Provincetown is not on the blacklist for international summer workers

U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Massachusetts, blamed miscommunication for the disturbing emails some international students who applied for J-1 visas received. They included a rejection notice, notices of applications on hold, and a suggestion to apply to companies other than those in Provincetown.

“Provincetown is not blacklisted for J-1 visas,” Keating said in a phone call Monday.

Keating had a briefing with the State Department on Monday after business owners and municipal officials approached him with concerns. Last year, more than 340 J-1 visa holders were employed in Provincetown businesses.

According to the Department of State, the J-1 non-immigrant visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work-study-based exchange visitor programs.

“This is the lifeline for our businesses,” Keating said. “It’s so important to Provincetown and the entire Cape and Islands.”

Keating said it was not unusual for a student’s application to be suspended if the application was not fully completed. He said Provincetown is on track to have more J-1 visa holders than last year. The State Department said it would speed up the processing of applicants on hold.

He said rejection notices are not entirely unusual.

Summer would be a disaster, said one businessman

Frank Vasselo, owner of Relish, became concerned when a former J-1 visa worker said his application had been denied and another had been put on hold. Most of its workforce consists of J-1 visa students. Without them, the summer would be a disaster, he said.

Keating’s office is investigating the J-1 visa issue in Provincetown

Keating said his office and the State Department were able to quickly identify and fix the problem. He downplayed Provincetown’s comment, blaming it on miscommunication or possibly misleading advice.

Vasello and some business owners believed the problem was related to J-1 students working as pedicabs, a prohibited position for J-1 students.

“We didn’t think that was a problem,” says Keating.

Denise Coffey writes about business, tourism and issues affecting the Cape’s residents and visitors. Contact her at [email protected] .

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