June 25, 2021


Skillful education crafters

J-1 exchange students coming this summer, but the need for them varies | Local News

2 min read

J1 Visa Moreys Boardwalk

J-1 student workers in Wildwood, summer 2018.

The StormReady program by the National Weather Services recognizes those who are armed with the communication skills needed to relay weather hazards, saving lives and property. Cape May County became the first in New Jersey to be a part of the program. Meteorologist Joe Martucci is at the county’s Office of Emergency Management Headquarters to speak with two people who made the recognition happen.

Every year, Cape May County hosts between 2,500 and 3,000 J-1 visa students from overseas for its Summer Work Travel Program.

The program, through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is small but critical for the county as there are never enough local people to fill all seasonal positions, according to Vicki Clark, president of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce.

Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the county only saw about 100 of those students because of halts to visa programs. The students who did come stateside had already secured visas before the pandemic hit.

Clark said in summer 2020, most seasonal employers were understaffed, even at reduced capacities.

“A good number of them had as many as 50{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of their positions unfilled,” she said.

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But even though the exchange program workforce is coming back, a few hurdles have arisen, which are ever changing, Clark said.

Currently, there is a delay with the students getting their visa appointments.

The student must have a job offer from an employer stateside and then apply for a visa. One of the barriers that was in place, which expired in March, was the proclamation under the Trump administration that blocked a variety of work visas.