The June 22 Presidential Proclamation, while it spared Optional Practical Training--at least for now, has serious ramification for international education. Below is a sample message that NAFSA Region III's Advocacy Representative sent to her Congressional delegation to educate them on these impacts. All are encouraged to customize this and send to their delegation as well--regardless of region.
To whom it may concern,
On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued the Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak. The Proclamation suspends the entry of certain H, J, and L nonimmigrants until December 31, 2020, with the possibilities of extensions and/or revisions. Unfortunately, institutions of higher education from all over the country employ H-1B visa holders whom perform jobs that require specialized knowledge. Additionally, these intuitions also provide opportunities to J-1 Exchange Visitors to promote mutual educational and cultural exchange. As a constituent, I please ask you to consider the benefits of sustaining these programs and share them with the Trump Administration.
In 2019, The U.S. Department of State issued 619,305 visas to qualifying individuals of the H visa programs. It is evident that H-1B employees bring talent to the U.S., diversify our U.S. companies, provide cultural education and exchange, contribute economically, and are global ambassadors for the U.S. to the rest of the world. They provide our institutions a critical tool for filling positions, which are difficult to fill from the U.S. labor market, and are already subject to extensive regulations designed to protect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers. The lengthy application process, costly filing fees, and increased restrictions concerning job changes make it much more convenient to hire a U.S. worker whenever possible. However, when the U.S. labor market cannot provide qualified candidates for positions, the H-1B is an indispensable tool to fill positions which otherwise would remain vacant, limiting our ability to provide all sorts of services to our community.
According to the U.S. Department of State (DOS), the J-1 Exchange Visitor program provides opportunities to around 300,000 foreign visitors from 200 countries and territories. In 2018, Texas had about 6,000 J-1 exchange visitors in 10 of the 15 programs available through DOS. Although the proclamation, at present, does not include J-1 professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, college or university students, or ECFMG alien physicians, we are concerned that the proclamation could eventually grow to include these individuals. The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) J-1 alien physicians are especially at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic and are helping to save our fellow Americans with research, treatment, and care. Overall, J-1 exchange visitors are improving the quality of health care for the public and the world, at a time when we need it most. In addition, J-1 Exchange Visitors provide the United States the ability to stay engaged with the rest of the world while promoting diplomacy.
We are concerned that the Presidential Proclamation suspending these essential programs are unnecessarily broad, doing little to protect U.S. workers, while significantly impeding our ability to provide the best services to our communities and the world. As a professional in international education, I ask that you communicate this plea to the Trump Administration and the Congress to maintain these programs throughout the pandemic and thereafter.
If you would like more information on the benefits of these programs, please do not hesitate to contact me. I appreciate your wiliness to be the voice of your constituents in Congress.