US Embassy ‘working hard’ to minimise waiting times for J1 Visas

Students have expressed concerns they will be unable to work abroad due to visa delays

The J1 programme allows students from Ireland to work and travel in the US for several months every summer. Photograph: iStock

The J1 programme allows students from Ireland to work and travel in the US for several months every summer. Photograph: iStock

 

The US embassy is “working hard” to minimise waiting times for processing J1 visas and have increased resources to speed up applications, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said.

In recent weeks, students in Ireland have expressed concern they may not be able to work in the United States this summer due to delays with processing their J1 visa applications.

The J1 programme allows students from Ireland to work and travel in the US for several months every summer, and has been in operation since 1966.

Many students are scheduled to fly out to America at the end of this month, but some students have reported not yet having been given a date for an embassy interview, despite signing up to the companies who facilitate the programme in January.

In response to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD Colm Burke, Mr Coveney said the processing of US visas is solely a matter for the US authorities and his department has no remit over the service.

“My advice to those seeking to apply for a US visa or for a visa waiver is to get information from the website of the US Embassy in Dublin and to engage with them directly on their application,” he said.

“In recent days, officials from my department have discussed the matter with the US Embassy, who are working hard to minimise waiting times and have recently dedicated extra resources to the processing of J1 visa applications, which is expected to result in a significant increase in the number being processed in the coming days and weeks.”

Mr Coveney said the J1 programme is a “valuable part” of building exchange between the two countries, adding that the State is “keen” to see participant levels return to pre-pandemic levels.

“Ease of travel is essential to protect our strong transatlantic connections, be that in business, academic, tourism or maintaining family connections.”

The issuing of the visas was temporarily suspended in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prior to that, thousands of students availed of the opportunity every summer. However, the number of students undertaking the programme has been in decline in recent years.

In 2013 more than 8,000 students travelled to the US for summer work under the programme, but this figure dropped by nearly 60 per cent by 2019 to 3,392.