labor will remain relatively intact through
November, allowing for such employment at Alaska fish processing plants.
changes put in the J-1 program, however, include some specific restrictions on work
hours, stating that these students cannot be put into positions where their work
hours will be predominantly from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m.
91-page interim final rule, which can be found online at http://j1visa.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/2012-swt-ifr.pdf,
also states that these jobs must allow participants to interact regularly with American
citizens and experience American culture during the work portion of their program.
Sponsors are also required to take more active roles in ensuring that the J-1 participants
have access to suitable, affordable and safe housing and reliable and affordable
transportation between their residences and worksites.
program was first authorized by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act
of 1961 and enacted by the 87th Congress on Sept. 21, 1961. Its stated purposed
is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and
the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange, and
to strengthen the ties between nations. In the half-century since the act’s passage,
millions of program participants and Americans with whom they have interacted have
benefitted, the State Department noted.
changes to the J-1 program were made last year, including those requiring sponsors
to vet and confirm the validity of all host employers, to fully vet all job offers,
and to contact active program participants on a monthly basis to monitor both their
welfare and their geographical physical location.
the years seafood processors have come to rely on the J-1 program to fill manpower
needs for unskilled jobs not favored by domestic workers,” said Sen. Mark Begich,
D-Alaska, in correspondence with the Obama administration. “While the industry recruits
locally and around the nation, J-1 students fill as many as half the jobs in some
seafood processing plants, especially those in remove areas where there is a limited
local workforce.”