01. Myth – THE Summer Work Travel PROGRAM is a foreign worker or guest worker program.
FACT: Summer Work Travel is a Department of State international cultural exchange program.
It was created by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 to engage and influence future leaders around the world. It is the U.S.’ largest student exchange program. Summer Work Travel students engage in work as both a cultural experience and so they can afford to visit the United States. They don’t come to the U.S. simply to work.
02. Myth – The Summer Work Travel program takes away American jobs.
FACT: The Summer Work Travel program helps create and sustain American jobs.
A 2017 analysis shows that the majority of SWT students are placed in areas with already high American employment rates. SWT students do not displace American workers, but rather supplement this American workforce, helping host businesses meet seasonal workforce needs, especially during the shoulder seasons (before Memorial Day and after Labor Day).
03. Myth – SWT participants are paid less than American workers and undercut American wages.
FACT: SWT students are paid the exact same wage as their similarly situated American co-workers.
This is enforced by Department of State regulation.
04. Myth – SWT students work in the U.S. for long periods of time.
FACT: SWT students can work for a maximum of 4 months. Their job placements must be seasonal and may not be full-time, year-round.
They cannot extend their stay on their J-1 visa.
05. Myth – SWT students are tied to their host employers and cannot change jobs.
FACT: SWT students are not tied to their host employers.
If participants want to change job placements, they can do so without obstacle, with the assistance of their sponsors. Their sponsors act as their advocates throughout their time in the U.S.
06. Myth – SWT students pay exorbitant fees, upwards of $6,000, to participate in the program.
FACT: The average worldwide fee for SWT program participation is $1,533, according to a 2016 State Department report.
This program fee covers the SWT application process, vetting and approval of host employer and job placement, orientation, assistance with local housing and transportation, sponsor support throughout the length of the program, organization of cultural activities, and accident and sickness insurance.
07. Myth – American host businesses save money by hosting SWT students.
Fact: On average, host businesses do not save money by hiring SWT students.
Host employers absorb extra costs related to the students, including organizing cultural activities, assisting with housing and transportation, and providing orientation and training. Since non-immigrant, non-citizens who are temporarily in the U.S.—like Summer Work Travel students— can’t collect Social Security or Medicare benefits, U.S. tax law exempts them from making Social Security and Medicare contributions. But Summer Work Travel students still pay federal, state, and local taxes.
08. Myth – The U.S. Government spends millions of dollars on the Summer Work Travel program.
FACT: The U.S. Government spends $0 on Summer Work Travel program participation.
No taxpayer dollars are used to fund program participation -- the international students pay their own way. The students cover all of costs associated with the program, funding their own program fees, room and board, and travel while in the United States.