Proposed Immigration Reform Could Harm J-1 Visa Program

The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill that many believe will be debated in Congress this summer could have a detrimental effect on the J-1 exchange visitor program.  Specifically, if the bill passes as it is currently written, there will be an additional $500 fee for each individual J-1 Summer Work/Travel participant.  This additional fee is meant to support border security and must be paid by the J-1 sponsor or the employer – it cannot be passed on to the employee.

In addition, the bill prohibits any costs from foreign labor contractors from being passed along to foreign employees.   These recruiting agencies, which are routinely used to match foreign college students and workers with J-1 employers in the U.S., cannot charge the employees for visa assistance, recruitment or any other costs of their services.  These costs must instead be paid by the employer.

It is thought that these new provisions will hit the J-1 Summer Work/Travel program the hardest.  This program, which typically brings foreign college students to summer hotspots like amusement parks, hotels and other tourist attractions, has already seen tougher regulations passed in the past year.  Employers that use the Summer Work/Travel program to supplement their workforce may no longer be able to afford these employees, which will put a strain on their businesses.  If this program ceases to exist, it will also harm the foreign students, who gain valuable cultural experience in the United States regardless of the complexity of their position.

For more information about the potential impact that this bill may have on the J-1 program, please contact Grzeca Law Group.


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