Cate Bowman


The Rise of the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program and its Links to Youth Unemployment

I provide a contemporary snapshot of the J-1 SWT Program and explain not only why this program is on the radar of politicians and government officials, but also why I believe it merits more attention from immigration scholars. First, given the absence of scholarly attention to the J-1 SWT program, I want to describe when and why this program was created and how it has changed over time to become a program that many critics view as contributing to the American youth unemployment problem. Second, I highlight the questions that the peculiar status of the J-1 SWT visa raises regarding the relationship between immigration and labor market restructuring in the United States. Specifically, I suggest that employer use of the J-1 SWT program provides U.S. employers a flexible, alternative labor source in the current climate of immigrant restriction. I conclude with a call for the U.S. government to provide annual labor market data on employment-based J-1 programs so that policy makers and researchers can meaningfully measure potential impacts on U.S. youth unemployment.

Part of Dignity and Dollars: The Case of the U.S.


Cate Bowman (University of Colorado-Boulder)

Cate Bowman is a PhD student of sociology at the University of Colorado. Her current research is on the increased popularity of and employer reliance on the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program, a cultural exchange visa which brings international students to the United States to engage in low-skilled employment. Bowman has a decade of experience providing labor-related services as a case manager with Safe Horizon’s Anti-Human Trafficking Program (NYC), a program associate with Seedco’s Work Rewards Program, and a human trafficking outreach provider at Colorado Legal Services. Bowman holds a master’s degree in international development from the University of Pittsburgh. 

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