Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade Darragh O’Brien TD has voiced his concern following reports that a number of Irish students planning to spend the summer in the United States are being forced to cancel their plans.
The students are being forced to change their summer plans as a result of issues surrounding the processing of J1 Visa’s.
Deputy O’Brien commented, “I’m alarmed by the growing number of students who are coming forward and highlighting the serious issues that they are facing in securing a J1 Visa. The changes announced to the J1 Visa Programme last November saw the introduction of new restrictions, including a provision which states that Irish students must have a pre-arranged job before travelling to the United States under the programme. However many Irish students have been unable to secure work to date, despite having spent large sums of money in applying for the J1 Visa and arranging flights.
“This development is disappointing as the J1 Visa Programme has been used extensively by Irish students for close to 50 years. It’s played an important role in facilitating students in accessing vital work experience. Unfortunately these new rules appear to have caused serious problems for Irish students, many of whom are now going to miss out on the opportunity to work and live in the United States for the summer. It’s worrying that there was little indication of serious problems until recent weeks, and many students are now only becoming aware of the new requirements under the programme.
“Ireland has a strong bond with the United States which stretches back decades. Our relationship with the United States developed as a result of initiatives such as the J1 Visa Programme. It's imperative that our close links with the United States are maintained. Accordingly I’m calling on Minister for Foreign Affairs apressnd Trade Charlie Flanagan to engage with officials on this issue to see if a better outcome can be achieved for those affected.
“I’ve tabled a series of parliamentary questions to Minister Flanagan on a number of issues including this which are due to be addressed on Thursday next. We must get to the bottom of this problem and prevent it from happening again,” said Deputy O’Brien.