Trump Administration May Revise J-1 Cultural Exchange

August 31, 2017 Britni Sehgal

The Trump administration has discussed plans to reduce the J-1 Cultural Exchange visitor program that allows young people to work in the U.S., including au pairs and summer workers, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Specifically, a group led by the administration is discussing reductions to five programs that are a part of the J-1 Cultural Exchange visa, according to the WSJ. That includes summer work-travel – which helps young foreign workers fill positions in tourist areas around the U.S. during the summer months – the au pair program – which helps place young foreign workers in homes with American families in need of childcare – internships, camp counselors, and trainees.

The executive order issued by President Trump in April to “Buy American and Hire American” did include language that called for the revision of existing immigration programs. The recent reports call into question whether immigration changes will this be made without discussing them on a national scale.

The programs that fall under the J-1 visa category are largely open to informal processes when changes are made since they were created by previous administrations. That leaves J-1 cultural exchange programs open to changes without public comment, although a complete elimination of the program itself would need Congressional involvement.

The ideas the administration-led group has discussed include getting rid of the J-1 programs altogether or making requirements more strict for employers in the U.S. looking to hire international workers. According to Tuesday’s WSJ article, a directive was sent to the State Department to change the language of the J-1 programs to essentially eliminate them, though it’s unknown whether this was intended to spark discussion or immediate action.

Employers and lawmakers who support the J-1 visa programs are in favor of its benefits: filling in in-demand jobs in the U.S. and the cultural experience young people take back with them to their home country. Those in opposition of J-1 exchange programs argue that, rather than cultural exchange programs, J-1 visas are often used as sources of inexpensive labor for large companies.

We’ll continue to keep you apprised of any new updates.

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