SIOUX CITY -- Western Iowa Tech Community College has announced in a statement that its J-1 Visitor Program has been terminated due to worries about the COVID-19 virus.
The Sioux City college works with the U.S. Department of State in its operation of the student visa program, and recent recommendations from the department in response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak apparently prompted WITCC to end the program.
According to the statement, "Given the global outbreak of COVID-19, institutes of higher education have been advised to cancel student international travel programs and suggest students currently enrolled in exchange programs return to their home country."
"Therefore, it is with a deep sense of sadness WITCC will be ending the J1 Visitor program," the statement continued.
The J-1 visa program was troubled back in January by allegations that a group of 57 international students in the program had been subject to human rights abuses including forced labor, wage theft and debt bondage while working at factory jobs designated as internships while attending WITCC.
"The college is working with the students to arrange transportation and flights to their home countries over the following week," WITCC's statement said.
WITCC announced last week that its spring break would be extended through March 22 and that many of its classes would begin moving online. Most colleges in the area made similar announcements last week.