U.S. changes regulations for foreign student workers

The U.S. State Department has announced what it says are some much-awaited changes to the Summer Work Travel Program, made after a review process stemming from revelations that some international students had been exploited during their participation.

“In recent years, the work component of the Summer Work Travel Program has too often overshadowed the core cultural component,” said the State Department’s announcement of the new rules. ”In addition, there have been complaints regarding job placements, work conditions, and participant accommodations.”

The new rules are intended to reemphasize the cultural component of the program, and require job placements to “provide opportunities for participants to interact regularly with U.S. citizens and experience U.S. culture.”

The revised rules also prevent students from being placed in jobs that: are primarily overnight shifts, involve body piercing, tattooing or massage, involve gambling or are with traveling fairs, are in warehouses or distribution centers or are considered hazardous to youth.

As of Nov. 1, most factory jobs will be off-limits as well.

Problems with the Summer Work Travel Program came to light in a 2010 Associated Press investigation, which found that some participants were forced to work in strip clubs, and in 2011 when students at a Hershey plant walked out to protest their working conditions.

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