|Dear Travel Colleague:
You may be aware of a proposal in Washington to eliminate certain J-1 cultural and work exchange visa programs. This action would be a mistake, with the potential to negatively impact travel destinations and businesses across the country.
Because we know many of you care about this program, and its implications for your workforce, I would like to provide a brief update on our activities surrounding this important issue.
J-1 Visa Program Background
These programs provide desperately needed seasonal work to travel and tourism businesses, who have challenges filling these positions with local workers. For example: winter at ski resorts and summer at national parks are like the holiday season for retailers. Demand spikes, and they need more help than usual. However, unlike retailers, ski resorts and national parks and even some major attractions and other resort properties often have a limited pool of local talent from which to draw. Americans in the communities where these operations are based need full-time, year-round work.
We can support efforts by the Trump administration to protect and expand American jobs, but a move to end the J-1 cultural and work exchange visa programs will have the opposite effect. Travel and tourism businesses, including attractions, parks and hotels will suffer, because they will not be able to serve as many visitors without access to these staffing resources.
U.S. Travel is joining the Americans for Cultural Exchange coalition. Together, we are taking a series of actions to defend and support the J-1 visa program:
· Engaging the U.S. House of Representatives on a resolution in support of the J-1 visa program;
· Activating a lobbying effort to educate members of both the House and Senate on the value of the J-1 visa program;
· Developing a coalition letter to key administration officials that demonstrates broad support for the J-1 visa program;
· Organizing local travel leaders to engage Congress; and
· Meeting directly with White House and key agency officials.
Our efforts have already begun to deliver results. Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted legislative language that would require the Trump administration to seek stakeholder feedback before moving forward with plans to end J-1 visas. This proposal sends a clear message to the White House on the extensive support in the Senate for this critical program.
Please know that this issue has our attention, and we will continue to take the needed steps to protect the J-1 visa program.
Vice President, Public Affairs
U.S. Travel Association