Summer camp counselor shortage linked to US J1 visa COVID delays

In England, Kishon Roberts spends her days checking Twitter for policy updates and emailing the U.S. Embassy in London for the status of a visa application that’s key to her camp counselor job this summer in the United States. 

Two hours north of New York City, Roberts’ would-be workplace, Camp Pontiac, is preparing to open June 26.

It’s unclear if Roberts, 18, will make it there in time. And some camp leaders are worried they won’t be able to offer a full slate of youth programs due to a shortage of foreign, seasonal staff this year.

American summer camps are up against the same staffing crunch plaguing other employers seeking lower-wage workers, but with a lingering pandemic twist. Many camps rely on foreign workers who come on temporary, cultural-exchange visas. Because of processing holdups and a COVID-19-related travel ban on certain countries, those workers aren’t coming.

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