Plans to introduce a requirement to prearrange jobs for the J1 programme has been made public by the US sponsoring bodies who manage the Irish student participating in the Work Travel Programme.
The two US sponsoring agencies for Irish J1s are CIEE (who work with travel agent USIT), and Interexchange (who work with the travel agency SAYIT) and they have indicated they will add this requirement for all 2016 Summer J1 applications from Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) countries which includes Ireland.
Minister Flanagan commented:
“For almost 50 years, the J1 experience has been a rite of passage for many young Irish students and has played an important and positive role in strengthening the Ireland-US relationship. It was with some concern that I learned of the proposal to require applicants to arrange employment in advance of travel in order to obtain their J1 visas.
“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. I raised the matter with very senior members of the US Administration during my visit to the US last month and I have in recent days also written to Secretary of State Kerry outlining my concerns. I have also been in contact with the US Ambassador in Dublin, Kevin O’Malley, on the matter and appreciate his helpful engagement on the issue.
“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.”