Businesses on the Outer Banks are preparing for an annual influx of international students who spend their summers working along the barrier islands.
The Outer Banks attract more than 1,000 temporary workers a year through a J-1 Visa program run by the U.S. State Department.
The State Department approves a limited number of applications every year. Program coordinators say there have been no indications so far that the Trump Administration will change that policy.
Jamie Bond, chair of the International Student Outreach Program on the Outer Banks, said the students are selected for particular areas around the country where they won't displace American workers.
“It's pretty important to the Outer Banks, because we have about 1,300 to 1,400 students who come every summer and we still have jobs that go unfilled,” Bond said. “So without them, we would be in pretty big trouble around here trying to run our tourism economy.”
Bond said the program has grown steadily over the years. Last year’s figure represented a 10 percent hike from the previous year.
“A lot of them come and work retail,” she said. “We have several large hotels in the area. We have a new water park that's opening here. It's mostly hospitality-type jobs.”