US limits troubled visa program

The new rules limit the number of future participants to this year`s level.

Jackson (US): The State Department is capping
a popular exchange program for foreign college students over
persistent problems that have included low-paid participants
turning to homeless shelters, a walkout over working
conditions at a chocolate factory and in one case a woman
forced to work as a stripper.

The agency published new rules today that limit the
number of future participants to this year`s level and put a
moratorium on new businesses becoming sponsors for thousands
of foreigners who use the program to visit the United States.

The changes to the J-1 summer work and travel program
come 11 months after widespread
abuses were reported, including some students paid USD 1 an hour or less for
menial jobs.

The students given temporary visas for up to four months
are required to have jobs and often work in resorts and
restaurants. Participation has boomed from about 20,000
students in 1996 to a peak of more than 150,000 in 2008 and
roughly one million foreign post-secondary students have
participated in the past decade.

The State Department enacted stronger rules this past
summer, but says complaints remain high.
The department says future participation will be limited
to the "2011 actual participant levels."

Bureau Report


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