Results of Study Indicate That the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program Delivers Significant Public Policy Benefits and Strengthens the U.S. Economy

ROCKVILLE, MD, September 12, 2017 – EurekaFacts, an independent market research and analysis firm, conducted a comprehensive study of the Department of State’s J-1 Summer Work Travel (SWT) program. SWT is one of fourteen categories of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. SWT brings more than 100,000 college students from 100 countries to the United States during their summer university breaks. These students typically work in seasonal employment at amusement parks, ski destinations, and small hospitality businesses during the peak season.

The assessment included a comprehensive review of the program, surveys of international participants from the past five years, interviews and surveys of U.S. host employers, and labor market statistics for the areas where the program operates.

Key findings of the research show that the program delivers significant benefits to the U.S. in terms of public diplomacy:

  • SWT participants leave the program with higher regard and understanding of the United States.
  • Seventy-six percent (76%) of SWT participants reported higher overall regard for the U.S.
  • Three in four (75%) SWT participants say their opinions of American people became more positive.
  • Seventy-three percent (73%) of SWT participants reported cultural exchange as their top reason for participating, and only 3 percent reported earning money as their top reason.

Key findings also show that there is no statistical relationship between the number of SWT participants and U.S. youth unemployment rates.

The analysis suggests that SWT participants supplement the existing American workforce rather than compete for existing jobs with local workers.

Additionally, key findings show that the program meets the internal needs of American small businesses:

  • Ninety-seven percent (97%) of host employers reported a shortage of seasonal workers.
  • Fifty percent (50%) reported that the absence of SWT students would have a major negative impact on their business.
  • One quarter (25%) reported it likely they would not be able to stay open.

The analysis also shows that the estimated total contribution of SWT participants to the U.S. economy in 2016 was $509 million ($5,300 per participant).

The study was led by Public Affairs Research Director Alec Ulasevich, PhD, and Malinda Rhone, PhD, and company principal Jorge Restrepo, MGA, following the international quality for market, public opinion and social research ISO 20252, to which EurekaFacts is certified.

To access a copy of the full report go to

Read how this research was the basis for a 2017 HuffPost article, letters from Senators and Representatives to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and a letter to Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Leahy. View the Americans for Cultural Exchange SWT heatmap showing the impact on US States.


About EurekaFacts
EurekaFacts is a full-service market and social research firm in the Washington, D.C. area. We help leaders understand and shape successful programs, communications, and brands through data collection and advanced analytics. Since 2003, we have collaborated with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporations to answer their research questions and business objectives. EurekaFacts is ISO 20252 certified, the highest quality standard in market and social research.

About the Alliance for International Exchange
The Alliance for International Exchange (formerly Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange) is an association of 90 nongovernmental organizations comprising the international educational and cultural exchange community in the United States. Founded in 1993, after a merger of the International Exchange Association and the Liaison Group for International Educational Exchange, the Alliance serves as the only collective public policy voice of the exchange community.