Rachel Micah-Jones’ opinion article, “U.S. summer work visa exploits foreigners,” (August 6) neglects to mention the strong evidence that the Summer Work Travel program (SWT) is both protecting participants and serving our national security interests.
While we cannot comment on her reported site visits, the picture she paints is in sharp contrast with a rigorous, empirical study in 2017 of SWT. That study shows that 91 percent of alumni reported being satisfied with the program, and 74 percent said they had a higher overall regard for the United States.
Protection of participants is critical to SWT sponsor organizations and to the State Department, which oversees the program. All host employers and job placements are thoroughly vetted; all participants must be paid the exact same wage as American co-workers; and all participants can change job placements at any time – a participant’s visa is never tied to their host employer. U.S. sponsor organizations are in monthly contact with every participant, and meet with many in person during site visits. There are many more regulatory protections beyond these.
Perhaps one of the more important statistics of the 2017 SWT study is that 98 percent of alumni said they would recommend the program to a friend. That statistic demonstrates that, for the vast majority of SWT participants, the program is successful in providing international students with positive, life-changing experiences.