Visa Details Still Being Finalized

November 19, 2008

By April Drew
THE Irish government and the U.S. State Department are in the process of finalizing details concerning the new one-year J visas which will allow Irish and American students, post-university or currently registered in a course, to live and work in the U.S. and Ireland for up to a year as part of a pilot program.

In October Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheal Martin told colleagues that “the agreement will come into effect on November 1 and we would hope to see the first visas issued shortly after that.”

Although, slightly behind schedule, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs told the Irish Voice that the State Department is in the final stages of discussions with the various sponsoring agencies that will administrate the allocation of the visas to Irish students.

The U.S. government agreed to make available up to 20,000 visas for Irish citizens each year which will allow them to work and travel in the U.S. for 12 months, after which time they must return home.

Reciprocally, the Irish government will allow up to 5,000 U.S. citizens to work and travel in Ireland also for a year. Each individual citizen will be free to secure employment upon arrival in each country. It will not be necessary to acquire a job prior to arrival in either country.

The U.S. government will require each individual wishing to participate in the program to apply through a separate sponsoring agency which has not yet been finalized. Upon arriving in the U.S., Irish participants must inform the sponsoring agency of their location and job.

To qualify for the visa program, each participant must hold an Irish or U.S. passport. Each applicant must be in either post-secondary education which includes current enrollment in a third level institution, or in a course that could allow a student to go on obtain a degree, or have graduated within the preceding 12 months.

U.S. citizens applying for a J visa to live and work in Ireland can do so through the Irish Embassy in Washington. The Irish consulates in Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco will also accept applications.

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said in September at the signing of the pilot program in Washington, “In the spirit of promoting closer cooperation, our two governments have now agreed to expand the exchange opportunities offered to both nation’s citizens. These exchanges enable our citizens an opportunity to broaden their cultural horizons and gain insight into the other country’s way of life.

“The new agreement, which we just signed, will follow in that tradition, allowing young people from both of our countries to experience new and interesting things.”

Martin has also promised to continue to seek other visa agreements with the U.S. Last month he said the Irish government is still looking towards finding a solution for the Irish undocumented living in the U.S

“I would like to emphasize that finding a solution for our undocumented citizens remains a key priority. In my meetings in Washington last month with U.S. political leaders, I stressed the importance which the government continues to attach to this issue.”

For more information on the J visas, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs website at

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