US could cut number of J1 visas by 80%; Warning over summer work changes.
Byline: ABIGAIL O'LEARY
THE numbers of students getting J1 visas could plummet by 80% due to changes to the programme, it was warned yesterday.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said measures being introduced by the US will make it difficult for young people to take up the summer rite of passage.
It has been announced students embarking on Stateside adventures through the programme will now be made to secure jobs in advance.
The planned changes mean anyone hoping to travel to the US next summer on a J1 would have to seek work while still in Ireland.
And with many travellers finding work on a casual basis in bars and restaurants, there are growing worries around a lack of procedure when it comes to finding positions that are often not based on a strict application or interview.
Mr Kenny said there could be a "serious reduction in the number of J1 visas granted to Irish people. Perhaps down by as much as 60-80%".
Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan added: "I am concerned that meeting the requirements of the new rules may prove challenging for many students and this may in turn impact on the number of students participating in the programme."
In the 50 years since the J1 programme was introduced, around 150,000 Irish students have made the journey to experience working life in America during the summer months