The COVID-19 outbreak continues to adversely influence the ability of embassies and consulates around the world to be able to resume routine visa services.
The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), a non-profit organization promoting international education and exchange, says capacity confines at US embassies abroad could limit the number of J-1 visas given out this year. Rehoboth Beach businesses are concerned that the workforce they rely on in the summer season won’t return to the US.
J-1 student significant at the end of the summer
Rehoboth Beach’s business continues to bolster as more people get the confidence to travel and be in public contexts. In contrast, many businesses report only a few Americans are applying to fill their job openings.
Funland has been hiring J-1 students for over 20 years. They usually hire about 30 students, but they had none in 2020, says Personnel Manager Chris Darr.
Darr added, it is a cultural program. The students can come and experience the United States for four months. They can work. They can earn some money, travel, but presently, we’re looking for American employees. More hiring signs adorn the storefronts on Rehoboth Avenue.
Glenn Byrum, Grotto Pizza Director of Human Resources, says that we project that people have been trapped for a year or so now and that they’re ready to come out.
Each summer, Grotto Pizza hires up to 100 J-1 students to staff its locations along the coast, and that hiring for 2021 is a nightmare, says Byrum.
Byrum added that we expect it to be as busy as 2019 or maybe even a little busier.
Both Funland and Grotto Pizza state the J-1 students are very significant at the end of the summer season when American students go back to school. These businesses say they’ll hire them no matter how late in the summer they arrive.
Average enrollment for this year
Phil Simon, CIEE Vice President of Professional Exchange Programs, stated a couple of days ago, the Biden administration got rid of a proclamation that the former administration put in, which barred people from travelling on the J-1 visa.
The program operated at about 5% of its average enrollment in 2020 and, that 2021 enrollment will be extremely low, at least at first.
Simon also added that students start to come next month in May, and the participation in May will be surprisingly low and, positively, we see an uptick in June. Still, data do not support us seeing a lot of students here this summer.
Most US embassies have been backlogged and closed for a long time, and they have a list of priorities that they are working through, says Simon.
Simon added that a travel date and travel requirements like vaccines, testing, and quarantining are still unclear.
Even though US consulates are no longer prohibited from issuing immigrant visas solely based on classification, consular operations worldwide remain limited due to COVID-19 public health measures.