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Ensuring the Safety and Security of ECA Exchange Participants

Posted on Friday, March 9th, 2018 at 8:58 pm.

By Lynette Evans-Tiernan, Communications Manager for the J-Visa Exchange Visitor Program

At the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, we have a steadfast and enduring commitment to safety and security. This commitment extends not only to U.S. citizens and diplomats overseas, but also to the thousands of exchange visitors from every sector of society who participate in educational and cultural exchange programs abroad and here in the United States.

On February 26, Acting Assistant Secretary Jennifer Zimdahl Galt hosted a dialogue with sponsors that administer the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program to discuss how to continue to strengthen efforts to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of exchange participants.

During the webinar, Acting Assistant Secretary Galt reaffirmed the paramount importance of keeping all exchange participants safe and reinforced a culture of accountability across partner organizations. She said: “Ensuring the safety and security of more than 300,000 exchange participants a year is a weighty responsibility; it is one that I take to heart each and every day and that requires our collective, sustained focus. We must continuously strive, working together, toward that goal.”

Safety and security considerations are infused in every step of the Department’s implementation of the program beginning with sponsor designations where well-designed plans and processes are outlined, moving through to the careful selection and screening of participants, host families, schools and worksites. Safety and security continues through of all phases of the program including pre-departure and arrival briefings, monitoring and oversight, 24/7 hotlines, health benefits programs, and providing active, skilled and compassionate responses when emergencies arise.

“We want every exchange participant who has a problem to feel comfortable reaching out to their host employers and sponsor, to know that their concerns will be taken seriously, to report incidents without fear of retaliation, and to receive the best qualified assistance as quickly as possible,” said Acting Assistant Secretary Galt. “No exchange participant – wherever they are in the world – should ever be alone without recourse.”

Together, the Department and sponsors are striving to strengthen and improve safety and security measures to ensure the best experience possible for exchange participants and their American communities.

Read Acting Assistant Secretary Galt’s full remarks

Categories: Program Spotlight

About G. Kevin Saba

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange

G. Kevin Saba

G. Kevin Saba serves as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). In this capacity, he oversees the Exchange Visitor Program, which brings around 300,000 foreign citizens to the United States annually to teach, study, and build skills. He is the Director for the Policy and Program Support Division in ECA’s Office of Private Sector Exchange.

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