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Thursday, June 20th, 2024

Reps. Moore, Kuster reintroduce resolution backing J-1 visas through BridgeUSA

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In support of the American tourism industry, cultural diversity and workforce needs, U.S. Reps. Blake Moore (R-UT) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) reintroduced a resolution expressing support for BridgeUSA programs.

As a resolution, it’s a nonbinding effort, but rather, is meant to express Congress’s opinion that these programs – formerly known as the Exchange Visitor J-1 Visa Program – are vital to the national interest. It also urged ongoing support from the State Department, prioritization of affiliated visas at U.S. embassies and more.

“Communities across Utah take advantage of the BridgeUSA programs with great success, and they deserve Congress’s full support,” Moore said. “These work and study exchange programs have opened up amazing opportunities and experiences in America for hundreds of thousands of foreigners while also supplementing our workforce and supporting our businesses. States like Utah that rely on a seasonal workforce to fuel local tourism need programs like these to ensure economic growth, and I am thrilled to once again leads this Resolution with my colleague Representative Kuster.”

Annually, around 300,000 participants from more than 200 countries and territories visit the United States through a J-1 cultural exchange visa. According to Mark Overmann, executive director of the Alliance for International Exchange, the program helps contribute more than $1.2 billion to the U.S. economy each year, on top of the personal relationships it cultivates.

“The work-and study-based exchange visa program attracts foreign visitors, students and workers to our state and strengthens cultural understanding,” Kuster said. “We must invest in the BridgeUSA program to bolster our economy and enrich our communities for years to come. I am proud to join with my colleagues from across the aisle to ensure that is the case.”

BridgeUSA programs were originally created in the same time and mindset at the Peace Corp and U.S. Agency for International Development. Under its umbrella, international students and others are able to travel to the United States to study, teach, build professional networks, improve their English language skills and more.