Varadkar, Coveney push for J1 visa program to be reinstated for summer 2022
GOVERNMENT Pushed the Biden administration to reinstate the J1 visa program by next summer.
The popular program was suspended last year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The impact on the travel industry and the closure of the program resulted in the liquidation of the company that operates USIT Ireland, which handled visa applications.
Generations of young Irish people have traveled to the United States for summers on visas, with figures showing more than 3,000 people participated in the program in 2019.
With the lifting of the travel ban to the United States in November, the Irish government wants to bring students back to America next year.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, who did his J1 summer in Washington DC before entering politics, raised the issue during a meeting last week with US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.
Varadkar reportedly argued that the program is very useful and is not just about summer jobs for students or seasonal labor for US companies.
Raimondo is convinced he could resume next summer, although that depends on the public health situation.
“I raised the issue of the J1 summer visa with Secretary Raimondo. I stressed that this was not only a valuable source of seasonal workers for American companies, but also a formative experience for many young Irish people who are fortunate enough to discover and even fall in love with America.
“I expressed my hope that the J1 program and our working holiday visa program would operate normally in the summer of 2022,” Varadkar said. The newspaper.
Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney, who was also recently in New York and Washington DC, said The newspaper that the resumption of the J1 visa program “will depend on the trajectory of the pandemic by then”.
“For now, we absolutely have to focus on lifting the travel ban and making it a success. We will of course continue to work on J1, ”he said.
Speaking during a visit to Taoiseach Micheál Martin last week, United States Governor Kathy Hochul said the message to travelers around the world is that the Covid rate in New York is low and New York York is “open for business” with museums, concerts and Broadway shows. everything has reopened.
Asked about the Irish students returning next summer, she said: “I would absolutely love to see them come back next year.”
“It’s part of my childhood – I spent time in Ireland and London as a student and I’m a better person to have this international experience. I think it’s really disheartening to me that during the Trump administration there was such a crackdown on anyone coming here, ”she said.
She said America “needs to get them back” because immigration “is part of our heritage.”
Hochul said the Trump administration has suppressed people from entering America and said it will work to make New York a more welcoming place.
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While the return of the J1 visa seems likely next year, work is also underway to get the E3 visa on line for Irish citizens.
An E3 visa bill fell at the last hurdle of the US Senate two years ago, but had it been successful, thousands more US visas could have been issued to the Irish.
As the bill passed in the US House of Representatives, without needing a vote, it hit a serious hurdle in the Senate.
He needed unanimous support in the 100-seat Senate because it was fast-tracked, but a “suspend” was put on the bill by only one US Senator, Republican Tom Cotton.
At the time, US President Donald Trump personally spoke to Cotton about his opposition to the bill.
Now, with a new US administration headed by President Joe Biden who doesn’t shy away from talking about his Irish roots, there is new hope that visas can be issued.
Coveney said The newspaper: “I had a detailed discussion with Senator Dick Durban on the issue of E3, he is a co-sponsor of the bill which has been passed twice by the House, but not by the Senate.
“We are determined that the Irish will have a way to travel and work in the United States and we have a lot of friends in Washington who want the same. We continue to find ways to help undocumented migrants living in the United States.