Combating Trafficking

TTSI wants you to be successful and safe in your U.S. teaching position. We are opposed to human trafficking and provide the information below to help you understand your rights and human trafficking.

We recommend that you download and review the “Wilberforce Pamphlet,” which gives an overview of your rights, as well as indicators of human trafficking: Download the pamphlet

If you have questions, believe that your rights have been violated, or believe that you are a victim of human trafficking, you may contact us for advice on how to get resolution or protection. We also recommend that you contact your J-1 program sponsor immediately and reach out to the many organizations that can assist you, including law enforcement, your local labor board, and organizations listed in the Pamphlet.

Your Rights

1. Be paid fairly

Your employment contract provides the details of your payment, including the annual amount, and payment schedule.

As a J-1 visa holder, you must be paid at the same rate as other teachers in comparable positions according to the approved salary structure. Your actual salary may be determined by your years of experience, education and training, and license level, but the school district must use the same process to determine your pay that it uses for all other teachers.

Your employer may make required deductions, such as taxes, and voluntary deductions, such as health insurance and pro-rated payments so that you may be paid during the summer after your school year contract ends.

If your school district employer is not complying with the terms of your contract, you may contact the local teacher union or labor board, and you should also inform your J-1 program sponsor. You are also able to seek legal assistance, if necessary.

2. Be free from discrimination

Under U.S. labor laws, your age, ethnicity, country of origin, sex, gender, marital status, religion, and other personal factors may not be held against you in any way and may not influence your employment status.

On the other hand, your job performance may affect your position in the school district, as you will be subject to the same evaluation system as all other teachers.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against, first contact your school district human resources officer. Also, you may contact the local teacher union or labor board, and you should inform your J-1 program sponsor. You are allowed to seek legal assistance, if necessary.

3. Be free from sexual harassment and exploitation

Under U.S. labor laws, sexual harassment is illegal. It can include discriminating against you because of your sex or gender. It may include pressuring you into an unwelcome sexual relationship, making negative comments about you because of your sex or gender, or promoting hostile working conditions based on your sex or gender. This can be a complicated issue, so if you believe that you are being harassed because of your sex or gender, first seek advice from your district human resource officer or contact other organizations that specialize in this issue.

Sexual exploitation means requiring you to perform sex acts for money, i.e., prostitution to earn money for another person, company, or organization. This is highly unlikely in your position as a teacher, but if you believe that this is happening to you, contact local law enforcement and your J-1 program sponsor immediately.

4. Work in a healthy and safe environment

Every school is required to be safe and healthy for students and staff members. If you believe that your school is not safe or healthy, whether for you or for your students, first communicate your concerns to your principal. If necessary, you can contact the district office. If the problem persists, contact your J-1 program sponsor.  If you are unsure about what to do, you may also contact TTSI for advice about how to resolve your concerns or other organizations that may be able to assist you. 

If you are injured while working, or if you become sick because of the working conditions, your school district employer has the responsibility to assist you with any medical payments. By law, your employer cannot fire you or retaliate against you because of your injury or sickness caused by working conditions.

However, if you are not in a safe and healthy work environment, your J-1 program sponsor may be required to assist you in transferring to a different school. TTSI will also help you find a replacement job.

5. Receive help from a teacher union or other assistance organization

Every teacher has the right to participate in a union, join in community groups, and receive any assistance with problems and concerns from labor groups or immigrant rights groups. Your employer may not punish or fire you for asking for help to protect your rights.

Previously, TTSI has directly worked with local teacher unions to get help for teachers when we believed the school district was treating them unfairly.

6. Leave an abusive job

You should never be abused by your employer. If you cannot reach a solution through the district human resource office, labor union, or other assistance organization, you have the right to leave your job. In fact, your J-1 program sponsor may be required to help you find another job! If necessary, you can get legal assistance.

Remember, you can leave your job at any time. Quitting might affect your visa status, so make sure to talk with your J-1 program sponsor before leaving your job. TTSI will also help you find a replacement job.

 

Trafficking Indicators

Indicator

TTSI Practices and Principles

Threats and Fear

“threats and other intimidating acts to make you or others feel too afraid to try to leave”

Examples:

  • Beatings, physical abuse, or sexual abuse;
  • Threats of beatings, physical abuse, or sexual abuse;
  • Locking in or preventing a worker from leaving the workplace or housing;
  • Threats to harm you or your family if you try to leave, complain of mistreatment, report the situation to authorities, or seek help;
  • Threats you could be deported or arrested for seeking help; or
  • Threats or harm toward other workers who have tried to leave, complain, report the situation or seek help, or threats that anyone who tries to escape will be found and brought back.

TTSI hopes you will stay because U.S. students need you, but you can leave when you wish, even if you are still under contract with TTSI.

TTSI places no restrictions on your travel, associations, or employment. We do not require you to stay in your job. (However, if you wish to change your school or school district, you must contact your J-1 program sponsor first to receive permission.)

If, for some reason, you decide to leave your employment and return home, or if you lose your job and cannot find another, TTSI will cancel the placement agreement. In both cases, you will not owe any additional placement fees to TTSI, even if you have not yet made the full payment for services. The TTSI placement agreement specifically states what happens in these circumstances.

Additionally, TTSI does not require you to stay, live, or work in a specific place. You will be completely free to live where you wish, and with whom. Many teachers choose to find their own housing arrangements that meet their personal and family needs, and they are welcome to change their living arrangements at any time as their needs change. We do not get involved in your personal lives or conditions unless you specifically contact us for assistance or advice.

Many TTSI teachers visit their home countries during vacations, and we encourage teachers to travel or get involved in their communities to learn more about cultures in the U.S. and share your own culture (which is the purpose of the J-1 Cultural Exchange program).

As noted above, we encourage teachers to seek help if they believe their rights, safety, and well-being are being threatened.

Debt

using “a debt to compel you to continue providing labor, services or commercial sex acts, or to prevent you from leaving”

Examples:

  • Imposing a debt that is difficult or impossible to pay off in a reasonable time and that is out of proportion to what you will earn;
  • Imposing a debt that you did not agree to in advance or is greater than the debt agreed to;
  • Refusing to apply your earnings toward the payment of the debt;
  • Refusing to define how long you would have to stay in the trafficker’s service to repay the debt;
  • Adding fees for transportation, housing, food, and charges to the debt that you did not agree to in advance; or
  • Adding charges, fines or penalties for breaking rules, for not earning enough, or for not performing enough labor, services or commercial sex acts.

The TTSI Placement Agreement specifies every cost that TTSI may charge for our services. When you sign the TTSI placement agreement, you know the total amount due and the minimum monthly installment amount. We do not add any additional costs beyond those specified in the agreement. 

We want you to know up-front, in advance exactly what TTSI charges, how, and when. By signing the agreement, you indicate that you accept the fees that TTSI charges.

Each payment is applied to the total fees, and you receive invoices, receipts, and statements that show exactly what has been paid. You can always calculate exactly how much you still owe and when the total payments will be completed.

The only possible “extra” fees are for (a) providing a bad check or (b) late installment payments. The Agreement you sign also describes these fees. You will never receive these fees if you make your payments according to the schedule in the Agreement.

If you return home or lose your job, we do not expect you to pay any additional amount, even if you have not yet paid the total fee for services. This also applies if you have a medical or family emergency or temporary job loss. In those cases, we may suspend all invoicing and do not expect you to pay any installment fees during that time.

The total fee for TTSI services complies with federal regulations for J-1 visa holders.

Some teachers take loans or other forms of debt in their home countries for their travel expenses. TTSI is not involved with or in any way responsible for any financial  arrangements you have made with other organizations. Those are arrangements that you make independently of your agreement with TTSI.

Rules and Controls

using “rules and controls to make it harder for you and others to leave, complain, or seek help”

Examples:

  • Rules against leaving the workplace, or strict rules about where you can go when not working;
  • Rules against keeping your own passport, visa, birth certificate, or other identification documents;
  • Denial of access to adequate food, sleep, or medical care; or
  • Preventing, restricting or monitoring communications with your family, other workers, customers, or other persons outside the workplace, such as legal or social service outreach workers.

TTSI encourages you to travel, participate in your new community, remain connected to other teachers from your home country, and keep a strong relationship with your family back home.

TTSI does not keep or withhold any of your essential documents, such as your passport, DS-2019, identification card, social security card, or teaching license. We also do not get involved in your personal lives or conditions unless you specifically contact us for assistance or advice.

If you encounter difficulties in your workplace or community, we can usually provide advice (because we are educators and administrators), but we also encourage you to seek additional help as needed, such as through the teacher union, law enforcement, immigration services, and your J-1 program sponsor.

In several cases, TTSI contacted the teacher union to assist teachers who were being treated unfairly by their districts, and we have worked with the federal Department of State to assist teachers with immigration and visa issues.

If you decide to leave your employment, first contact your J-1 visa sponsor. If you decide to leave your employment and return home, or if you lose your job and cannot find another, TTSI will cancel the placement agreement: in these two conditions, you will not owe any additional placement fees to TTSI, even if you have not yet made the full payment for services.

Deception and Lies

using “deception and lies”

Examples:

  • False promises about the type of work, working hours, working or living conditions, or pay;
  • Promising a good job and then requiring you to work significantly longer hours, under harsher conditions, or for less pay than promised;
  • Promising a good job and then making you perform another type of labor, services, or commercial sex acts;
  • Telling you that you have no rights;
  • Telling you that you will not be believed or will be deported if you try to seek help;
  • Instructing you to lie about the identity of a trafficker

Before you arrive in the U.S., you will have a letter of “intent to hire” from a school or school district. That letter will specify the job you are offered and job location. J-1 program sponsors monitor to make sure that you receive the job you were offered.

Your employment contract with the school or school district describes the job functions and salary.

As a J-1 visa holder, you must be paid at the same rate as other teachers in comparable positions according to the approved salary structure. Your actual salary may be determined by your years of experience, education and training, and license level, but the school district must use the same process to determine your pay that it uses for all other teachers.

You have rights, not only as a J-1 program participant, a resident in the U.S., and a teacher, but also as a human. Many of those rights are described at the top of this page. Overall, TTSI wants you to be successful in your U.S. teaching position. We will adhere to the terms of the Placement Agreement, as should you if you decide to acquire our services.

We adhere to the federal regulations regarding the J-1 program, and you will also be required to adhere to those same regulations. These regulations include the requirement that you return home at the end of the J-1 program (the J-1 program is not a pathway to an H-1B visa, “green card” for permanent residency, or citizenship). We encourage you to learn about the J-1 cultural exchange program before deciding to become a J-1 participant and before signing the TTSI placement agreement.