Major changes may soon be coming for an exchange visa program where hundreds of thousands of young, foreign nationals can enter the U.S. for a variety of jobs.
As part of President Trump’s Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, the administration is conducting a review of multiple visa programs it sees as potentially harming American workers.
In a Wall Street Journal report, sources close to the administration’s visa review revealed that the J-1 visa, which brings up to 300,000 foreign youths to the U.S. every year, could see major changes in the coming months:
People familiar with the conversations said the review includes the summer work-travel program, which brings more than 100,000 students to the U.S. each summer, often stationed in tourist destinations such as beach resorts and national parks. It also includes the smaller au pair program, through which foreigners live in American homes and provide child care as well as take classes and participate in intercultural exchanges with their host families. Other programs under discussion include those for camp counselors, interns and trainees.
The J-1 visa program also includes 10 other categories that don’t involve work, such as those for college students, which aren’t under review, people familiar with the talks said.
The visa was instituted by statute, but the individual categories were created by past administrations and could be changed or eliminated by executive action. Some changes might need to go through the regulatory process, which provides an opportunity for public comment.
The administration is looking at either ending the J-1 visa program altogether or tightening the rules for the program in order to ensure that U.S. workers are not replaced in the process. In 2013 alone, nearly 216,000 were brought to the U.S. to fill American jobs on the visa program, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as well as some Democrats, were critical of the J-1 visa for being a pipeline for cheap labor.
When Trump first introduced his legal immigration overhaul plan in 2015, he called for the end to the J-1 visa, replacing it with a jobs program for America’s inner-city youth, as Breitbart News reported.
“The J-1 visa jobs program for foreign youth will be terminated and replaced with a resume bank for inner city youth provided to all corporate subscribers to the J-1 visa program,” Trump wrote in his immigration plan.
Back in 2013, NPR reported extensively on the abuses by corporations of the J-1 visa, where a family that owned a McDonald’s allegedly brought foreign youth to the U.S. on the visa and forced them to reside in unlivable conditions while deducting high prices for rent from their paychecks.
A group of Senators, including Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), sent a letter to the State Department demanding the J-1 visa remain in place.
The potential changes to the J-1 program come just as the Trump Administration strengthened vetting procedures for all foreign nationals trying to come to the U.S. on various visa programs, as Breitbart Texas reported.
The vetting procedures conducted by the State Department were strengthened to weed out not only radicalized individuals, but also foreigners with no documented intentions on departing.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.