MAJOR changes to J1 rules announced today are “hugely disappointing” according to USI President, Kevin Donoghue.
The US announced that Irish students looking to travel to the states on a working-visa for the summer will have to pre-arrange a job before they arrive in the country.
 
The decision will decrease the number of Irish students travelling to the US for the summer, according to Mr Donoghue.
 
He said that the decision will significantly affect a student’s skills development.
 
“When the J1 programme was launched we saw a surge Irish students travelling to the USA on a working summer visa,” said Mr Donoghue.
 
"It's a fantastic opportunity for personal development through refining independent skills and experiencing another culture. Geographic distance leads to improved problem solving, and openness to experience builds skills and capacities.
 
“The best way to better the mind is through education. The best way to broaden the mind is through travel. Travel also sparks curiosity and an inquisitive mind develops hunger for knowledge and a desire to progress.”
 
Mr Donoghue is worried the decision will make it too difficult for many students to obtain a visa, and will likely see a drop in the number of students interested in the initiative.
 
More than 150,000 students have travelled to the US on J1 Visa’s since the programme began in 1966.
 
Foreign Affairs Minister, Charlie Flanagan was concerned with the change.
 
"For over 50 years, the J1 experience has been a rite of passage for many young Irish students and has played an important and positive role in strengthening the Ireland-US relationship".
 
"It was with some concern that I learned of the proposal to require applicants to arrange employment in advance of travel in order to obtain their J1 visas,” he said.
 
The changes will not be applicable to the 12 month graduate visa.