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WYSE Travel Confederation |
Travel Safety Panel on J-1 Visa Program trends and mental health support for students abroad
WYSE News | July 10, 2024

The WYSE Travel Confederation Travel Safety Panel gets together every few weeks to catch up on what’s going on in the landscape of travel safety, particularly concerning insurance, visas, and international exchange programmes. Our panellists are experts in their field across various sectors and give us insights into the latest developments shaping the industry.

Below is a look at some of the recent topics that have arisen during Q2 2024. If you would like to contribute to any of these topics, our Membership team would be delighted to hear from you.

Visa and Insurance Landscape

Linda Langin, President of CareMed International Travel Insurance highlighted the growing complexities faced by students participating in study abroad programmes, particularly those heading to the US, Spain, and the Czech Republic. Consular offices are imposing stricter insurance requirements, including mandatory coverage for medical expenses, mental health, and repatriation. While this has led to increased insurance costs, it has also fostered a greater understanding of the need for comprehensive coverage among programme participants.

She also noted that while response times and requirements vary among consular officers, CareMed International Travel Insurance supports applicants by providing consulate letters as proof of adequate insurance coverage.

The mental health aspect has emerged as a critical component of travel safety. The demand for telehealth services and mental health support for students abroad has grown significantly. Insurance providers are adapting their offerings to meet this growing need.

Claudia Reichstein, Director of international programmes at DR-WALTER Insurance Brokers, echoed similar sentiments, underscoring the strictness of insurance requirements in the US market for study abroad programmes.

J-1 Visa Programme Trends

Enda Kelleher, Vice President at Sprintax USA, provided insights into the dynamics of J-1 visa programmes, particularly noting the impact of COVID-19 on seasonal employment.

He highlighted recent issues in Provincetown concerning visa denials from the consulate in Sofia, Bulgaria. The recent visa denial issues have highlighted the importance of effective communication and collaboration between government agencies, host employers, and programme sponsors. While the situation remains under investigation, it underscores the need for proactive measures to prevent similar incidents in the future. Read more on this recent news in Provincetown.

Regarding tax compliance services, Kelleher expressed satisfaction with the recent tax season and emphasised the benefits of integrating tax products with visa-related services for streamlined customer experience.

Jimmy Brazelton, Managing Director of Geovisions, provided current insights into the J1 visa industry, noting that there haven’t been significant developments recently and that most summer arrivals have already occurred. He also highlighted a noticeable trend where traditional host companies in the work and travel programme are showing less enthusiasm, potentially due to rising housing costs and increased investment required.

As a result, some of these companies are now favouring local college students for summer staffing, and this shift is likely to continue into 2025 as housing costs remain a persistent challenge. Brazelton mentioned that other J1 programmes, such as internships, traineeships, teaching, and camps, are operating without major issues.

Additionally, the Alliance for International Exchange is actively surveying host companies and students this year, with results eagerly anticipated. Overall, apart from these observations, there haven’t been notable changes in the industry.


As the travel safety sector deals with changing global dynamics like tougher visa rules, higher healthcare costs, and recovery after the pandemic, collaboration and adaptability are important.

The panel’s insights show a strong commitment to keeping travellers safe and making programmes sustainable, ensuring that international exchanges keep thriving in a safe and supportive environment. Going forward, these insights will help shape strategies to protect travellers and promote cultural exchange around the world.


Linda Langin

Travel Safety Panel Chair
CareMed International Travel Insurance


Claudia Reichstein

Director of
International programmes
DR-Walter Insurance Brokers

Enda Kelleher

Enda Kelleher

Vice President
Sprintax USA

Jimmy Brazelton | WYSE Travel Confederation | Travel Safety |

Jimmy Brazelton

Managing Director