Backlog of student visas will impact opening of some Jersey Shore attractions

Several businesses at the Jersey Shore are struggling to fill positions that are typically held by international students because of backlogs in the visa program.

News 12 Staff

Apr 9, 2021, 9:02 PM

Updated 1,140 days ago

Share:

Several businesses at the Jersey Shore are struggling to fill positions that are typically held by international students because of backlogs in the visa program.
“We had one water park closed, one pier closed, one pier only open at night, a restaurant closed – all because we didn’t have enough staff,” says Morey’s Piers Vice President of Human Resources Denise Beckson.
Morey’s Piers hires 1,500 seasonal works each year – a third of which are through J-1 Visa student exchange program. But with the pandemic last year, many of these international students weren’t able to come.
“In a non-COVID year, we’d have as many as 2,500 to 3,000 international students here in Cape May County,” says Cape May County Chamber of Commerce President Vicki Clark. “In New Jersey, we’ve had as many as 5,000 in some years.”
A ban on those visas was lifted on March 31, but there is now a backlog.
“The problem is there’s a real backload for visas. Everybody who has wanted to come to the United States for the last year is in a queue to get a visa appointment and an embassy or consulate,” says Beckson. “Now when you start adding our students to that, they’re way at the back of the line.”
Morey’s Piers typically employs 500 of these students to run the rides, work in restaurants and hotels. If the students do not get their visas approved in time for the summer, some of the attractions will have to remain closed.
"It's not just us that use them. I mean this will impact Cape May County, it will impact the Wildwoods. It’s going to impact our parks up north, you know, Jenkinson's, Casino Pier and Steel Pier Atlantic City,” says Beckson. “We all use this program because we're all in the same situation where we don't have large local populations and we're really hopeful that the Biden administration can recognize that."
Morey's Piers typically opens for the season around Easter, but delayed it this year to May because of the staffing shortage. They say the international students are a major help during the spring and late fall when local students are still in school.


More from News 12