Taoiseach Enda Kenny said “issues that have arisen” has led the authorities that issue the visas to consider changing the requirements for students.
The possible changes have thrown summer 2016 into doubt for many Irish students.
According to students in DCU, the idea that students will have to compete with one other for jobs before leaving Ireland makes the J1 experience seem less appealing. This change could lead to a reduction in the number of Irish students participating in the programme by up to 80 per cent.
The Union of Students in Ireland President, Kevin Donoghue, said, “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.”
Donoghue also said “the recent proposed restrictions for the J1 would decrease the number of students successful in their programme applications because of the necessity of securing employment”.
USIT, one of the biggest travel companies that organises J1 visas, “makes a sizeable portion of its revenue” from its involvement with the programme with 8,000 applications processed last year, according to the Irish Examiner.
This change in requirement will greatly affect business for USIT and other student travel agencies in the country.
Students with connections in America through family members and friends will find the task less challenging, but for the rest it will be harder to guarantee a position.
Many students admit to obtaining jobs in previous years by walking into a shop or restaurant and getting hired for seasonal work on the spot. Without the freedom to find a job after arrival, fewer students will be able to get employment and so the number of students travelling on a J1 will decline.
This plan combined with US Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s immigration plan to terminate the J1 visa altogether, the future of the programme is in doubt.