State Dept. Proposes Rule on Exchange Visitor Program for Teachers
This rule makes final the Department's proposed rule published on May 2, 2013. The Department, with this rule, amends its existing regulations governing the Teacher category of the Exchange Visitor Program. This final rule permits program participation of teachers teaching full-time at accredited public or private primary and secondary schools (K-12), including pre-kindergarten teachers in “language immersion” programs offered as regular courses of study by accredited primary schools; requires exchange teachers to have two years of full-time teaching experience; clarifies that the duration of program participation by exchange teachers is three years, with an extension permitted for one or two additional years of participation based on school need and exchange teacher performance during the exchange; permits participation by otherwise qualified teachers who are not currently working, but who are returning to teaching after successfully pursuing an advanced degree beyond the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree; introduces a required cross-cultural activity component; requires program sponsors to disclose fees and costs to foreign teachers at the time of both recruitment and selection into the program; and implements a requirement that exchange teachers not be eligible for repeat participation unless they reside outside the United States for two years following their teacher exchange program. In amending the Teacher category regulations, the Department: Reforms the teacher exchange program; strengthens provisions designed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of exchange teachers; and reinforces the program's prestige as a world-class U.S. public diplomacy initiative. The rule applies to all J-Nonimmigrant exchange teachers, except when the teacher's program is covered by a separate agreement between the United States and the relevant foreign government as permitted under Department regulations.