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Exchange Students Working in Midland Claim Company Leaves Them Hungry, With Little Money

By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - A group of students from Peru came to West Texas to work. Their experience isn't anything like they imagined. That's because they claim the money they earn to pay rent wasn't used for its purpose and they barely have money to eat.

Regal Hospitality Solutions is the company who gets students from countries all over the world and gives them work permits to come to the U.S. to gain a work and cultural experience.

As one of the students tells NewsWest 9, the experience is nothing short of a nightmare.

Andrea Pachas is part of a group of students from Peru. They've come to West Texas on a work visa for three months through the company Regal Hospitality Solutions.

"They told me that my English was gonna get better, that I'd have a great cultural and work experience, get to know people, even travel. They told me all sorts of things and it's wonderful to think that you'd be making all this money, but when you get here, the reality is much different," Pachas said.

She says she lives in a two bedroom home with seven other group members. Per month, they pay $300 and receive about $400 a month for their work.

Regal Hospitality Solutions says each student signs a contract that's approved by the State Department prior to them coming to the U.S. It includes a layout of how much they will pay for rent, how much they'll receive per hour for their job and a list of their job duties. The company says each student pays a flat rate of $75 a week which includes utilities and rent, which is deducted out of their paychecks.

Last month, Andrea's home received a notice saying rent was unpaid.

"It really bothered my roommates, because they told me, 'What did they do with the money that they stole from us?" Pachas said.

Andrea is unsure as to why charges are going up. What she does know is that each student is left with little to no money.

"They took out $50, then $50 extra dollars, the $300 for housing and it just left us without money," Pachas said.

The students also received a different notice to vacate back in December also for nonpayment of rent.

"After they took the money out of our paychecks, two days later, we got an eviction notice, a letter saying that you need to vacate because you didn't pay," Pachas said.

Which leaves the big question for the students: where did their rent money already deducted from their paychecks go?

Sam Makaran, Director of Operations for Regal Hospitality Solutions, says the company is on a short leash with the State Department.

"The State Department is very strict with us so we go with the book, go with the laws," Makaran said.

They say all housing is in compliance and if students have problems, they have a sponsor in the United States that can help them.

A Deacon from Genesis Baptist Church of Midland, who is close with some group members, says the students are seeking any help they can get.

NewsWest 9 also asked Regal Hospitality Solutions representatives whether they've received complaints from this student unit before and they said this was the first they've heard about it.

Andrea's group heads back to Peru on March 21.

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