The J-1 visa provides individuals from around the world the opportunity to take part in a cultural work and study exchange. This program is beneficial to participants as it allows them to develop their professional skills and connections, improve their English language skills, and be fully emerged in a new culture. However, the benefit of the J-1 visa program is not just one sided, it also provides individuals inside the US with a host of benefits from added expertise in various fields, exposing and connecting individuals to other cultures, and perhaps the most relevant during this time of year: help with seasonal and temporary jobs through summer work travel programs.
Businesses in various locations in the United States are reporting not having as many J-1 visa workers as in years past for summer temporary work and in turn not able to fill many positions. It’s a problem that reared its head last summer in locations like the Wisconsin Dells, Cedar Point in Ohio, and Glacier National Park, and is back again this year in many locations like Hampton Beach, NH. The owner of Bernie’s Beach Bar, the Goat and Wally’s Pub, Al Fleury, said he applied for 75 J-1 visa students and received only 20. Hampton Beach State Park officials also stated they have seen the number of J-1 visa students drop from an average of 10 to 20 in previous years to only five this year, according to seacoastonline.
Beaches and pools throughout the US are also having a difficult time finding people to fill the 150,000 lifeguard jobs, and companies that typically hire J-1 visa participants have reported their J-1 visa scouts not as successful at filling spots as in years past, according to accuweather. New attempts to fill lifeguard positions include adding flexible hours and higher wages, lowering the minimum age to apply, and trying to recruit retirees that were previously lifeguards.
Despite some businesses seeing a drop in J-1 participant staff, Phil Simon, vice president of CIEE Work and Travel USA, which sponsors J-1 visa students coming to the US, said there is no evidence of a change in visa approval rates this year compared to last year, according to seacoastonline.
Many suggest the “drop” in the J-1 summer work and travel program participants is simply a shift of state or job interest and certain states and positions may feel a hit more than others.
The J-1 visa program allows about 300,000 foreign visitors from 200 countries to participate each year. View the most recent information on the number of J-1 visa participants by state and program.