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Alliance for International Exchange Annual Conference
The Alliance for International Exchange is an association that represents organizations and companies comprising the educational and cultural exchange community in the United States and serves as its only collective public policy voice.
The mission of the Alliance is to promote the growth and impact of exchange programs and the effectiveness of its members. It engages in advocacy, provides member development opportunities, and builds public awareness of the power of exchange.
About the Conference:
Each October, Alliance members convene in Washington, D.C. for the Alliance for International Exchange’s Annual Conference. The Alliance Annual Conference provides a valuable opportunity for the exchange program community to collaborate with one another, engage with key stakeholders (such as the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs) and establish connections within our community. The conference included different topic-based sessions, a networking reception, and influential guest speakers from within and relating to international education and cultural exchange. Scroll down for photos!
Interested in learning more about the FACC's Exchange Visitor Programs in the United States?
Keep reading for a summary of the conference attendees, topics, key announcements and the implications for the FACC Exchange Visitor community. Interested in hearing a more thorough overview and the point of view of immigration professionals? Register now to attend our update on November 19th.
There were over 330 attendees at this year’s conference. Attendees included:
- FACC-NY staff Mary Beth Lambert, Associate Director of International Career Development Programs and Ericka Rodas, Associate.
- Sponsors for a range of J-1 visa categories (intern/trainee, au pair, summer work travel, camp counselor, high school exchanges, etc.)
- Alliance board members
- Exchange program stakeholders (non-sponsors) – ex: Envisage Insurance (insurance policies for J-1 visa holders)
- Officials from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Speakers of note: ECA Assistant Secretary Marie Royce and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office pf Private Sector Exchanges Kevin Saba.
- International Exchange and Public Diplomacy Panelists: Jason Gross (Executive Director, U.S. Global Leadership Coalition), Vivian Walker (Executive Director, U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy), Christopher Wurst (ECA, Director of Collaboratory)
- Government Affairs expert panelists (Washington Update): Bob Carey (Empire-Capitol Strategies), Kate Eltrich (KAE Strategic), and Tracy Taylor (Alignment Government Strategies)
Key topics covered:
- Current events on Capitol Hill regarding Exchange Programs
- Communications/Public Diplomacy surrounding Exchange Visitor Programs
- J-1 visa procedures at the U.S. Embassy
- Intern/Trainee category update and reminders, Intern/Trainee Survey Results, Upcoming Management Review
- DOS Compliance regulatory process
- How to advocate for your Exchange Visitor Program to your local lawmakers
Announcements and Updates:
- Appropriations levels are at an all-time high for Exchange Programs, despite continual pressure from constituencies of both parties.
- Exchange programs remain vulnerable, and it remains crucial for exchange program stakeholders to stay engaged with Congressional members regarding the importance of international exchange.
- Participant survey – In August 2019, the Department of State surveyed all Exchange Visitors in the Intern and Trainee categories whose program ended in 2018. Main takeaways are:
- Host organizations should continue to follow training plans and improve training
- The majority of exchange visitors report having an overall good, happy experience
What does this mean for the FACC Community?
For Host Companies:
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) will be conducting additional site visits starting in Spring 2020. For this reason, we strongly encourage HC’s to continue to keep the FACC informed of any program changes (change of supervisor, change in training plan, etc.) so that we can update this information into the government tracking system. DOS will also be verifying (among other things) that the Exchange Visitors and Host Companies are adhering to the training plan agreed upon by all parties.
In the coming months, the FACC will be conducting additional webinars for direct supervisors.
We’d like to remind all Host Companies that Exchange Visitors are not allowed to perform unskilled labor as part of their program.
In an effort to be in more regular contact with our Exchange Visitors, the FACC will be conducting a town-hall style webinar for all current Exchange Visitors in the coming months. We will field questions ahead of time and also answer questions during the session as the come in. We hope to make this a regular occurrence.
The FACC would like to remind all Exchange Visitors that we (as their sponsor) are the main point-of-contact for the during their exchange program. We encourage them to contact us with any questions, concerns, or complaints. Our primary role is the health, safety, and wellbeing of all of our exchange visitors!