Friday, May 13, 2011

U.S. State Dept Issues Interim Final Rule on J-1 Visas

Late last month, the U.S. Department of State released an interim final rule with request for comments on the J-1 visa Summer Work Travel (SWT) program. The rule will go into effect July 15, 2011, and the Dept. of State will accept comments until June 27.

This rule stems from reports of exploitation of SWT students (not in the attractions industry). Last fall the Dept. of State announced a pilot program that would make changes to the SWT program for students from six countries (Belarus, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine). The pilot program served as a basis for this interim final rule.

The rule modifies the Summer Work Travel regulations by establishing different employment placement requirements based on the students’ countries of citizenship and by requiring sponsors to fully vet the job placements of all program participants. It also clarifies that only vetted U.S. host employers and vetted third party overseas agents or partners (i.e., foreign entities) with whom sponsors have contractual agreements may assist sponsors in the administration of the core functions of their exchange programs.

IAAPA knows its members provide a good experience to SWT students. Last month IAAPA met with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange Stanley Colvin to discuss the attractions industry’s use of the SWT program and the new rule. During the meeting Deputy Assistant Secretary Colvin expressed interest in visiting amusement parks to see the positive stories our industry has to tell. If your facility is interested in hosting State Department officials this summer, please contact us.

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