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Cablegate: Jamaica: J1 Validation Study Shows Good Usage and Returns

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKG #1142/01 3551613
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211612Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KINGSTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0437
INFO RUEHBH/AMEMBASSY NASSAU
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS
RUEHDG/AMEMBASSY SANTO DOMINGO
RUEHKG/AMEMBASSY KINGSTON
RUEHPU/AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
RUEHWN/AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN

UNCLAS KINGSTON 001142

SIPDIS
DEPT FOR CA/FPP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS SMIG KFRD OEXC JM
SUBJECT: Jamaica: J1 Validation Study Shows Good Usage and Returns

1. (U) SUMMARY: U.S. Embassy Kingston's Fraud Prevention Unit
conducted a validation study on Jamaican J1 applicants who received
J1 visas between May and August 2009. In our study, we
concentrated on summer work and travel students, who make up the
majority of J1 applicants seen at Embassy Kingston. The results of
our study show that the J1 summer work and travel program is viable
and generally very well-used by Jamaican post-secondary students.
Based on the study, and the results, we plan to target audiences
for outreach to ensure that the program continues to be a
successful tool for Jamaican students to participate in a cultural
exchange.

A Popular Choice: Summer Work and Travel

2. (U) The majority of J1 applicants seen at U.S. Embassy Kingston
are summer work and travel participants, who are enrolled in
post-secondary institutions in Jamaica. In calendar year 2009,
Kingston has issued 3,356 J1 visas and refused 568, representing a
J1 refusal rate of 14 percent in this category. [Comment: In
calendar year 2009, refusal rates for B1 B2 visas were
approximately 50 percent. End Comment.] For Jamaican
post-secondary students, the summer work and travel program is
well-marketed and supported by all of the major universities.
Though Embassy Kingston sees a variety of courses of study for J1
applicants, a large number are majoring in hospitality or catering.
In 2009, some applicants were refused because their institutions
were determined to be vocational schools, which did not meet FAM
requirements for the J1 program. Overall, however, the J1 category
sees a low rate of refusals at this post and includes many repeat
participants.

Representing Jamaica: Sample Details

3. (U) Using Fraud Prevention Program (FPP) guidance, Kingston
randomly selected a sample of 800 J1 visa issuances and submitted
them for arrival and departure checks. After receiving results,
Kingston removed any J1 interns or trainees, who were travelling on
one-year programs, as well as students who were unable or chose not
to travel after being issued a visa. The total workable sample
size was 702 Jamaican applicants. The sample included 263 males
and 439 females. Our sample included students from 25 universities
and post-secondary education schools, representing almost all such
institutions in Jamaica. Within the sample set, 79 applicants (11
percent) had existing B1 B2 visas, and 136 applicants (19 percent)
had previously participated in the J1 program.

Context of Results

4. (U) To establish baselines for good and bad, or timely and
untimely travel, the Kingston Fraud Prevention Unit queried
universities and post-secondary institutions regarding start dates
for the 2009 fall semester. We selected a uniform return date
based on the school with the latest start date. [Comment:
Excelsior Community College and GC Foster Community College had
start dates of September 14, 2009, though the most populated
universities resumed classes in August. A one-week buffer was
added to the latest start date to accommodate potential travel
delays, as well as to acknowledge that many post-secondary
institutions in Jamaica use the first week of classes for purely
administrative activities. End Comment.] Using this process, we
determined that "good" travel would involve the student returning
on or before September 20, 2009.

5. (U) Bad travel was reclassified to better categorize our
results: we identified applicants, who returned after the start
date of classes as 'untimely' travel and specified in which month
they returned. Lastly, students whose return could not be
confirmed through follow-up calls or electronic records were
labeled as inconclusive.

The Verdict Is: Great!

6. (U) Results show that virtually every J1 summer work and travel
program participant returned to Jamaica. Specifically, only one
student applied to adjust status in the U.S. and only 13 students
(2 percent) were labeled as inconclusive as their return could not
be confirmed through follow-up calls, emails, or through their
post-secondary institution's registrar.

----------

Results Summary

Good travel (returning on or before Sep. 20, 2009): 567 applicants,

81 percent of sample

Untimely travel (Total): 121 applicants, 17 percent of sample

-Returning between Sep. 21, 2009 and Sep. 30, 2009: 80 applicants

-Returning between Oct.1, 2009 and Oct. 31, 2009: 35 applicants

-Returning between Nov. 1, 2009 and Nov. 30, 2009: 6 applicants

Adjusted status: 1 applicant


Inconclusive: 13 applicants, 2 percent of sample

----------

7. (U) Further analysis shows that applicants with existing B1 B2
visas (79 applicants, 11 percent percent of workable sample) were
not more likely to have a timely return than any other
participants; in fact, 60 applicants who have existing B1 B2 visas
returned timely and 15 applicants with B1 B2 visas did not. As
such, having a B1 B2 visa is not in and of itself a reason to
assume that the applicant will return prior to the start of
classes; we could not confirm a return to Jamaica for two J1
holders that also had B1 B2 visas.

8. (U) In regards to previous participants, we found that 136
applicants or 19 percent percent were previously issued a J1 visa
and those applicants did tend to travel well on their second year
with the program. Specifically, 80 percent of repeat participants
returned in a timely fashion, mirroring the travel pattern of the
sample group as a whole. Nevertheless, four repeat J1 holders did
not have a confirmed return to Jamaica.

Understanding Results and Making improvements

9. (U) We concluded that the delayed returns (those after the start
of classes) may most likely be a result of a lack of outreach and
education on the visa requirements. Embassy Kingston plans to
address this issue by engaging in outreach to students and
administrators at post-secondary institutions, as well as local
agents arranging program participation for students. Specifically,
Embassy Kingston plans to target the students at those schools,
whose rates of untimely returns were the highest.

Troubling Trends: Individual Stories of Program Difficulties

10. (U) During the course of follow-up, Embassy Kingston
interviewed several students to determine if they experienced any
difficulties on the program, which relate to Wilberforce Act
protections and rights. We found at least two instances of
students that had problems receiving a Social Security Number (SSN)
and their salary payments. In fact, one student stated that he was
assigned a restaurant location the day before he departed Jamaica,
that he resided with his employer, and that his employer paid him
with a "loan" since his SSN was not set up. The student advised
that his sponsoring agent, the Ukraine Foundation, provided little
to no assistance with obtaining a SSN or his salary. Based on
these findings, which may or may not be representative of the
majority of program participants, Embassy Kingston plans to
emphasize Wilberforce Act protections during planned outreach and
during upcoming interviews in 2010.

11. (U) CONCLUSION: The J1 visa, particularly the summer work and
travel program, is an excellent diplomatic tool for Jamaica.
Results from a sample of 2009 J1 summer work and travel
participants shows that virtually all Jamaican students abide by
the terms of their visas and return to Jamaica in a fairly timely
manner. Embassy Kingston plans to address untimely returns, those
after the start of classes, as well as provide information on the
Wilberforce Act rights and protections through targeted outreach
activities in advance of the 2010 season.
Parnell

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