The Collective Public Policy Voice of the Exchange Community

By Mark Overmann

Representatives Blake Moore (R-UT) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) reintroduced a House Resolution yesterday supporting Department of State BridgeUSA exchange programs. Supported by more than 400 organizations, associations, and businesses, the resolution recognizes international exchange as an invaluable public diplomacy tool, as well as a way to strengthen American business and our economy. 

The Alliance is so grateful to Reps. Moore and Kuster, as well as original co-sponsor Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH), for their strong support of Department of State international exchange programs. BridgeUSA exchanges are an undeniable win-win for the U.S., which is why they continue to have broad bipartisan support. 

“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,” Rep. Moore said in a statement announcing the introduction of the resolution. 

BridgeUSA programs bolster our national security and foreign policy by creating lasting relationships with students and young leaders from around the world. “The work-and study-based exchange visa program attracts foreign visitors, students, and workers to our state and strengthens cultural understanding,” said Rep. Kuster. Throughout their programs, participants develop a more positive view of the U.S. and maintain friendships with Americans for years to come. Their connection with the U.S. persists as they become leaders in their home countries, supporting U.S. diplomatic efforts worldwide. There’s no doubt that the relationships and improved impressions that participants develop strengthen our national security. 

BridgeUSA programs pack a powerful punch when it comes to economic value, contributing more than $1.2 billion to the U.S. economy each year. These programs support American businesses, camps, universities, and families. A majority of host companies and camps report that their businesses would be negatively impacted without access to BridgeUSA programs. 

 “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,” said Rep. Kuster. 

Rep. Moore added, “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 lead this Resolution with my colleague Representative Kuster.” 

Each year, approximately 300,000 international students and young people from 200 countries and territories travel to the U.S. to participate in BridgeUSA exchange programs. Originally created alongside Peace Corps and U.S. Agency for International Development during the Cold War, these programs continue to serve the diplomatic mission they were first intended to promote – to increase mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries.