The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges for international exchange programs due to their heavy dependence on travel and people-to-people interactions. An estimated 6500 jobs and $303M were lost by these employers and others in related fields last year due to the pandemic. Overall, the BridgeUSA exchange community experienced $1.23 billion in financial fallout in 2020.
Unfortunately, international exchange programs are still stymied by travel and other restrictions. The Administration’s current approach of not issuing most J-1 visas in countries where there are travel bans, as well as its decision not to prioritize these BridgeUSA programs for visa processing in countries without such a ban, will likely mean that program sponsors will go through another year without much income. That would be devastating to exchange employers and to the cultural exchange programs they run, which would in turn hurt the United States’ national security for years to come.
Learn more about the Alliance’s advocacy efforts in this space on our COVID-19 Restrictions website page.