Report | Contingent workforce

Shining a light on summer work: A first look at the employers using the J-1 Summer Work Travel visa

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The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program was created to enhance diplomacy and foster cultural exchange, but it has strayed
far from its mission. Summer Work Travel—the largest J-1 program category—has seemingly transformed from a program designed to foster international goodwill into a source of cheap and exploitable labor. As a result, hundreds of thousands of workers arrive in the United States on J-1 visas each year without adequate protections, and countless U.S. workers who struggle to find jobs in the same industries and communities are disadvantaged. This report by the International Labor Recruitment Working Group (ILRWG) presents a first-ever data-informed picture of employment realities in the J-1 Summer Work Travel (SWT) program. The Economic Policy Institute is a member of the ILRWG and EPI’s Daniel Costa is a co-author of the report.