OCEAN CITY, NJ - Thousands of international students who work at businesses in shore towns as part of the J-1 visa program could soon lose those privileges.
Margarita Savranskaya is a 21-year-old college student from the Ukraine and said she’s been busy working in Ocean City all summer long. She works at Jilly’s T Shirt Factory on the boardwalk and at another business a few blocks down. “I work here from 9:00am until 3:00pm and then from 4:00pm until midnight at Steels Fudge. I come for three months here and I leave in September.”
But for students like Margarita this fairytale summer in the United States could be ending.
President trump campaigned on eliminating the J-1 visa program which currently admits more than 100,000 students into the us to work seasonal jobs, usually at resorts and amusement parks. And according to a new report, the State Department is weighing “major reductions” to the popular program.
Co owner of Jilly’s, Jody Levchuk says at Jilly’s eight different businesses in Ocean City, over a third of his employees are international students.
“They are motivated, they are smart, they go through a very lengthy interview process just to be part of the people who were chosen for the program. They are not just selected at random, so we are really getting the best and the brightest between the people who wish to come over and visit our country. It's a very good tool.”
In Cape May County this year, employers hired over 2,800 international students and according to the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, those students alone pumped in more than $1.4 million into the local economy.”