Monday, January 31, 2011

New Pilot Program for J-1 Visa Summer Workers

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.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

IAAPA Submits Comments on ADA Rulemaking

Yesterday the comment period closed for several Advanced Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on regulations related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). IAAPA submitted a comment letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, explaining the potential effects these proposed rules could have on the attractions industry.

The proposed regulations do not replace the final rules that go into effect March 15. Those final rules address standards of accessible design and barrier removal activities. If implemented, these proposed rules will address websites, self-service equipment such as vending machines or ticket kiosks, and movie captioning.

The attractions industry is committed to providing accessible entertainment for all guests. IAAPA agrees with the intent of the proposed rules, but did ask that flexibility be granted for some of our members' unique attractions. We also requested DOJ grant the industry adequate time between when the final rules are published and their effective dates.

Next Steps

What should happen next is DOJ will review all of the comments it received and move forward with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which will be open for comments. After considering those comments, DOJ will publish a final rule. I have not heard a timeframe on these regulations, but it probably won't be until later this year, or even in 2012.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Safety Update: Web Conferences on CPSIA Database and OSHA Regulatory Agenda

On Thursday, January 20, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will hold a webcast demonstrating the new Publicly Available Consumer Product Safety Information Database. IAAPA members will remember the database is part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvements Act and allows consumers to make "reports of harm" about consumer products.

During the webinar, CPSC Commissioner Bob Adler and database Project Manager Ming Zhu will demonstrate key functions of the database, including the new Business Portal, where manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers can register to receive notification if a report is made about a product. The Business Portal is designed to facilitate more efficient electronic notice, review, and comment on reports of harm before they are published in the database. Businesses will be able to register an account on the Business Portal during this demonstration.

Webinar participants will also learn how a consumer will use the online reporting form and how to search the database for information about consumer products.

Participation is free, but advanced registration is required.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor held a series of webchats about its current regulatory agenda. The archived chats are available on the Department of Labor’s website. IAAPA members should pay close attention to the chats concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Wage and Hour Division .