J-1

Exchange Visitors

342,639 visas issued in 2018
The J-1 nonimmigrant visa is billed as an educational and cultural exchange visitor program, but is routinely used as a temporary work visa.
J-1 AT A GLANCE
Year Created
1961
Promote international understanding
Department of State (DOS) 
Stated Purpose
Managing Agency
The J-1 umbrella includes 14 distinct categories.
Au Pairs
20,678*
Camp
Counselors
24,919
College & University Students
46,722
Government Visitors
4,997
High School Students
23,527
International Visitors
6,360
Interns
26,112
Physicians
2,738
Professors & Research
Scholars
35,627
Short Term Scholars
18,885
Specialists
1,350
Summer
Work Travel
104,512
Trainees
Teachers
3,252
10,857
*Numbers represent visas issued in 2018 (Source: https://j1visa.state.gov/basics/facts-and-figures/)
J-1 IN CHARTS

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LABOR ABUSE
Despite being used as a work visa, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) 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. 
Geographic isolation, employment in private homes or in low-wage industries, and lax worker protections and oversight all contribute to J-1 worker vulnerability to exploitation. At least six of the 14 J-1 categories present situations that merit close scrutiny: summer work travel, camp counselors, trainees, and interns, au pairs, and teachers. U.S. Department of State (DOS) data shows that these six categories make up just over half of all total J-1 visas issued.
DOCUMENTED CASES OF ABUSE

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Read more case stories in our publication: 
Human Trafficking on Temporary Foreign Work Visas in the U.S.A.
REASONS WHY AN EMPLOYER MAY CHOOSE TO HIRE J-1 EXCHANGE VISITORS
No pre-approval needed from USCIS or USDOL
No labor market certification test required
Flexibility to hire short-term employees
No limit on the number of visas that can be issued
J-1 program regulations do not require payment of recruitment fees
No federal employment taxes
No requirement to provide housing (except au pairs)
History of lax government oversight of employment conditions
J-1 program regulations do not require reimbursement of travel costs
RECOMMENDATIONS
The J-1 exchange visitor program was not designed to import foreign labor and should be redesigned to accommodate this reality. 
Transparency:
Make information about the J-1 program publicly available and easily accessible to stakeholders and the public.
 
Fair Recruitment:
Regulate the recruitment of J-1 workers to protect against fraud, discrimination, and human trafficking and eliminate the practice of charging J-1 participants for placement.
 
Effective Oversight:
Guarantee that J-1 workers have robust labor and employment protections, including access to justice across borders, and that the program does not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers.
Other Visa Programs:

H-2A    |    H-2B    |    H-1B    |    J-1    |    L-1    |    A-3/G-5    |    F-1    |    B-1

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