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Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD on Summer J1 Programme

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.

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.”


Press Office

12 November 2015

Notes for editors

1. Two US-based sponsoring agencies are responsible for the great majority of Irish J1 visas issued. The sponsoring agencies administer the J1 programme for the US State Department and are also responsible for ensuring those undertaking the programme are in compliance with all of its rules.

2. These two US sponsoring agencies for Irish J1s are CIEE (who work with travel agent USIT), and Interexchange (who work with the travel agency SAYIT). They have indicated they will be adding a requirement for all applications for 2016 Summer J1s from Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) partner countries to have jobs pre-arranged before travelling to the US.

3. These VWP countries include Ireland, the UK, France, Czech Republic and others.

4. Jobs pre-placement has been a requirement of the US State Department, who manage the J1 programme, for those coming from non-VWP countries for some years. The US State Department have no such requirements for VWP countries but US sponsoring bodies are independent companies and are empowered by the US authorities to set their own rules, within the overall parameters of the programme.