This week, Congressman John Curtis (UT-03) and Representatives Chris Pappas (NH-01), Blake Moore (UT-01), and Annie Kuster (NH-02) led a bipartisan call demanding the Department of State take action to address J-1 Visa processing delays ahead of the summer. These visas sponsor students from around the world to participate in exchange programs and support tourist economies. Participation in the program declined due to the pandemic and now suffers from severe processing delays.
“Utah’s culture and scenery have long drawn students, teachers, and more from across the world to work and play in our state,” said Rep. Curtis. “Not only do BridgeUSA participants fill important roles and facilitate cultural exchanges within the US, they take home valuable experiences and friendships that enhance international relationships and cooperation. I am hopeful that we can soon welcome J-1 visa holders back to Utah and continue this vital international partnership.”
In the letter, the lawmakers wrote: “We request that the Department immediately ensures a timely and sufficient process for the J-1 Visa BridgeUSA program participants… The SWT and Camp Counselor programs are at a critical juncture for the summer 2022 season. We are concerned that the present restrictions and visa processing delays will prevent participants from visiting the U.S. this summer. These experiences may leave young people around the world with the impression that the United States is an unwelcoming place and leave U.S. employers unable to meet their seasonal workforce needs. We urge the Department of State to consider the cultural and economic importance of these programs and prioritize reopening consular facilities to process visa applications for BridgeUSA applicants as well as other visitors to the United States.”
The letter urges the Department of State to consider the economic implications of these delays and calls for additional action to be taken to expedite the visa processing.