As the United States prepares for a change in administration, we know that CIEE’s Exchange Visitors and their hosts in the U.S. may have questions about the future of J-1 visa programs. This statement serves to address those questions and frame expectations for the future.
First, all stakeholders should know that absolutely no changes have been made to J-1 visa programs. Any current or prospective J-1 Exchange Visitors should know that they continue to be welcomed in and to the United States. Current participants should expect to complete their exchange program according to a previously planned schedule and prospective participants should expect to pursue a future program according to standard timelines.
Second, international exchange has a long history of deep bipartisan support in Congress – from both the Democratic and Republican parties. Outside of the U.S. government, international exchange has countless stakeholders around the world – from employers, to schools, to host families and host communities, to sending countries and governments.
Third, CIEE has great confidence in the democratic process that would shape and deliver any policy changes that could come with a new administration. Policy changes require vigorous and thorough analysis and debate, and typically involve both the executive and legislative branches in a lengthy process. Additionally, the voice and will of the people – everyday Americans – are considered when governmental policy and programmatic change is developed or reviewed. As the largest U.S. State Department-designated sponsor of J-1 visas, CIEE has excellent working relationships with career civil service, professional, and political staff across the Executive Branch and Congress. You can be sure that we will have a seat at the table should any change to J-1 programs be considered.
Fourth, J-1 visa programs are tools for the advancement of U.S. national security and cultural exchange, not pathways for immigration or labor programs. J-1 visa programs are administered by the U.S. Department of State – a cabinet-level national security and foreign affairs agency of the federal government – and not the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Labor. By building mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and people of other nations, we are all stronger, safer, and more prosperous.
Fifth, and importantly, there is a great and longstanding tradition of tolerance across America. This is a country that celebrates diversity, freedom, multiculturalism, and plurality. CIEE has a long history of bringing together people from different backgrounds to support harmonious relations between all people from all nations.
International exchange is an enduring American institution and CIEE is committed to protecting and advancing its long and strong legacy. We look forward sharing the American experience with many future participants on our programs in the years to come.