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Re: State Dept revamps J-1 Summer Work Visa Program

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avatar State Dept revamps J-1 Summer Work Visa Program
May 04, 2012 09:39AM
US Revamps Student Work Visa Program After Abuses
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/us-announces-visa-program-16278662

In my summer trips to national parks, I remember a lot of the workers were foreign college students who came to the US on J-1 visas including those at Yellowstone, Zion, Grand Teton, and SEKI. There are several companies that recruit college students in Europe, Asia, and Latin America for these summer jobs. I remember meeting with waiters, busboys, desk clerks, and maids who were from diverse places like Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, China, and Finland.
avatar Re: State Dept revamps J-1 Summer Work Visa Program
May 05, 2012 09:22PM
Well, working in our National Parks would definitely fit the criteria of the new rules, especially if they were assigned jobs as clerks and wait staff, but not so much if they was assigned jobs in housekeeping (which unfortunately many have been assigned in the past).

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avatar Re: State Dept revamps J-1 Summer Work Visa Program
May 06, 2012 08:51AM
Quote
plawrence
Well, working in our National Parks would definitely fit the criteria of the new rules, especially if they were assigned jobs as clerks and wait staff, but not so much if they was assigned jobs in housekeeping (which unfortunately many have been assigned in the past).

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I think the big brouhaha was when a company providing services to Hershey brought in a lot of these workers and the conditions were so bad and the paycheck deductions (for housing, etc) were so high that they walked out. There was no cultural exchange aspect. The Hershey name was invoked, but apparently the employer was only a company providing packaging services for Hershey's products.

It's also possible for those in the US on student visas to work in the summer, but supposedly that has to be limited to the field of study. An accounting major could work the books, while a hospitality management major could do pretty much anything from maid service to waitressing.

I remember talking to some of the various workers. Many were trying to improve their English and were happy to talk to people. I remember the Finnish desk clerk at Roosevelt Lodge in Yellowstone. There were a large group of Russians at the Lodgepole area in SEKI. I remember seeing a group of them on their day off taking the free shuttle.

I think the biggest problem may be the uncertainty of where one arrives. One of the summer workers told me that they applied with one of the services companies that told potential workers that they would be brought to a large national park in the US, but didn't have the option of selecting which one. Once they got in the US they found out where they were assigned. Many of them had heard of Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, or Yosemite, but frankly few had ever heard of Zion or Bryce Canyon. Another issue is transportation. While Yellowstone may seem like a great place, it's tough to get around without your own transportation. They don't have free shuttles and the official tour buses that Xanterra runs are expensive. SEKI wasn't bad because they ran regular shuttles, even if they're lightly used. Zion was decent enough with their regular free shuttles, including the one in Springdale.

However, I do believe that it is a great cultural program to be in our national parks. They probably attend many of the programs and get to meet people from around the world.
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