In Intrax’s 40+ years of operation in international exchange, we’ve faced many challenges. However, we aren't exaggerating in saying never have we looked forward to a new year with so much hope. Yes, there are many unknown variables as we embark into 2021: a change in U.S. Administration, ongoing distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations and reduced (but increasing) Embassy operation levels, to name a few. In spite of so much still unknown, we do have evidence pointing towards a better 2021:
- U.S. Unemployment rate continues to edge down.
- Vaccinations are being widely distributed around the world.
- CDC Testing and International Air Travel recommendations have been released.
- Intrax continues to be exempt from Proclamation 10052.
You may have read the New Year’s Eve news about Trump extending Proclamation 10052’s expiration date from December 31st to March 31st. While this news may sound like defeat for the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, we want to assure you that the October 1st court-ordered injunction blocks this ban from being enforceable for Intrax and other named parties of the lawsuit. As a result of the injunction, Intrax and other sponsors have been successful in obtaining consular visa appointments and visa issuance for some applicants. This will continue in spite of the Trump Extension.
The Trump Administration's appeal of the injunction will be heard on January 19th in the ninth circuit court in San-Francisco. The U.S. Chambers of Commerce, and all who successfully represented the NAM vs DHS case, are optimistic about the outcome. Additionally, focused advocacy efforts are being made to ensure that the new administration will strongly support exchange programs. Efforts are also being made to the new administration to rescind the Trump Proclamation 10052 when they take office later in January .
As consular operations return to fuller levels of operation and vaccinations continue to disperse around the world, Intrax remains convinced that our programs will return to normal levels and continue to fulfill their important role in American public diplomacy. In anticipation of summer participant arrivals, participant recruitment is in full swing and Intrax Work Travel has returned most of our furloughed staff to work.
As we share this message of hope and the ongoing actions Intrax is taking to secure a strong future for J-1 Exchange Programs, we thank you for helping make it possible. Your partnership, your commitment to the integrity of the program, and your dedication to our participants and to the mission of the Exchange Visitor Program are reminders of what makes these programs so exceptional.
Happy New Year! 2021 is going to be a much better year for all!