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News

YFU & The Alliance For International Educational and Cultural Exchange Respond to Proposed Bill Changes

Alicia Kubert

YFU & THE ALLIANCE FOR INTERNATIONAL EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL EXCHANGE
RESPOND TO PROPOSED CHANGES TO BILL H.R. 3344

 
Proposed Bill Amendments Would Drastically Impact Education & Cultural Exchange Programs.

 

Bethesda, MD (May 8, 2014) – This week, Youth For Understanding USA (YFU) added its name to a letter from the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange to Congressman Ed Royce (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in opposition to proposed markups to a bill which would severely impact the entire student exchange industry.

Anti-trafficking Bill, H.R. 3344, introduced by Congressman Royce, originally excluded the Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) from its provisions. Recent proposed revisions – such as including potential provisions that would prohibit on-program fees, amend the definition of J visa sponsors as foreign labor contractors, and require registration with the Department of Homeland Security – raise concern that educational and cultural exchange programs might be substantially damaged as a result. Proposed changes such as these may have trickle down components to nonprofit exchange programs such as YFU.

Families around the world trust YFU because of its reputation for quality, high safety standards, and knowledgeable support network. YFU USA continues to be fully-listed by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), an industry accrediting organization, for implementing numerous layers of protection to ensure student welfare. YFU has rigorous standards for host family screening and selection, including in-home interviews, reference checks, and criminal background checks. As a nonprofit, tuition fees cover costs associated with program oversight and ensure any new regulations mandated by the Department of State are met.

As noted in the Alliance letter, “Any effort to define US exchange sponsors as foreign labor recruiters misunderstands the fundamental character of these cultural exchanges, and will make the programs more difficult to administer.” YFU asserts that young people seeking a global education should not be faced with unnecessary barriers hindering the creation of international connections and cultural understanding.

“Our world is in greater need of cooperation and understanding than perhaps any other time in history,” said Michael E. Hill, President & Chief Executive Officer of YFU USA. “Intercultural exchange is a principal antidote to the hatred and stereotypes that divide people. We urge Congressman Royce and his colleagues to re-examine this bill to ensure that it does not harm a vital instrument of public diplomacy in the United States.”

YFU USA is urging all those who care about intercultural understanding to reach out to their representatives in Congress to share this view.