Last fall, the U.S. Department of State announced a pilot program which will make changes to the J-1 visa Summer Work Travel (SWT) program. The pilot program is effective now and only applies to SWT participants in six countries (Belarus, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine). It is rumored that this pilot program will be expanded to the entire SWT program through a rulemaking early this year.
Some of the changes included in the pilot program are:
- Students are required to have accepted a job offer prior to interviewing for a visa.
- Certain “inappropriate” job placements are prohibited.
- A public database will be created that identifies all local agents that work with sponsor companies, including evaluations or rating of the local agents.
- Students will be required to complete a survey at the end of their stay.
- All participants (students, sponsors, agents, etc.) will need to abide by a new Code of Conduct.
IAAPA has been told there will be a regulatory action on the SWT program in the first few months of 2011. We have also been told the regulatory action will be the release of an interim final rule with an open comment period where interested parties can submit their comments to the Department of State. We do not know if the interim final rule will be effective in time for the 2011 hiring season.
IAAPA is monitoring the issue, and will alert members when the regulatory action occurs and how IAAPA members can submit comments on the proposed rules.