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Boreal Community Media

J1 Visa program threatened, H2B Visa presentation Sept. 7

Sep 03, 2017 08:43AM ● By Editor
From Staff Report - The Cook County News Herald - Sept. 1, 2017

Cook County employers have been stunned to learn that the White House is threatening to eliminate the majority of privately funded J1 Exchange Visitors Programs.

Locally foreign students holding J1 visas make up much of the summer workforce in Cook County. With more than 80 percent of the county’s economy tourist based, and with Cook County’s unemployment rate at two percent, these workers are vital to keeping businesses open and running smoothly. 

Nationally J1 workers enrolled in the summer work travel program contribute more than $500 million to economy through travel, housing, and entertainment. According to the Alliance for International Exchange, a group dedicated to promoting growth and impact of exchange programs, one quarter of surveyed employers indicated that without the presence of J1 students who complement their workforce, they would not be able to operate at capacity during their peak season. That number of businesses might be higher in Cook County.

This news falls on the heels of a shortage in the H2B visa program. This is a program that allows employers to hire foreign workers for up to a year, and with extensions, up to three years. Again, these foreign workers fill important roles in Cook County that can’t be filled by local workers.

Loan Huynh, an immigration attorney with Fredrikson & Byron in Minneapolis, will be presenting information on the H2B program at a Chamber-sponsored workshop from 1-3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7, at Cook County Higher Ed. 

Cost of the workshop is $20, payable at the door. Registration is required, and you may register by emailing [email protected] or calling 218-387-2466. 

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