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US suspends J1 visa programme for some applicants in response to Covid-19 outbreak

The move could affect the travel plans of Irish students this summer.

LAST UPDATE | 14 Mar 2020

THE UNITED STATES has temporarily suspended the J1 summer visa programme for some applicants in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

US president Donald Trump declared the novel coronavirus a national emergency last night, when he also announced $50 billion in funds to help fight the pandemic.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, there are 1,663 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US.

Following last night’s announcement, the country’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State said it would temporarily suspend a number of programmes, including the J1 summer visa, for 60 days.

In a statement, travel agency USIT – which oversees the administration for the visa in Ireland – said it would examine all applications and provide applicants with guidance in due course.

“We will be in a position to do this once we receive further instruction on how to progress from our US sponsors and we expect to have another update to share with you next week,” the company said.

This afternoon, it also clarified that the move only currently affects those travelling between now and up until 11 May.

The move is likely to affect the travel plans of some Irish students this summer, although USIT said that most students and graduates are travelling after that date, and that it would continue to process applications as normal for departures after then. 

Figures earlier this year showed that more than 3,000 people participated in the programme in 2019, although this represented a drop from 2013, when over 8,000 students travelled to the US for summer work. 

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