Politics

Rep. Blake Moore introduces bill in D.C. supporting J-1 visas

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday Representatives Blake Moore (R-UT) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) introduced a resolution in the U.S. House expressing congressional support for BridgeUSA programs, formerly the Exchange Visitor J-1 Visa Program.

“Across the nation, and in states like Utah and New Hampshire, participants in these programs fill vital workforce needs, strengthen America’s tourism industry and cultural diversity, and advance our important diplomatic efforts domestically and abroad,” a press release said.

Approximately 300,000 participants from over 200 counties and territories visit the United States on a J-1 cultural exchange visa each year.

However, at the beginning of the pandemic, nonimmigrant visas were “virtually halted” in the U.S.

Nonimmigrant visas dropped sharply at the beginning of the pandemic.
Nonimmigrant visas dropped sharply at the beginning of the pandemic. (Cato Institute)

“I am proud to introduce this resolution reaffirming Congress’ bipartisan support of the BridgeUSA programs,” said Representative Blake Moore.

“As I have traveled across Utah’s First Congressional District, the message I have heard from community and business leaders alike is that these programs simply work. Not only do they deepen ties between our communities and our allies abroad, but they allow our employers to fill important vacancies and address the challenging workforce shortages that exist here in Utah and across the nation.”

The BridgeUSA programs were developed during the Cold War by the Peace Corps and U.S. Agency for International Development to promote diplomatic and foreign affairs goals. The programs today make travel to the United States possible for a broad and diverse group of international students and young people.

The resolution has received support from the National Ski Areas Association, the Utah Tourism Industry Association, Ski Utah, the Park City Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Utah.

“Small businesses here in New Hampshire and across the country rely on the BridgeUSA program — a work-and study-based exchange visitor program — to staff their operations and serve their communities,” said Rep. Annie Kuster.

“It is essential Congress does its part to strengthen this program and ensure American businesses have the workforce they need, especially in regions like the North Country where visiting workers fill critical vacancies during the busy tourism season. I was proud to help introduce this House Resolution today in support of BridgeUSA programs and the important role they play in our national and local economies.”

Read the full resolution

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