Rumors have been circulating that the U.S. State Department is looking at eliminating the J-1 Summer Work Travel program. The program enables foreign young people to work in the U.S. for mainly summer months.
Called the J-1 Visa Program, the potential loss of the program has given people owning tourism-related businesses an alarm.
Eagle River Chamber of Commerce Director Kim Emerson says loss of the program will affect this region...
"..I think it will impact our local businesses. Many are using J-1 Visa people who are working in their facilities. Without those workers their going to have a hard time. We already have a labor shortage going on and if we lose that source of labor, it will affect the businesses greatly...."
Emerson says the program usually brings in college students from foreign countries where they work in the labor-strapped Northwoods tourism industries...
"....they're usually college students from foreign countries that come in and they help us working in restaurants, lodging establishments, cleaning. There are grocery stores that use their help...."
In Wisconsin, more than 10,000 J-1 participants came to Wisconsin last year. The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program provides opportunities for around 300,000 foreign visitors from 200 countries and territories per year to experience U.S. society and culture and engage with Americans.
The Trump Administration says the program undercuts American workers.