Supporting U.S. national security & foreign policy priorities

Summer Work Travel students take home positive impressions of America. These university students move back into a broad range of professions in their home countries where they are likely to be influencers. Their exchange experiences create a foundation for positive relationships and trust with our country, equipping these future leaders with favorable impressions of America, firsthand experience with American business practices, and improved English skills.


Participants are university students from around the world. They are the future business, political, and civil society leaders of their countries.


Over 50 years, 1 million+ students from around the world have experienced American culture and values through SWT.


Helping local American businesses succeed 

The Summer Work Travel program engages American businesses as hosts. This collaboration helps local businesses—many of them small and family-operated, and all in tourist locations—to fulfill short-term, high-volume needs during peak seasons and the shoulder seasons (before Memorial Day and after Labor Day). These staffing needs are otherwise unmet due to a shortage of local workers available. If the number of SWT participants were cut back, local businesses would have to cut back as well: on their operating hours, the number of Americans they can hire full time, and the number of American families on vacation they can host.

Contributing to local economies

SWT participants contribute to local American economies, spending their personal funds on living expenses, travel, shopping, and more.

Supporting American Jobs

SWT students supplement and sustain the existing American workforce in seasonal areas. They are placed in tourist destinations with already high American employment rates.

Facilitating a 360° cultural exchange

By living in the U.S. and interacting with Americans on a daily basis, international students learn firsthand about American culture and American citizens The program also allows Americans (co-workers, customers, and hosts) to learn about the students and their countries and cultures, fostering mutual respect and understanding. A key purpose of SWT is to encourage meaningful interactions between visiting students and Americans.

Work is an integral part of the cultural experience. International students learn about American free market business practices and a transparent work culture, interact with American co-workers and customers, improve their English language skills, and in the process earn money to help defray the cost of their travels throughout the U.S. Outside of their work hours, students further learn about American culture by getting involved in their communities, engaging in volunteer and leadership activities, and traveling and sightseeing. They gain a broader cultural understanding of the U.S., its customs, and its values.

97% Program Satisfaction

The Department of State found that 97% of 2016 Summer Work Travel students were happy with their experience in the U.S.

50+ Years of Cultural Exchange

Authorized in 1961, Summer Work Travel is the Department of State’s largest international student exchange program with ~100,000 participants each year.