Help Still Wanted: Cuts to Visa Program Could Hurt the Shore

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They come from all over the world, some just for the summer and others for a semester or two. 

But new legislation from the White House could leave these employees out of work and local businesses short of help.

President Donald Trump is considering cutting back on visas for U.S. cultural work exchange programs, including summer employees and au pairs that work in popular destinations like the Jersey Shore. 

The J-1 visa program currently provides “opportunities for around 300,000 foreign visitors per year to experience U.S. society and culture,” according to the Department of State.

At the Jersey Shore, Catalin Iova from Romania has spent his summer working as a games supervisor at Morey’s Piers in Wildwood, New Jersey. He said the experience “is one of a lifetime.”

Iova is just one of 1,500 seasonal workers at Morey’s, one-third of which come from other countries. Managers worry that a cut to the J-1 program could impact their ability to keep staff levels up during the high season.

“It would have a devastating impact on our business and tourism communities around the country,” said Morey’s Piers employee Denise Beckson.

About 100,000 foreign students flock to the U.S. each summer. More than 5,000 take up residence in New Jersey alone under the summer work-travel program.

“I think it would result in a shortening of our operating season [and] a shortening of our daily operations,” Beckson said.

“It’s a really serious issue,” added Morey’s owner Will Morey.

A state department official said in an email that the agency is “aware of the support that American businesses have shown for the program and its value to their local communities.”

More than 80 percent of Americans who apply for jobs at Morey’s are hired, according to a spokesperson. But even with those numbers, a popular destination like Morey’s needs more employees to remain fully operational.

“We have open positions all summer this year,” Beckson said.

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