J-1 Visa to be removed for Irish Graduates in 2018

Hannah Collins

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It has been just over one year since Donald J. Trump was elected as the 45th president of the United States of America and already he is making some big changes that will change the Irish/American relationship with the removal of the graduate visa.

Donald Trump running in the US election 2015 - Photo Credit Michael Candelori
Donald Trump running in the US election 2015 – Photo Credit Michael Candelori

This abolishment is to come in to place as soon as next year, despite being approved for an extension of 3 years last December.

In 2015 when Trump announced he was running for President, he stated that one of his first moves, if he was elected, was to abolish the J-1 visa and earlier this year USIT confirmed that they would no longer be taking applications for the 2018 graduate programme, however, the summer programme is still open to third level students.

The J-1 and graduate visa program give students from Ireland the opportunity to travel and work in the US for the summer months and for graduates to spend up to a year living and working in the area they studied in, in America.

Irish graduates starting new life in New York – Credit Eilidh Brosnahan

The President of the United States described the visa as a “jobs programme for foreign youths” and wanted it replaced with a scheme that created jobs for young people in US inner cities.

In a statement released by USIT in September, they said, “It is USIT’s understanding that there now exists a very real possibility that the Graduate Visa programme may be discontinued as early as 2018. Further to this, a decision via The White House is expected to be made in regard to this programme.

“The decision will naturally have an enormous and fundamental on impact upon recently graduated Irish students in 2017…as a result of this period of uncertainty, we would like to make it clear that we will not be accepting any bookings for the 2018 Graduate Visa Programme.”

Following the release of the statement, programme coordinators took to Facebook live to explain the situation and answer any questions students or graduates may have.

New York City - Photo Credit Hannah Collins
New York City – Photo Credit Hannah Collins

Clodagh Ní Chléirigh graduated from Dublin Institute of Technology with a degree in Business and Management is currently living in New York on the graduate visa and believes other Irish students should have the chance to have this experience once they finish college.

Clodagh said, “living and working in America is a once in a lifetime opportunity that every graduate should be given the chance to do if they would like, I don’t understand why Trump wants to remove the programme”.

The relationship between America and Ireland is so strong that they welcome the Irish with open arms

Clodagh went on to say she doesn’t understand what good comes out of taking away the programme as it has proved to be a success since it started many years ago.

Irish students enjoying a day in Central Park - Photo Credit Hannah Collins
Irish students enjoying a day in Central Park – Photo Credit Hannah Collins

“I don’t understand his mindset by saying that he’s abolishing the graduate visa. I’m not sure he’s aware of the number of Irish people who leave Ireland and work for him.

In the new year, the situation regarding the graduate visas will become more clear, in the meantime, students must patiently wait as their plans for a year in the States awaits a final decision.

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Hannah Collins