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'Summer Work/Travel' Brings Many Students to US

Last year, 150,000 foreign college students took part in this J-1 visa exchange program during their summer vacations. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

This week, we answer a question from a student in Odessa, Ukraine. Marushka wants to know about a program that lets foreign students work in the United States during their summer vacations.

The program is called Summer Work/Travel. The State Department administers it for full-time college or university students who speak English well.

Students come on a J-one exchange visa. They can work for up to four months during their school break. They generally work in service jobs in stores, resorts, hotels, restaurants and amusement parks. But summer internships are also permitted.

"Summer" in this case means summer in the student's country. Those from south of the equator come to the United States during the northern winter.

Students cannot work as housekeepers in private homes or be involved in patient care. And they are supposed to be paid the same as Americans.

Congress created this popular program under a nineteen sixty-one law, the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act. Last year, one hundred fifty thousand students came to the United States this way.

Students can do the Summer Work/Travel program more than once.

Sally Lawrence heads the State Department office responsible for the program. She says students should begin to gather information a year before they want to travel.

More than fifty organizations are approved to act as sponsors. Sally Lawrence advises students to avoid unapproved groups offering services, and to research a few different sponsors.

Sponsors must confirm the English language ability of students and make sure they are currently in school. But sponsors do not all charge the same price for their services.

Another difference: some sponsors arrange employment and housing for students before they leave home. Others permit students to find their own jobs after they arrive.

Sally Lawrence says the first thing to do is to find the list of sponsors on the Web page for J visa exchange programs.

The address is a little long, but here it is: Click on Designated Sponsor List, then choose Summer Work/Travel under Category Description. For more information about the program, go to the main page and click on Private Sector Programs.

To make it easier, we'll post a link at And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. I'm Steve Ember.