Support J-1 Workers across the United States Demanding Assistance and Accountability

Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, D.C., U.S. State Department, U.S. Visa Sponsors, Host Companies, and Philippine Recruitment Agencies

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The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted workers in the hospitality industry. This includes foreign hospitality workers on the J-1 visa, who have been terminated, indefinitely furloughed, or are experiencing significantly reduced hours. J-1 workers who have returned to the Philippines now find themselves deep in debt with no income to recover. The majority who remain in the U.S. are awaiting the uncertain possibility of returning to their worksites.

The U.S. State Department grants 300,000 J-1 visas every year. J-1 visa workers are placed in different host companies—mostly hotels, restaurants, schools, and health care institutions—all over the country. Thousands of J-1 workers are being lured in by false promises of “internship” and “training” programs within the hospitality industry only to find out that internship and training plans are not followed and no cultural exchange takes place. Essentially, J-1 workers are being exploited as a profitable replacement for the domestic workforce. Employers avoid the costs of recruitment fees and travel expenses by hiring J-1 workers, who shoulder these expenses. Meanwhile recruiters and visa sponsors amass profits by charging them “program fees” of up to $10,000.

J-1 workers have suffered exploitative conditions and are now without adequate income. They are buried deep in debt and are isolated from their loved ones. Despite these circumstances, they continue to fight. In April, hundreds of Filipino J-1 workers from across the country came together to form the J-1 Workers Network to collectively call for protection, transparency, and accountability from the U.S. and Philippine governments, visa sponsors, host companies, and recruitment agencies.

We are community members who stand with the J-1 Workers Network in their demands for assistance and accountability. We, too, call on the U.S. and Philippine governments, visa sponsors, host companies, and recruitment agencies to immediately respond to their urgent needs.

READ: J-1 Workers Network Open Letter

WATCH: J-1 Workers Network Press Conference, “Hundreds of Exploited Filipino J-1 Workers Denounce Abandonment by Philippine Government, Recruiters and Visa Sponsors

Petition by
J1 Network
Dallas, Texas
Sponsored by

To: Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, D.C., U.S. State Department, U.S. Visa Sponsors, Host Companies, and Philippine Recruitment Agencies
From: [Your Name]

We are community members who stand with the J-1 Workers Network in their demands for assistance and accountability. We, too, call on the U.S. and Philippine governments, visa sponsors, host companies, and recruitment agencies to immediately respond to their urgent needs. In particular, we are calling on:

1. The Philippine government to:

a. Support J-1 workers with financial assistance through its Assistance to Nationals program for: rent, purchasing plane tickets, and reimbursement for those who have already bought a plane ticket;
b. Provide legal assistance for taxes, immigration, labor rights, and other areas of concern;
c. Investigate and prosecute recruitment agencies accountable for neglect and corruption; and
d. Declare cash bonds and post-dated checks unenforceable, and refund any cash paid.

2. Visa sponsors and recruitment agencies to:

a. Take responsibility for the well-being and safety of J-1 workers;
b. Communicate clearly and timely with J-1 workers, instead of neglecting them;
c. Assure J-1 workers of their programs’ restarting or extension;
d. Provide a full refund of program fees, all miscellaneous fees, and provide receipts for all payments, if program was not completed or was suddenly terminated;
e. Provide damage compensation;
f. Pay J-1 workers in the full amount written in their contracts; and
g. Stop the harassment of J-1 workers and their relatives in the Philippines for payments.

3. The US government to:

a. Provide assistance for J-1 workers victimized and abused due to discrimination; and
b. Protect J-1 workers during disasters and emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.