Exchange Visitor Program

Each year, thousands of international students and professionals visits the United States on J-1 exchange visitor visas. During their stay in the U.S., these international visitors greatly enrich the American homes, schools, businesses, and communities in which they live, study, and work.

J Day is a nationwide celebration of the power of these international exchange programs and a great opportunity to raise awareness of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program (EVP).

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A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program, released this afternoon, commends the Department of State on its strengthened oversight of SWT, while acknowledging the public diplomacy value of this exchange program that brings up-and-coming leaders to the U.S. for summer cultural experiences.

(Update 10/8/14: An additional significant change not included in our original analysis has been added below [see bullet #7, and further comment on that bullet in the section titled “Significant changes to sponsor representations and disclosures: section 62.9(d)(3)”].)

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Revisions to Subpart A, the general provisions of the regulations governing the Department of State Exchange Visitor Program, were released in today’s Federal Register. The rule is interim final and goes into effect January 5, 2015 (except revised insurance amounts, which become applicable on May 15, 2015). The Department is accepting comments on the rule for 60 days, until December 5, 2014.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Private Sector Exchange Robin Lerner and staff of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) are traveling across the U.S. this July and August to visit international exchange participants, particularly of the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program, at their placement sites.

A recent YouTube video details the work of SWT Alumni Macedonia, the first ever Summer Work Travel Association of its kind worldwide.

The alumni association was initiated by the Department of State and its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), and is a non-profit organization formed and run by students.

The Department of State released in today’s Federal Register a final rule that increases fees and charges for sponsor (re)designation, as well as the J-1 visa holder administrative fee.

According to the rule:

For the many Summer Work Travel (SWT) students at the Jersey Shore, working in seasonal jobs for employers like Morey’s Piers, their experience in the United States is not just a cultural exchange that allows them to meet Americans and see the real America; it is also an important opportunity to grow as a person.  

The Department of State has “dispatch[ed] two senior officials to assess the situation” in Palmyra and Hershey, PA, where J-1 Summer Work Travel students are protesting their employer and working conditions, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reports.

This week marked the celebration of two prominent milestones in citizen diplomacy and people-to-people exchanges: the 70th Anniversary of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and the 50th Anniversary of the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV).

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