The J-1 nonimmigrant visa is billed as an educational and cultural exchange visitor program, but is routinely used as a temporary work visa.
AT A GLANCE
Promote international understanding
Department of State (DOS)
The J-1 umbrella includes 14 distinct categories.
College & University Students
Professors & Research Scholars
High School Students
Short Term Scholars
Summer Work Travel
2019 TOP 10 DESTINATION SITES FOR J-1 VISA HOLDERS
TOP SENDING COUNTRIES: J-1 VISAS ISSUED
ISSUED BY SUBCATEGORY
COMPARISON OF J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM
Despite being used as a work visa, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) plays no role in regulating the J-1 program other than to enforce the standard federal wage and hour laws that apply to the general workforce.
At least six of the 14 J-1 categories present situations where J-1 workers are vulnerable: summer work travel, camp counselors, trainees, and interns, au pairs, and teachers
DOS data shows that these six categories make up just over half of all total J-1 visas issued.
Geographic isolation, employment in private homes or in low-wage, unskilled industries, and lax worker protections and oversight all contribute to J-1 worker vulnerability to exploitation.
DOCUMENTED CASES OF ABUSE
[STILL MISSING: Reasons why an employer may choose to hire J-1 workers]
The J-1 exchange visitor program was not designed to import foreign labor and should be redesigned to accommodate this reality.
Open jobs to U.S. workers:
The J-1 exchange visitor program regulations do not have a system in place to test the labor market for jobs where J-1 workers are employed. Currently, there is no requirement to advertise open jobs or recruit U.S. workers.
End employer-based visas:
As with most other nonimmigrant visas that authorize work in the U.S., J-1 exchange visitors are vulnerable to the extent that their lawful immigration status is tied to a job placement. An individual who has paid money to come to the United States to work has a strong incentive to stick with an exploitative situation.
[STILL MISSING: Additional Resources]
Other Visa Programs: