Do foreign student workers rob American jobs?

That's becoming a growing a criticism, but tighter rules already have led to fewer takers from overseas.

By Aimee Picchi Jul 15, 2013 8:12AM

Campers building a fire with their camp counselor (© Hero Images/Lifesize/Getty Images)The Summer Work Travel program is often seen as a valuable cultural exchange program, bringing young foreign students to the U.S. to study and work for four months over the summer. 

But to critics like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I.-Vt., the program robs America's youth of employment opportunities.

"In street corners all over this country, there are kids who have nothing to do," Sanders said last month. "Many of the jobs that used to be done by young Americans are now being performed by foreign college students."

Under the immigration legislation that the Senate passed on June 27, potential employers would have to pay a $100 fee on each summer worker, Bloomberg reports. 

That might cut back hiring by small businesses that have used the program previously, supporters of the program say. The fee would also come after previous years of rule tightening, which has led to a decline in Summer Work Travel participants. 

The number of foreign student visas has been capped at 109,000, but only about 73,000 applications were filled this year, Bloomberg said. At the program's peak in 2008, the government issued 153,700 visas. 

Employers ranging from summer camps to Walt Disney's (DIS) Walt Disney World and McDonald's (MCD) franchisees have looked to the program to staff up during the summer. 

What's undeniable is that the jobless rate is high for Americans 20 to 24 years old. More than 13% of people in that age group were unemployed in June, compared with overall U.S. unemployment rate of 7.6%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

The program came into unflattering focus in March, when students claimed they had been exploited by a McDonald's franchisee, forcing them to live in poor housing conditions while receiving little in the way of enriching cultural experiences. 

Some employers say foreign students are more willing than American youths to take on unpopular jobs, such as food preparation, Bloomberg noted. Hugh Fuller of the Purple Parrot Grill in Rehoboth Beach, Del., told the news service: "We have certain jobs that, you know, it comes down to, American people just won't do."

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

Jul 15, 2013 11:00AM

When worried about jobs taken from U.S. citizens look to the big picture.


No U.S. citizen or legal resident should be denied a job because of the presence of an illegal alien.


Nor should a skilled worker because of IT workers they can get for less than half the pay from India and the like. 

Jul 15, 2013 9:01AM
i worked my way thru college working in kitchens.  i could never do that today because i do not speak spanish.  summer kid jobs are gone now. 
Jul 15, 2013 12:20PM
Yes and add in the illegals , America's politicians are totally out of touch with what is happening in the real world of today's population and if it continues very much longer we are in BIG trouble. 
Jul 15, 2013 1:16PM

Employers are complaining that they can't find decent workers to do their jobs at minimum wages, yet say CEO salaries are justified and have to pay them their millions to do their job, because "they're worth it." 

So paying exorbitant salaries for CEOs is worth it, while trying to pay everyone else minimum wages and not getting takers is because the US workers aren't willing to work?


I don't think they would have any problem getting workers if they paid enough to make it worth their while,  just like the CEO job, don't you think?

Jul 15, 2013 2:11PM
If you ever really want to see how disastrous this problem is, come to the Seattle area. Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, Intel and others hire Chinese and Indian people to the extent that in most places you go on the Eastside, you, the American, are the minority.

It's literally overwhelming and so sick and sad that these HIGH PAYING jobs are going to foreign workers which also means they bring the whole family here as well.

If you know anyone who works at these companies or in this area, just ask them to be honest as to how they feel about this and they'll tell you how horrible and destructive it is.  Ask those who are shut out from these American companies how they feel and they'll tell you they want the foreign workers gone.  America sold it's people out.....

Jul 15, 2013 12:29PM
There is NO shortage of qualified Americans for STEM jobs.  (See the Upstart Biz Journals article on the study from around May 1, 2013.)  Our business and political leaders just want to push the American STEM employees, who are some of our best and brightest, into poverty while giving the jobs to third world immigrants to satisfy their Robin Hood complexes.  This is treason.
Jul 15, 2013 12:11PM

I've seen this big time in the pharmaceutical lab business ( Chinese, Pakistanian, Japanese, German, ...........etc.)

Furniture ( Mexican.............)

Machining ( Mexican.................)

you get the picture.

Jul 15, 2013 1:45PM
Welcome to the new America "Americans". Our jobs are being off shored to Asia,Mexico and every other slave wage nation. The few crap jobs left here we and our children cannot even get. God bless the modern America its nothing but a shell of its former great self. If a real time machine existed that would take any willing American back to the past, say the forties or fifties when this country was great id be the first to sign up. Modern America sucks and globalization sucks!
Jul 15, 2013 2:02PM
ONLY our politicians and greedy corporations think that there is a shortage of IT workers in America.  I have a post-graduate degree in Engineering and 18 years of experience in the IT field.  My current salary is less than what it was in 1997!  Only in IT filed, as your expereinces grows, your salary comes down!  With every lay off, the next job is a lower paying one.  Very simple reason for this is that we are inundated with H1Bs, L1s etc etc who are teh "cheap labors".  We have a family t o raise, mortages to pay,  education loans to pay back!   It is SAD that even the Federal and State Goverment jobs mostly go to H1Bs and L1s.  I personaly know many folks working on US Navy/EPA/Human and Health Service Dept/.. etc etc.  These department s awrd large contract to Accenture, CSC etc and this will end up with Wipro, Infosys and they will hire ONLY H1s!  American IT workers are completely bypassed and stand NO chance here.  This must be stopped!    Contact your Senators and ask them to work for  American Citizens!
Jul 15, 2013 2:28PM
People still believe that AMERICAN politicians run this country. People lose jobs due to government sequester yet we send BILLIONS of dollars that we will never see again to other countries. Yes we are very much sold out and it will only get worse with this unaccountable ROGUE GOVERNMENT.
Jul 15, 2013 2:29PM

Between Corporations farming out thousands of US jobs abroad and our issuing thousands of work visas within our borders, is there really a question here? Then add all the illegals from every country that either jumped the border or came over on other visas and never left as they should have. Gee do you think we have a problem? This country has its head up its A$$!!

Jul 15, 2013 12:06PM

 "....Hugh Fuller of the Purple Parrot Grill in Rehoboth Beach, Del., told the news service: "We have certain jobs that, you know, it comes down to, American people just won't do."...."

if you offer enough money, pay, just about any one will do anything! lies to keep pays low and the divide between rich and poor growing! start by having a minumum wage which a person can live on!

this country is becoming controled by corporate big companys.

Jul 15, 2013 2:30PM
If the government wants to continue their obese pay raises and benefits they need to start hiring all  American workers. Guess what, you greedy CEO's, if it wasn't for the American workers, we the American people, would not be able to buy your merchandise. It take money and money comes from us Americans having jobs.
Jul 15, 2013 3:03PM
I live in a college town and foreign students do take a lot of jobs, not just the summer/temporary ones.  They also take the entry level professional jobs and higher.  They come here and are usually joined by a spouse and then immediately have a child/children so the kids are citizens.  The jobs and children also allow them an easier path to their own citizenship.  I don't think we should deny good people but this is a huge loophole that no one is discussing.
Jul 15, 2013 2:40PM
Hmmm, so Bernie thinks a few foreign students take jobs away from American students, but millions of workers flooding through our broken borders don't take jobs from American workers?  Does anyone see a leap of logic here or is it just me?
Jul 15, 2013 2:28PM

No, Illegal aliens rob Americans of their jobs, and lower the wages of jobs.


Jul 15, 2013 2:32PM
Welcome to the new reality Americans!  Those that aren't mathematically challenged and aren't functionally illiterate have a hard enough time trying to find a job.  Imagine what trouble the ignorant masses are experiencing!  As the rest of world modernizes, the US has fallen further and further behind.  Sadly, the majority of citizens fail to realize just how far we have fallen.  Ignorance is bliss!

Jul 15, 2013 12:11PM
"forcing them to live in poor housing conditions " a vast swatch of Americans...that is their culture.  Sorry the minimum wage workers couldn't powder your butts while they slaved away at minimum wage jobs.
Jul 15, 2013 2:13PM
Wonder why.... maybe they are more educated, better workers, and show up on time? The public schools are failing, thank you teachers unions. When remedial math and reading are college courses something is VERY wrong!
Jul 15, 2013 1:32PM

The "J1" visa is small compared to the number of H1Bs and TNs working in the US.  There should be an article of how many Canadians are working in the US on TN visas. 

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?


[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 trades higher by 0.4% with all ten sectors sporting gains. The benchmark index has extended this week's gain to 1.6%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.4%) is now higher by 2.0% since last Friday.

The Leading Indicators report for August was up 0.2%, while the consensus expected a reading of 0.4%. That followed a revised increase of 1.1% for July (from 0.9%). Nasdaq +13.77 at 4607.2... NYSE Adv/Dec 1867/883... Nasdaq Adv/Dec ... More