Speak Up to Support Exchanges

Exchanges Matter

For more than 75 years, professional, academic, and cultural exchange programs have been a proven and cost-effective public diplomacy tool that has strengthened relationships and ties between Americans and the world.

By enabling students, teachers, researchers, scholars, and skilled professionals to experience the United States firsthand–and by allowing Americans to experience life through the lens of other countries in the same way–international exchange programs allow us to:

For these vital programs and others to continue to flourish and retain bipartisan support, congressional officials need to hear directly from you about the local and wide-ranging impact of exchanges in their home states and districts.

Act Now to Support J-1 Exchange Programs

Multiple news sources, including the Wall Street Journal, are reporting that the Trump administration is considering a plan to significantly reduce or eliminate a majority of privately-funded J-1 Exchange Visitor Programs, including J-1 Intern and Trainee programs, as part of the Buy American, Hire American (BAHA) Executive Order.

We believe this effort is both misguided and short-sighted. [Read our full statement]

Elimination of these programs would have a negative impact on local communities, U.S. businesses, and families nationwide, while dramatically weakening our diplomacy efforts. Unfortunately, despite widespread support for these programs, they remain at risk.

That’s why we need your help.

What Can I Do?

Tell Your Reps Why #ExchangesMatter to You

Direct and personal outreach to elected officials is a vital part of successful advocacy. To maintain these important programs, it is essential that your representatives (find them here) are aware of the personal impact exchange programs have made in your life, your community, and your organization.

Call your members of the House and Senate and ask them to support educational and cultural exchanges by demanding that J-1 intern and trainee programs are not included as part of the BAHA implemention. Emails and social media are effective, too.

Here are additional fact sheets and resources to support your efforts.


Find a town hall or forum being held by a congressperson near you.

Members of Congress are primarily concerned with residents from his or her district or state. For our international alumni and supporters, we encourage you to contact the U.S. ambassador in your country, as well as your country’s ambassador in Washington, to share the impact of your exchange experiences. The friends, hosts, and connections you made while in the U.S. can also be important means in which you can actively engage in these efforts.


Stay Informed + Take Action

View our latest updates, statements, as well as calls to action where we need your voice to help support exchange programs.

Action Alerts 

Please check back for updates.

Updates + Information 

Marie Royce sworn in as Assistant Secretary for ECA (March 30)

Marie Royce sworn in as Assistant Secretary for ECA (ECA)

Congress Demonstrates Support for J-1 Visa in FY 2018 Appropriations Bill (March 22)

Congress Demonstrates Support for J-1 Visa in FY 2018 Appropriations Bill (Alliance for International Exchange)

House Approves Omnibus Bill to Fund the Federal Government (March 22)

FY 2018 Appropriations Bill includes include $646.1 million for exchange programs, higher than FY 2017 levels. (Committee on Appropriations)

Bipartisan House Letter in support of exchange program funding submitted to House Appropriations Committee (March 16)

Bipartisan House Letter in support of exchange program funding submitted to House Appropriations Committee. (Alliance for International Exchange)

Senate Appropriations Committee Passes Amendment Aimed at Protecting the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program (September 7)

Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved language designed to ensure that any changes made to the J1 Exchange Visitor Program be done publically, in line with the full notice and comment requirements of the normal federal regulatory process. The amendment was co-sponsored by Senator Chris Coons, Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, and Senator Lisa Murkowksi.

Statement on Threats to J-1 Exchange Programs (August 29)

Act now to protect J-1 Exchanges from restrictions or potential elimination due to President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order.

White House Interagency Group Seeking to Eliminate J-1 Exchange Programs (August 29)

An executive order threatens J-1 Visas (Alliance for International Exchange)

Exchange Programs Receive Unprecedented Support (July 20)

Exchange community, Congress demonstrate strong commitment to exchange programs (Huffington Post)

House Appropriations Committee Approves funding for ECA Programs at $590.9 million, Equal to FY 2016 Level (July 19)

Appropriations Committee Approves Fiscal Year 2018 State and Foreign Operations Bill

Budget Jeopardizes our Nation’s Public Diplomacy Efforts (May 23)

Fate of Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs Rests with Congress Administration’s 2018 Budget Jeopardizes our Nation’s Public Diplomacy Efforts

Increase for Exchanges in FY17 Omnibus Bill (May 5)

Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill for FY17 that the President has signed into law to fund the government through September 30. It includes an increase of 7 percent for ECA programs. The new level of $634.1 million (from $590.9 million in FY16) is just short of the high-water mark of $635 million in FY10. This is extremely significant – especially in light of the administration’s request for a 24 percent cut.

Dear Colleague Letters to Support Exchange (April 7)

Our community supported a letter-writing campaign in April, coordinated by the Alliance for International Exchange, to request that members of the House and Senate add their names to ‘Dear Colleague’ letters addressed to leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations subcommittees, endorsing continued spending for all State Department exchanges. Our meetings on the Hill and outreach helped to grow the bipartisan list to 120 Representatives and 29 Senators!
Senator Cory Booker (NJ) Dear Colleague Letter in Senate (April 7)
Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4) Dear Colleague Letter in House of Representatives (March 29)

Response to Executive Order on Immigration Policy

While this situation is fluid and many specifics remain uncertain, we are certain about our commitment to each of you. Cultural Vistas strives to embrace the benefits of diversity, inclusion, and respect for differing beliefs, and we work every day towards a world which is truly global and pluralistic in outlook.
Response to Executive Order on Immigration Policy

Spread the Word

As the world grows more rapidly, the complexity of the global challenges it faces increase every day. Effective solutions will require a greater diversity of skills, perspectives, resources, and relationships – all of which are made possible through exchange programs.

Share your impact story on our blog
Why are exchange programs important to you? Have you gained fluency in a foreign language or maybe found a mentor that has made all the difference as a result of your experience? We want to hear from you.

Connect with us, and others on social media.
You can start by following @CulturalVistas, @ECAatState, and @AllianceExchnge on Twitter. It’s an easy way to show your support, stay informed, and see the impact of exchanges.

Tell your networks why #ExchangesMatter.

Show your support for exchanges, share these social media graphics:


It is vital that we keep Congress educated on the invaluable benefits of educational and cultural exchange programs.

Fact Sheet: J-1 Visa Exchange Programs
Figures: 2016 Top Intern + Trainee Sending Countries
Figures: 2016 Top Destination U.S. States

The House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs determine the funding level for educational and cultural exchange programs. Its members are the critical decision makers in Congress determining funding for exchange programs.

Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations, + Related Programs




Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations

Majority  Minority Hal Rogers (KY-5), Chairman Nita Lowey (NY-18), Ranking Member Kay Granger (TX-12) Barbara Lee (CA-13) Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2) Charlie Dent (PA-15) Grace Meng (NY-6) Tom Rooney (FL-17) David Price (NC-4) Jeff Fortenberry (NE-1) Chris Stewart (UT-2)





Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations

Majority Minority Lindsey Graham (SC), Chairman Patrick Leahy (VT), Ranking Member Mitch McConnell (KY) Richard Durbin (IL) Roy Blunt (MO) Jeanne Shaheen (NH) John Boozman (AR) Christopher Coons (DE) Jerry Moran (KS) Jeff Merkley (OR) James Lankford (OK) Chris Murphy (CT) Steve Daines (MT) Chris Van Hollen (MD) Marco Rubio (FL)