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The New Jersey Business Coalition this week issued a letter to New Jersey’s congressional delegation urging an expansion of the J1 visa program amid a sharp decline in the work travel visas over the past two summers.

“In 2021, the lack of available visa holders exacerbated the workforce shortage businesses across industries continue to face,” the NJBC wrote. “In the tourism sector, many businesses were forced to limit their hours of operation and business offerings or close entirely due to lack of staffing.”

The coalition also noted that New Jersey educational institutions suffered from a lack of J1 visa recipients. In 2020, only 420 students and scholars received J1 visas in New Jersey as opposed to 1,623 in 2019. Five professors received J1 visas in the state, down from 22 recipients in 2019.

“As colleges and universities in our state continue to face significant financial strains as a result of the pandemic, increasing the number of student visa recipients in New Jersey will bolster university revenues through enrollment,” the coalition wrote. “Student, scholar and professor visas also allow for increased diversity of thought and perspectives in the classroom, enhancing the educational experience and creating a stronger, more culturally aware workforce.”

The letter was signed by 90 leading business and nonprofit groups.

To view the full letter, click here.