The Summer Work Travel Program brings more than 100,000 foreign university students to the U.S. each year to work for up to three months and then travel for a month.
The State Department, responding to complaints from foreign students about abuses under a summer cultural-exchange program, issued new rules Friday revising the types of jobs the students can do, prohibiting them from most warehouse, construction, manufacturing and food-processing work.
Several hundred foreign students in the department’s largest cultural-exchange program protested last summer at a plant in Pennsylvania packing Hershey’s chocolates. The students said they were forced to work on grueling production lines lifting heavy boxes, often on night shifts, isolated in the plant from any U.S. workers.
After pay deductions, the students said, they were paid so little they could not afford to travel in the U.S., as the program promised.
The five-decade-old Summer Work Travel Program brings more than 100,000 foreign university students to the U.S. each year to work for up to three months and then travel for a month.
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The program, which uses a visa known as J-1, is designed to give students who are not from wealthy backgrounds a chance to experience the United States.
Under rules that will take effect next week, international students will no longer be allowed to work in warehouse or packing jobs, on night shifts, or in jobs the Labor Department has designated “hazardous to youth.” After Nov. 1, students will not be allowed in most factory jobs, including manufacturing and food-processing. They also will be barred from mining, oil exploration and most construction jobs.
Most students in the program have worked in resort jobs, in hotels or restaurants as waiters, desk clerks, lifeguards or maintenance staff. Many students worked in national parks.