Participants

Summer Work Travel Students must be:

  • Sufficiently proficient in English to successfully interact in an English speaking environment;
  • Post-secondary school students enrolled in and actively pursuing a degree or other full-time course of study at an accredited classroom based, post-secondary educational institution outside the United States;
  • Have successfully completed at least one semester or equivalent of post-secondary academic study; and
  • Pre-placed in a job prior to entry unless from a visa waiver country.

Benefits

The Summer Work Travel program provides foreign students with an opportunity to live and work in the United States during their summer vacation from college or university to experience and to be exposed to the people and way of life in the United States.

More information

Deputy Assistant Secretary Robin Lerner’s Welcome Letter to Summer Work Travel Participants

Readmittance, Program Length, and Returning Home

  • Readmittance: Participants can be admitted to the program more than once;
  • Program Length: The maximum length of the program is four months; and
  • Returning Home: Students must return to their home country prior to the start date of their university or college.

Program Exclusions

Sponsors must not place participants:

  • In positions that could bring notoriety or disrepute to the Exchange Visitor Program;
  • In sales positions that require participants to purchase inventory that they must sell in order to support themselves;
  • In domestic help positions in private homes (e.g., child care, elder care, gardener, chauffeur);
  • As pedicab or rolling chair drivers or operators;
  • As operators or drivers of vehicles or vessels for which drivers' licenses are required regardless of whether they carry passengers or not;
  • In positions related to clinical care that involves patient contact;
  • In any position in the adult entertainment industry (including, but not limited to jobs with escort services, adult book/video stores, and strip clubs);
  • In positions requiring work hours that fall predominantly between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am;
  • In positions declared hazardous to youth by the Secretary of Labor at Subpart E of 29 CFR part 570;
  • In positions that require sustained physical contact with other people and/or adherence to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Universal Blood and Body Fluid Precautions guidelines (e.g., body piercing, tattooing, massage, manicure);
  • In positions that are substantially commission-based and thus do not guarantee that participants will be paid minimum wage in accordance with federal and state standards;
  • In positions involved in gaming and gambling that include direct participation in wagering and/or betting;
  • In positions in chemical pest control, warehousing, catalogue/online order distribution centers;
  • In positions with traveling fairs or itinerant concessionaires;
  • In jobs that do not allow participants to work alongside U.S. citizens and interact regularly with U.S. citizens and to experience U.S. culture during the workday portion of their Summer Work Travel programs;
  • With employers that fill non-seasonal or non-temporary job openings with exchange visitors with staggered vacation schedules;
  • In positions that require licensing;
  • In positions for which there is another specific J visa category (e.g., Camp Counselor, Trainee, Intern);
  • In positions with staffing agencies, unless the placements meet the following three criteria:
    • Participants must be employees of and paid by the staffing agencies
    • Staffing agencies must provide full-time, primary, on-site supervision of the participants
    • Staffing agencies must effectively control the work sites, e.g., have hands-on management responsibility for the participants
  • After November 1, 2012, in positions in the North American Industry Classification System's (NAICS) Goods-Producing Industries occupational categories industry sectors 11, 21, 23, 31-33 numbers (set forth at http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag_index_naics.htm).

Sponsors must also:

  • Use extra caution when placing students in positions at employers in lines of business that are frequently associated with trafficking persons (e.g., modeling agencies, housekeeping, janitorial services);
  • Consider the availability of suitable, affordable housing (e.g., that meets local codes and ordinances) and reliable, affordable, and convenient transportation to and from work when making job placements;
  • Actively and immediately assist participants with arranging appropriate housing and transportation, if employers do not provide or arrange housing and/or transportation, or if participants decline employer-provided housing or transportation;
  • Confirm at the beginning of each placement season:
    • The number of job placements available with host employers
    • That host employers will not displace domestic U.S. workers at worksites where they will place program participants
    • That host employers have not experienced layoffs in the past 120 days and do not have workers on lockout or on strike

Sponsors may place participants only in jobs that:

  • Are seasonal or temporary;
  • Provide opportunities for regular communication and interaction with U.S. citizens and allow participants to experience U.S. culture.

Program Sponsors

Sponsors are required to:

  • Provide pre-arranged and fully-vetted employment to all participants who are not from a visa waiver country. Provide all participants, prior to entry:
    • A copy of the Department of State Summer Work Travel Program Brochure;
    • The Department of State’s toll-free emergency hotline telephone number;
    • The sponsor’s 24/7 immediate contact telephone number;
    • Information advising participants of their obligation to notify their sponsor when they arrive in the United States and to provide information of any change in jobs or residence; and
    • Information concerning any contractual obligations related to participants’ acceptance of paid employment in the United States, if pre-arranged.
  • Sponsors of participants who are nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries must:
    • Ensure that participants entering the United States without prearranged employment have sufficient financial resources to support themselves during their search for employment;
    • Provide such participants with information on how to seek employment and secure lodging in the United States before they depart their home countries; and
    • Provide participants with a job directory that includes at least as many job listings as the number of participants in their program who are entering the United States without prearranged employment.
  • Sponsors must undertake reasonable efforts to secure suitable employment for participants unable to find jobs on their own after one week;
  • Sponsors must inform program participants of Federal Minimum Wage requirements and ensure that, at a minimum, participants are compensated at the prevailing local wage, which must meet the higher of either the applicable state or the Federal minimum wage requirement, including payment for overtime in accordance with state-specific employment; and
  • Sponsors must maintain, at a minimum, a monthly schedule of personal contact with the program participants (in-person, by telephone or via-electronic mail), document such contact, and ensure that issues affecting the health, safety and welfare of participants are addressed immediately.

More information

Program Exclusions

Sponsors must not place participants:

  • In positions that could bring notoriety or disrepute to the Exchange Visitor Program;
  • In sales positions that require participants to purchase inventory that they must sell in order to support themselves;
  • In domestic help positions in private homes (e.g., child care, elder care, gardener, chauffeur);
  • As pedicab or rolling chair drivers or operators;
  • As operators or drivers of vehicles or vessels for which drivers' licenses are required regardless of whether they carry passengers or not;
  • In positions related to clinical care that involves patient contact;
  • In any position in the adult entertainment industry (including, but not limited to jobs with escort services, adult book/video stores, and strip clubs);
  • In positions requiring work hours that fall predominantly between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am;
  • In positions declared hazardous to youth by the Secretary of Labor at Subpart E of 29 CFR part 570;
  • In positions that require sustained physical contact with other people and/or adherence to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Universal Blood and Body Fluid Precautions guidelines (e.g., body piercing, tattooing, massage, manicure);
  • In positions that are substantially commission-based and thus do not guarantee that participants will be paid minimum wage in accordance with federal and state standards;
  • In positions involved in gaming and gambling that include direct participation in wagering and/or betting;
  • In positions in chemical pest control, warehousing, catalogue/online order distribution centers;
  • In positions with traveling fairs or itinerant concessionaires;
  • In jobs that do not allow participants to work alongside U.S. citizens and interact regularly with U.S. citizens and to experience U.S. culture during the workday portion of their Summer Work Travel programs;
  • With employers that fill non-seasonal or non-temporary job openings with exchange visitors with staggered vacation schedules;
  • In positions that require licensing;
  • In positions for which there is another specific J visa category (e.g., Camp Counselor, Trainee, Intern);
  • In positions with staffing agencies, unless the placements meet the following three criteria:
    • Participants must be employees of and paid by the staffing agencies
    • Staffing agencies must provide full-time, primary, on-site supervision of the participants
    • Staffing agencies must effectively control the work sites, e.g., have hands-on management responsibility for the participants
  • After November 1, 2012, in positions in the North American Industry Classification System's (NAICS) Goods-Producing Industries occupational categories industry sectors 11, 21, 23, 31-33 numbers (set forth at http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag_index_naics.htm).

Sponsors must also:

  • Use extra caution when placing students in positions at employers in lines of business that are frequently associated with trafficking persons (e.g., modeling agencies, housekeeping, janitorial services);
  • Consider the availability of suitable, affordable housing (e.g., that meets local codes and ordinances) and reliable, affordable, and convenient transportation to and from work when making job placements;
  • Actively and immediately assist participants with arranging appropriate housing and transportation, if employers do not provide or arrange housing and/or transportation, or if participants decline employer-provided housing or transportation;
  • Confirm at the beginning of each placement season:
    • The number of job placements available with host employers
    • That host employers will not displace domestic U.S. workers at worksites where they will place program participants
    • That host employers have not experienced layoffs in the past 120 days and do not have workers on lockout or on strike

Sponsors may place participants only in jobs that:

  • Are seasonal or temporary;
  • Provide opportunities for regular communication and interaction with U.S. citizens and allow participants to experience U.S. culture.

Employers

Host employers are required to:

  • Provide participants the number of hours of paid employment per week as identified on the job offer and agreed to when the sponsor vetted the jobs;
  • Pay those participants eligible for overtime worked in accordance with applicable state or federal law;
  • Notify sponsors promptly when participants arrive at the work site and begins their programs; when there are any changes or deviations in the job placements during the participants’ programs; when participants are not meeting the requirements of job placements; or when participants leave their position ahead of their planned departure; and
  • Contact sponsors immediately in the event of any emergency involving participants or any situation that impacts the health, safety or welfare of participants.