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Cablegate: Summer Work Travel Program Continues to Be Successful

VZCZCXRO4596
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHSO #0988/01 3521416
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181416Z DEC 07
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7757
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8900
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 8494
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 3925
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 2989
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 3235
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 2549
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0637
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 2246
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 3635

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SAO PAULO 000988

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR CA/P, CA/VO/F/P, ECA/EC/PS, ECA/EC/CU, WHA/BSC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS KFRD OEXC ELAB SMIG BR
SUBJECT: SUMMER WORK TRAVEL PROGRAM CONTINUES TO BE SUCCESSFUL

1. SUMMARY. Congen Sao Paulo attended an estimated 7726 students in
this year's Summer Work Travel (SWT) season, a 10 percent increase
over last year. The vast majority of the students were
well-prepared and qualified for the program. Brazilian exchange
agencies predict that growth will continue next year. Congen Sao
Paulo found that the best way to adapt to the growing SWT market was
increased outreach and organization, which allowed agencies and
sponsors to better understand the visa process and regulations and
the Consulate to better track participants. End Summary.

-------------------------------------------
SWT Program Grows While Maintaining Quality
-------------------------------------------

2. In this year's SWT season, Congen Sao Paulo adjudicated the
applications of 7226 students over twelve days allocated only to
these students and another 500 SWT students scheduled on regular
days. This was a 10 percent increase over last year's 7026
students. While Congen Sao Paulo expected to adjudicate 8900
students this year, this estimate proved too high. Brazilian
exchange agencies believe that the fall in the exchange rate between
the Brazilian real and the U.S. dollar discouraged students, as it
was less cost-friendly.

3. The majority of the students' SWT visa applications (98.5
percent) were approved. The main reason for visa denials was weak
English kills, cited in 63 percent of all denials. Weak uiversity
ties, either older students just starin school or students who had
skipped several semesers, accounted for 40 percent of all
refusals.
4. Beginning this year, Mission Brazil enforced standard
participation dates from 15 November to 15 March. Congen Sao Paulo
experienced good compliance with these dates, with only 18 students
denied visas because of dates outside of this range. Conoffs had
performed a large amount of outreach to both Brazilian agencies and
U.S. sponsors to explain these dates and believe that this was a
major factor in increasing compliance.

-----------------------------------------
Brazilian Market is Organized and Booming
-----------------------------------------

5. Brazil has a very organized exchange agency market. This year
Congen Sao Paulo interviewed students from 34 different agencies
located throughout the country. The agencies ranged from small,
sending only 11 students, to large, sending over 1700 students.
Overall they did an excellent job prescreening students, as
evidenced by the 98.5 acceptance rate. The variation in refusal
rates by agency was only 2 percentage points.

6. Brazilian exchange agencies believe that the SWT program will see
the most growth of all exchange programs. Demand for the program
has been growing strongly over the past 5 years. Many agencies
found that they reached the maximum number of students that they
could attend this year while maintaining the quality screening and
customer service. As the more established agencies begin to slow
the pace of recruitment, they predicted that other, possibly less
responsible, agencies will open to meet the growing demand.

7. While many agencies expect the SWT market to continue growing,
they note that other opportunities are opening in other countries.
Employers in Australia and Canada, in particular, are entering the
Brazilian market looking to fill work and travel positions. In
addition, with the strict enforcement of the November 15 to March 15
dates this year, many employers moved away from J1 programs to H2B
programs. Agencies predict, however, that this move was temporary
and that employers will return to J1 programs because of the
difficulty in obtaining H2B positions.

---------------------------------------------
Outreach Clarifies Process and Qualifications
---------------------------------------------

8. Conoffs in charge of the J portfolio focused heavily this year on
outreach. Officers attended job recruitment fairs, orientations,
and information meetings and held meetings with U.S. sponsors and
Brazilian agency representatives, reaching approximately 2000
students, 35 U.S. sponsor and employer representatives, and 12
different exchange agencies. At each opportunity, Conoffs explained
the importance of exchange programs to the U.S. government and our

SAO PAULO 00000988 002 OF 002


excitement about the SWT program, as well as how the visa process
works and how officers evaluate candidates for this program.

9. Feedback on outreach efforts was very positive. Agencies and
students noted that the visa process was much more transparent this
year, students were less nervous, and there was an open channel for
communication with the Consulate. Repeated outreach efforts showed
tangible results with the third largest exchange agency, which sent
over 700 students this year. Last year, this agency had a ten
percent refusal rate, this year the rate was only 3.7 percent.

-----------------------------------------
Date Restrictions: Much Ado About Nothing
-----------------------------------------

10. This year Mission Brasilia implemented standard participation
dates from 15 November and 15 March. While Brazilian exchange
agencies, U.S. sponsors and employers were initially very worried
about the enforcement of the standard participation dates, most
agencies agree that they had little impact on the program overall.
Alan Pakes, the director of Invista em Voce, an agency that
processed about 200 students, said, "The enforcement of these dates
helps us convince students to return to classes at the beginning of
the next semester."

11. The main impact of the date restriction was that ski lodges,
which had previously recruited heavily in Brazil, decreased the
number of positions for Brazilians, as their high season stretches
into April. Agencies met Brazilian demand, however, by increasing
their spots in other areas, i.e, fast food. Nevertheless, several
agencies remain concerned that any further date restrictions could
cause a severe decline in demand for Brazilians.

-----------------------------------------
Increased Organization Improves Processes
-----------------------------------------

12. Congen Sao Paulo also increased its oversight of SWT agencies.
In July, we met with the agencies and required them to register and
provide contact information and information about recruiting
processes in order to participate this year. We also required them
to bring two representatives to guide their students through the
process. Agencies were given sample folders that showed all required
and recommended documents. Congen Sao Paulo also required that each
student bring a letter from their agency, which helped Conoffs to
track issuances and refusals. Conoffs gave tours to agency
representatives before their interview days, so that they were
familiar with the process and could explain it to their students.

13. As a result, students were better prepared for their interviews,
with the majority of them arriving with documents in order. This
allowed for a faster process and less stress. One student
commented, "The interview was super calm, not a seven-headed
monster."

14. Interviewing Conoffs also had more information about individual
agencies and their screening processes and monitored refusal rates
by agency as the season progressed. We contacted agencies when we
noticed a rise in refusal rates and explained why students were
refused. Congen Sao Paulo also requires that each agency send a
report in April showing how many students applied to their program,
how many they accepted, how many received visas, and how many
returned at the end of the program. Agencies must account for the
status of each student who did not return to Brazil. The Consulate
hopes that this encourages agencies to be more accountable for their
students.

15. COMMENT. The growing SWT program presents a challenge for
Congen Sao Paulo, which must accommodate a large number of students
in a short period of time. Increased organization and outreach
greatly improved this year's season. Students, agencies, and U.S.
employers and sponsors had better understanding of the regulations
that guide the visa process. Conoffs were able to organize the
reserved days to better accommodate agencies and provide increased
agency oversight. This contributed to better prescreening and
organization by agencies, a decrease in the refusal rate, and an
easier work flow. Conoffs hope that these efforts will allow the
Consulate to meet the needs of the program as it continues to grow
in Brazil. End Comment.

#White

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