February 10, 2017
Dear Cultural Exchange Community,
The USA is definitely in a period of self-assessment about our immigration and visa policies. While the immigration issue is complex and multifaceted, Americans largely agree that international cultural exchange is positive for our country and the world. The J-1 Visa is an important part of that cultural exchange system. The J-1 Visa is not an immigrant visa but rather a cultural exchange visa providing various opportunities to work, intern, study, travel, or teach while exchanging cultures and ideas with Americans. As a J-1 Work/Travel, Internship and Trainee Program sponsor, Spirit provides an opportunity for future leaders from around the world to learn about our culture and values. We encourage young people to experience the United States in a way that is educational for them and productive for the USA. These young people experience the USA up close, develop a strong understanding of our culture and values, and return to their home countries to profess an honest, positive view of our country. In fact, in a recent industry-wide survey of J-1 Work/Travel participants, 90% of participants reported having a positive experience with Americans and the American workplace.
Some of our host employers, international agents, and program participants have expressed concern that recent Presidential Executive Orders might affect the Spirit J-1 programs. What I can tell you is that Spirit has received no information that would suggest an imminent change to program regulations. The J-1 Work/Travel regulations have been strengthened over the last several years and the result is a stronger program that better serves and protects our program participants. Spirit expects that those regulations will continue to evolve to meet changing conditions and program needs. When appropriate, Spirit actively provides feedback to the Department of State regarding proposed regulations.
What is most important now is that we do our jobs well. The J-1 Program will continue to thrive if we live up to the ideals of the program and deliver a high quality cultural exchange experience to our participants, which will enhance their lives as well as the communities they visit.
Spirit is excited for the coming year and looks forward to welcoming our participants to the USA!
Spirit Cultural Exchange