IAAPA Joins U.S. Businesses to Urge President Biden to Address J-1 Visa Concerns
On April 5, 2021, IAAPA joined nearly 1,200 American businesses, U.S. Department of State designated program sponsors, US Travel, and many other trade associations, in urging President Biden to help prevent serious hiring shortage for the industry by addressing the concerns about the J-1 Visa program. The letter addressed two key issues:
- Adding J-1 cultural exchange applicants to the Department of State’s national interest priorities.
- Waiving the personal appearance requirement for returning participants from program years 2019 and 2020 applying in the same category (an option already available for F-1 and several other visa categories).
In March, President Biden allowed Presidential Proclamation 10052 to expire, which had paused the issuance of J-1 student work and travel (SWT) visas. However, very few visas have been issued due to the immense visa backlog, limited consular resources, and prioritization of immigrant visas. If participants cannot secure visas and travel, it will have a detrimental effect for the attractions industry and other seasonal businesses.
Eighty-nine percent of Summer Work Travel exchange visitors work in tourism-related businesses, and many IAAPA members rely on this program to supplement hiring during the shoulder season and busy peak travel times. The Summer Work Travel (SWT) Programs also helps to diversify the industry workforce, reflecting the diversity of travelers in the U.S. SWT students fill positions that otherwise cannot be filled. Failing to address these issues will significantly hurt businesses that depend on these programs and will leave many companies unable to prepare for the summer season adequately and safely. If tourism communities are to rebound this year, they will need to full-time, year-round, and seasonal employees.
The full letter to President Biden can be viewed on IAAPA’s website here.
To stay up to day with IAAPA’s advocacy efforts in support of the J-1 Visa Summer Work Travel Program and other critical issues facing the U.S. attractions industry, visit the IAAPA North America Public Affairs page or email [email protected].