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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 28 February, 2020
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Future of thousands of J1 student visas safe

There was concern that legislation on immigration reform going through the US Senate would wipe out the J1 visa.

Image: US party via Shutterstock

STUDENTS ACROSS THE country can breathe a sigh of relief after it was revealed today that the future of J1 work and travel visas are safe.

Andrew Doyle, Fine Gael TD for Wicklow speaking during a Topical Issue debate in the Dáil said they had been secured after much lobbying in Washington DC.

There was some concern that legislation on immigration reform going through the US Senate would wipe out the J1 visa by imposing charges and levies on Irish students. Other stipulations included Irish students potentially having to secure employment before leaving Ireland for the US for the summer months.

These proposals have now been dropped by the US.

In 2009, 6,700 students spent their summer in the United States, while three years later in 2012, almost 10,500 Irish students availed of the scheme, an increase of 54 per cent.

“When I was young, masses of Irish people went to the United States, and the tradition has continued over the decades,” said Doyle. “The participation of tens of thousands of young Irish people in the J1 programme has undoubtedly made an important contribution to the development of our bilateral relationship with the US.”

Illegal Irish immigrants

The immigration bill now moves on to the House of Representatives for approval. If passed, it would lead to legal status for millions of people without papers in the country.

There are an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants in the United States who are ineligible for social security but can’t return home to Ireland as if they do they could be barred from re-entering the US.

Related: Employer sponsorship proposal ‘could wipe out’ J1 visas>
More: 16 things you’ll remember from your J1 experience>

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Amy Croffey

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