Washington, DCToday, Representative John Curtis (R-UT), led a bipartisan letter with the Utah House Members of Congress, Reps. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Rob Bishop (R-UT), to United States Department of State Secretary Mike Pompeo, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf and Department of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia concerning the President’s “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak,” which halted H-1B and most J-1 visas, and its effects on the Utah Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program. The Utah Congressmen request that an exemption be made to the J-1 and H-1B visa ban for international teachers.

“Across Utah, there are nearly 300 DLI schools utilizing over 50 international teachers teaching Chinese, German, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Because of the skills required to teach in a DLI program, many positions do not receive any qualified American applicants, and the programs turn to international teachers as a last resort. Not only do these teachers fill important teaching positions, they also facilitate an exchange of cultures and share their fluency in languages all deemed critical by the U.S. Department of Defense.”

Full text of the letter below. PDF available here

“Dear Secretary Pompeo, Acting Secretary Wolf, and Secretary Scalia,

We write concerning the President’s “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak,” Proclamation 10052, and its effects on the Utah Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program.

Across Utah, there are nearly 300 DLI schools utilizing over 50 international teachers teaching Chinese, German, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Because of the skills required to teach in a DLI program, many positions do not receive any qualified American applicants, and the programs turn to international teachers as a last resort. Not only do these teachers fill important teaching positions, they also facilitate an exchange of cultures and share their fluency in languages all deemed critical by the U.S. Department of Defense. 

While we understand and support the prioritization of American workers, we are concerned that the recent prohibition of J-1 and H-1B visas will put DLI students at a disadvantage this school year – when schools already face uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Utah DLI program utilizes J-1 and H-1B visas to fill teacher openings if, and only if, those positions cannot be filled by American applicants, thus ensuring that international teachers are not replacing American workers. 

Because of the importance of education and DLI programs to the future of our nation, we respectfully ask that you consider an exemption to the J-1 and H-1B visa ban for international teachers filling critical DLI teaching positions in programs that have been unsuccessful in filling the positions with Americans. We believe that the ability to reopen schools safely in the fall and to provide a first-class education is in the national interest of Utah and American families.”

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