The U.S. Embassy is “working hard” to minimize wait times for J1 visa processing and has increased resources to expedite applications, Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney said.
In recent weeks, Irish students have expressed concern that they will not be able to work in the United States this summer due to delays in processing their J1 visa applications.
The J1 program allows Irish students to work and travel in the United States for several months each summer and has been in operation since 1966.
Many students are due to fly to America at the end of this month, but some students said they have not yet received a date for an interview at the embassy, although they have registered with companies that facilitate the program in January.
In response to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD Colm Burke, Mr Coveney said the processing of US visas was solely a matter for US authorities and that his department had no jurisdiction over the service.
“My advice to those wishing to apply for a US visa or visa waiver is to obtain information from the US Embassy Dublin website and engage with them directly on their application,” said he declared.
“Over the past few days, officials from my department have been discussing the matter with the U.S. Embassy, which is working hard to minimize wait times and has recently dedicated additional resources to processing J1 visa applications, which which should lead to a significant increase in the number being treated in the days and weeks to come.
Coveney said the J1 program is a “valuable part” of the construction exchange between the two countries, adding that the state is “eager” to see participant levels return to pre-pandemic levels.
“Ease of travel is key to protecting our strong transatlantic ties, whether in business, study, tourism or maintaining family ties.”
Visa issuance was temporarily suspended in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prior to this, thousands of students took advantage of this opportunity each summer. However, the number of students taking the program has declined in recent years.
In 2013, more than 8,000 students traveled to the United States for summer work under the program, but that number dropped nearly 60% in 2019 to 3,392.