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[Federal Register: January 24, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 15)]
[Page 3914]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



[Public Notice 5281]

Title: Statement of Policy on J-1 Agriculture Training Programs

AGENCY: Department of State.

ACTION: Statement of policy.


DATES: Effective Date: This policy is effective January 24, 2006.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stanley S. Colvin, Director, Office of 
Exchange Coordination and Designation, U.S. Department of State, SA-44, 
301 4th St., SW., Room 734, Washington, DC 20547. E-mail:; FAX: 202-203-5087.

SUMMARY: The Department hereby announces its policy regarding 
agriculture training programs, which are governed by the Department's 
Exchange Visitor Program regulations appearing in 22 CFR part 62.
    Since 1949 the Department has permitted designated sponsors to 
conduct programs designed to train individuals in many industrial, 
professional, agricultural, and other occupational skills. Training 
programs utilizing the J visa are regulated by the Department under the 
authority of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, 
as amended (Fulbright-Hays Act), 22 U.S.C. 2451 et seq.; the 
Immigration and Naturalization Act, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(J); the 
Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998, Public Law 105-
277; as well as other statutory enactments, Reorganization Plans and 
Executive Orders. Regulations dealing with training programs appear at 
22 CFR 62.22.
    In 2005, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined the 
Department's management of the J visa Summer Work Travel and Trainee 
programs to ensure that only authorized activities are carried out 
under the programs and to identify potential risks of the programs and 
the data available to the Department to assess those risks. (``Stronger 
Action Needed to Improve Oversight and Assess Risks of the Summer Work 
Travel and Trainee Categories of the Exchange Visitor Program,'' GAO-
06-106, October 2005.)
    Among other things, the GAO Report found that there was a potential 
that the trainee programs could be misused as employment programs and 
that trainees could be exploited by employers or other third parties. 
Agricultural training programs were found to be particularly 
problematic because of the potential for fraud. Abuses of the training 
regulations were not hidden; there were cases where there was not even 
an attempt to represent jobs as training, and which certain employers 
referred to their program participants as employees, rather than 
trainees. In one case cited, four trainees were placed with dairy farms 
that had an agreement with the program sponsor. Only one of the 
trainees had a firm grasp of English, and only one of the four farms 
participating in the program had a structured training plan. There were 
questions as to whether such programs were merely utilizing trainees 
for cheap labor and whether the trainees were simply receiving enough 
training to perform their work. (GAO Report, pp. 17, 21).
    The Department has taken steps to address these concerns. Among 
other things, the Department has consulted with the Department of Labor 
and the Department of Agriculture in order to develop ways to better 
monitor agricultural training programs and to determine whether such 
agriculture training programs are subject to, and if so, whether they 
are in compliance with, existing statutes such as the Fair Labor 
Standards Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 201, et seq., and the Migrant and 
Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act, Public Law 97-470, 29 
U.S.C. 1801 et seq.
    Pending the Department's resolution of these outstanding issues, 
the Department of State will not designate any new J visa agricultural 
training programs, nor will it permit currently-designated training 
programs offering agricultural training to expand the agricultural 
training component of their programs. Redesignation of programs will 
continue as required by existing regulations.

    Dated: January 18, 2006.
Stanley S. Colvin,
Director, Office of Exchange Coordination, Bureau of Educational and 
Cultural Affairs, Department of State.
[FR Doc. E6-820 Filed 1-23-06; 8:45 am]