New J1 Guide Launched
Minister for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan TD has launched a new J1 Guide for those visiting the USA on a J1 visa this summer.
The guide was produced by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and was supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It contains advice on finding a job, insurance, legal issues, money, accommodation, ID and personal safety.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the Guide, Minister Deenihan said: “The J1 Summer Work and Travel programme has played an extremely positive role in building US-Irish links over the past 50 years. The Government’s focus is on maximising student participation in the J1 programme in 2016 and beyond. I am pleased that the Department is in a position to support USI in the production of this excellent and informative guide. I strongly encourage students wishing to apply for this year’s summer J1 to engage with the process now so that they can meet the requirements of the programme and go on to have a great experience in the US.”
The guide contains advice on:
Finding a job
It’s now necessary to find a job before you can get your J1 visa from USIT or SAYIT, the two main J1 Travel Agents. This may sound like a challenge but it’s quite doable – it does however require some planning. The important thing is to get started as soon as possible. Be resourceful – talk to recent J1-ers and use the web. If you find a job independently, make sure you submit it for vetting to your sponsoring agency. The J1 sponsors are also running job placement programmes, with virtual and real jobs fairs with interested companies being held. So get your American-style resume written and submitted to them as soon as you can.
The J1 sponsors are running job placement programmes, with virtual and real jobs fairs with interested companies being held
As an Irish citizen in the United States, you are bound by US law. If you’re arrested you’ll have to go through the local justice system, which could mean fines, jail and likely deportation and exclusion, and crucially could adversely affect your chances of getting back to the US down the line. Don’t forget to familiarise yourself with the laws that will directly affect you during your stay in the US.
Make sure you take out adequate health insurance before leaving Ireland, and be sure to read your insurance policy closely. Healthcare in the USA is very expensive. If your insurance doesn’t pay up, you can incur huge bills. While the Irish Embassy and Consulates in the USA will do what they can to assist if you fall ill or are injured, they cannot cover your medical expenses. It is a good idea to check out the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Travel advice page before travelling.
Somewhere to live
You should secure accommodation before travelling to the USA. Companies offering J1 visas will give you advice on places to stay. Just like in Ireland, you have a responsibility to look after and care for the accommodation you’re living in when you’re in the US.
- Read and understand your lease before signing. Get a receipt. Don’t pay by cash if possible.
- Double check the amount of the deposit and rent in advance.
- Check the locks on doors and windows. Make sure you know who else has a key.
Take enough money
Remember to bring enough money to cover a deposit for accommodation, and possibly rent in advance. Don't keep all your money in one place. Make sure any ATM cards you take have the Visa or Mastercard logos, and remember withdrawal limits apply in the USA.
Keep a photocopy of the ID page of your passport in a secure place
Some states may insist you carry ID at all times. A police officer may stop and ask you to identify yourself if she believes you are engaged in criminal activity. Passports are seriously valuable documents for criminals, and a big headache for J1 students every year. Keep them safe.
If your passport is stolen, report it to the police straight away and apply for replacement travel documentation at the nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate. Depending on where you are located this process may take time – time that you may not have if you want to fly somewhere else... It is much easier just to keep the passport safe.
Keep a photocopy of the ID page of your passport in a secure place in case you have to apply for a replacement passport. Store a photo of the page on your phone too.
You won’t know the lay of the land in a new city, but you can compensate for lack of local knowledge by not taking unnecessary chances.
- Try to walk in a group at night, and stick to busy streets with lots of lighting and traffic.
- Try to avoid talking on your mobile or listening to an IPod, as these will make you less aware of your surroundings and also advertise that you have something worth stealing.
- Always make sure someone knows when you’re going out, if and when you’re coming back, and with whom you’ll be. When you’re on your way home, let someone know when to expect you.
All J1 students need to apply for and receive a Social Security Number by visiting their local Social Security Office. Speak to either USIT or SAYIT for advice on how and when to apply. To avoid delays it is important to register your US address with SEVIS (the Student and exchange Visitor System) as soon as possible and do not apply for a Social Security number until two days after you register in SEVIS.
Keep your social security card in a safe place. Do not carry it around with you.
When you are Leaving
Don’t forget to file for your US tax refund. As a J1 Visa holder, you are obligated by law to file a US tax return. The average US tax refund is $850 so it’s well worth applying. Remember to close your US bank accounts in case fees might attach to accounts left open.
The average US tax refund is $850 so it’s well worth applying