Facts and Resources: Potential Elimination of J-1 Exchange Visitor Programs

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The Trump administration is seeking to end the U.S. Department of State’s J-1 Exchange Visitor programs. These privately funded cultural exchange programs are an important U.S. foreign policy tool that helps to build greater understanding of the American people and culture around the world. They are not pathways for immigration or labor programs.

At CIEE we believe that by building mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and people of other nations, we are all stronger, safer, and more prosperous.

According to a new report focused on the J-1 Summer Work Travel (SWT) program:

  • Three-fourths (76.1%) of SWT participants reported a positive change in their views of the U.S., American culture, and the American people after having participated in the program.
  • Nearly all (90.9%) of participants agreed they had a better understanding of American culture following the program.

In addition to harming U.S. public diplomacy efforts, eliminating J-1 programs would cause significant harm to the American economy. According to the same report:

  • SWT exchange visitor participants contributed an estimated $509 million to the U.S. economy in 2016. 
  • Half (50.8%) of surveyed employers stated that the absence of SWT participants would have a big negative impact on their revenues.
  • Roughly half (44.8%) of employers said it was likely or very likely they would have to reduce hours of operation and one-quarter (27.6%) reported it was likely or very likely they would not be able to stay open during the season without the SWT program.

Read the full report. Then, take action!


  • Call your representatives in Washington, D.C., and urge them to contact the White House to stop the elimination of these programs. Find phone numbers for your Members of Congress and use these talking points to make these incredibly important calls. Please encourage your family, friends, and colleagues to do the same.
  • Ask your CEO or senior leaders at your workplace to call their personal contacts at the White House, Department of State, and Congress, or the general contacts below:

            White House, Office of Public Liaison: (202) 456-6493
            Department of State, Office of Secretary Tillerson: (202) 647-7234

  • Join Americans for Cultural Exchange – a broad coalition in support of international exchange programs – and urge your representatives to take action.


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