By Nathan Arnold, Director of Press Relations for Educational and Cultural Affairs
This past summer, State Department monitoring teams visited 446 placement sites across 25 states in our efforts to monitor the health, safety, and welfare of participants. Along the way, we also stopped to listen, as J-1 participants shared with us ideas for continuing to improve the program. In total, our teams interviewed 1,582 J-1 students and 362 American host placement supervisors. The findings of these monitoring visits are now available in the 2016 Summer Work Travel Monitoring Report, including charts breaking down the findings, ranging from participant costs to hours worked to cultural activities in American communities.
What did we find out? Overall, J-1 participants expressed satisfaction with their experience in the United States. Of those J-1 participants interviewed, 97 percent reported being happy or somewhat happy with their program experience. Nearly 90 percent were happy with their sponsors. And 87 percent reported satisfaction with their housing. We also saw that opportunities to improve English-language proficiency matters to participants, as more than 90 percent of non-native English speakers said they were able to practice their English skills. This is a key reason that many participants say they want to work in the United States, and we are glad they are getting opportunities to improve their English.
We also found positive findings related to employer-arranged housing, transportation, and cultural activities. Pre-arranged housing for participants increased 12 percent from 2015, and there was a 25 percent increase in the number of participants who reported taking a shuttle or carpooling to work. This is especially important because of the potential risk to participants when they bike or walk along busy roads. Data also indicated high levels of sponsor employer communication.
There is always room for continued improvement, and we did find a few areas for future focus, including that sponsors should engage more with host employers and the community. Building direct, communicative relationships with J-1 participants, host employers, and the community will enable sponsors to be more efficient and enhance the program’s effectiveness as a public diplomacy tool that connects America to the world. We encourage you to read the entire report.
Categories: Program Spotlight
|About G. Kevin Saba|
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange
G. Kevin Saba serves as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). In this capacity, he oversees the Exchange Visitor Program, which brings around 300,000 foreign citizens to the United States annually to teach, study, and build skills. He is the Director for the Policy and Program Support Division in ECA’s Office of Private Sector Exchange.Read More
View more photos