Have you ever met a young server or a busser or a housekeeper or a cook with a heavy accent and lots of energy at a fancy resort or a restaurant somewhere in Florida or Washington or Vermont? Those are the participants of Work&Travel USA program that brings thousands of foreign students into the U.S. every year. College students from all over the world have to pass an English language test, a background check, and get a J1 visa to fill a short seasonal job in the U.S. The benefits are great for everyone involved - American employers get inexpensive, educated and highly motivated labor without the obligation to pay the benefits, guarantee the hours, or prolong the employment. Young students--especially those from Eastern Europe and Central Asia--get a chance to make good income unusual for their home countries and see the U.S. America gets a chance to market itself in person to the world's brightest youth who takes home the stories and the experience. Each participant usually works for three months, and then is allowed a month in the country to travel.
For a young college student such trip is usually a life-changing experience. Many of my friends and I have come to the U.S.; those experiences have changed our lives and careers in more than one way - some of my past fellow servers and bussers today are highly-paid PWC and EY consultants in Moscow and Kiev, Microsoft employees in Seattle, etc. However, this year many Russian and other Eastern European students will not get the same chance to explore the States and the American lifestyle. In October 2010, more than 20 Eastern European students (11 Russians among them) in the early twenties were identified by the FBI as participants in a grand banking scheme.