J-1 Summer Work/Travel Students from Ireland Now Required to Secure Jobs
The government had been lobbying for Ireland to be exempt from the requirement – however in a statement this morning the Department of Foreign Affairs conceded students would need to pre-arrange employment.
“The US sponsoring bodies managing the great majority of Irish participants in the United States Summer Work Travel Programme (known as the J1 programme) have made public plans to introduce a requirement for applicants from countries in the Visa Waiver Programme, which includes Ireland, to pre-arrange jobs as part of their Summer 2016 J1 applications.”
Flanagan said in a statement that he had been concerned when he first learned of the plan.
“I am concerned that meeting the requirements of the new rules may prove challenging for many students and this may in turn impact on the numbers of students participating in the programme,” the minister said.
Letter to Kerry
Flanagan added that he had been in contact with the US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’ Malley on the issue, and even written to Secretary of State John Kerry about it.
“My Department and our Embassy in Washington will closely monitor the impact of these changes and will remain in close contact with the US State Department and with the relevant agencies and bodies in the coming months.”
Speaking last month, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was concerned the measures could have a number of consequences:
“Either a serious reduction in the number of J1 visas that would be granted to Ireland – perhaps down by as much as 60 to 80 per cent, or people would travel out on holiday visas and then decide to work illegally – which would only cause trouble for themselves and for everybody else afterwards.”
President of the Union of Students in Ireland Kevin Donoghue said he expected the impact to be “significant, especially in the first couple of years”.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, he said he expected there would be a decrease in the number of people applying and a rise in unsuccessful applications as a result of the measure.
Donoghue said the USI was focusing on “putting together the infrastructures” that will will allow students to secure work before they travel.
Two US-based sponsoring agencies are responsible for the vast majority of Irish J1 visas issued – CIEE (who work with the USIT travel agency) and Interexchange (who work with SAYIT). Both have indicated that countries from Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) partner countries will need to have jobs pre-arranged before travelling to the US next summer.
Alongside Ireland, the UK, France, the Czech Republic and other countries are part of the VWP category. Job pre-placement has been a requirement of the US State Department for students coming from non-VWP countries for years. The US State Department don’t have any such requirements for VWP countries. However, US sponsoring bodies are independent companies empowered by American authorities to set their own rules within the overall parameters of the programme.