The J-1 visa program, which allows foreigners to come to the U.S. on an exchange program, is going to undergo an “extensive and thorough review” by the U.S. Government. The latest round of criticism against the program stems from evidence that the mafia has been using the program to import women to work in the sex industry in the U.S; this according to a federal indictment unsealed last week.
The J-1 visa program was created in 1963 to allow college students from other countries to learn, work, and travel in the U.S. as a part of a temporary cultural exchange program. The visa program has come under fire of late because of allegations of U.S. businesses using the program as a source of cheap labor. Participation in the program has boomed from about 20,000 students in 1996 to a peak of more than 150,000 in 2008, and roughly 1 million foreign students have taken part in the past decade.
There are no specifics on what changes the State Department will propose. But some of the reforms being considered would limit and refine the types of jobs students can have and expand the list of prohibited employment categories.