The Trump administration is considering reductions in the J-1 visa category, specifically the summer work and travel program. The program has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for increasing competition for American workers, especially teenagers, and this category’s high visa overstay rate.
The Summer Work Travel program allows foreign students to spend up to four months living and working temporary jobs in the U.S. Under the exchange visa, employers do not have to pay Social Security and Medicare tax, they do not have to pay for the worker’s health insurance, and the employer is not bound by the prevailing wage requirements.
This has created financial incentives for employers to bring in cheap, seasonal foreign labor instead of hiring American teenagers. According to Bloomberg, other labor economists say that "the single-biggest explanation for the decline is that teenagers face stiff competition for what were once summer jobs from other workers, especially immigrants."
“The J-1 program for foreign college students is supposed to be used as a cultural exchange program, a program to bring young people into this country to learn about our customs and to support international cooperation and understanding,” Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said on the Senate floor during a 2013 immigration debate. “But instead of doing that, this program has morphed…into a low-wage jobs program to allow corporations…to replace young American workers with cheaper labor from overseas.”
A recent DHS report showed that student and exchange visitors had one of the highest overstay rates. The report stated that the total overstay rate for J visas was 3.8% compared to 1.47% for all visa categories.
The administration is not looking to cut the non-work student visas under the J-1 category.
Read more on this story at The Wall Street Journal.
Updated: Mon, Sep 11th 2017 @ 11:30am EDT