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    J-1ers go west as traditional spots lose pull

    Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

    California is the big draw this summer for Irish students working in the US summer on J-1 visas, according to journalist Carole Coleman. She reports on RTÉ that there is a growing trend for students to go to the western state, as numbers fall from the traditional favourites of New York, Boston and New Jersey.

    Bernadette Cashman of Irish Outreach San Diego says that 2,500 J-1 students arrived this summer; the group contacted  employers in advance to and provided orientation for hundreds of the students.

    While many are attracted to the sunny weather and the beaches, the city’s proximity to the Mexican border is another big draw: students who are under 21 can buy drink legally in Mexico. High rents and competition from other European students in many of the traditionally Irish areas are serving as additional disincentives.

    In a similar vein, the student-run Daily Californian carries an article on the Irish students spending the summer in Berkeley. Journalist Sonja Sharp quotes an area employer as saying the city has become “In the past three or four years, Berkeley’s just become a Mecca? for Irish students  A 2005 USIT survey showed that 35% of students wound up in California.

    The RTÉ report mentions that some students are having trouble with the wait for their social security numbers. The Emerald Isle Immigration Center’s Padraig Nolan says that some students in the New York area have been forced into debt and even gone home.

    See the news stories:

    US Embassy encourages J1 applicants

    Monday, February 19th, 2007

    The American Embassy in Dublin is campaigning this year to fight the decline in J1 applicants. Numbers of students applying for the programme have dipped since the September 11 attack, reaching a low point in 2004, when only 4,500 applied, down from figures well over 10,000. In 2005 the figure jumped to 6,800, but was down about 1,000 last year.

    This year, US authorities have loosened restrictions. Final year students can participate this year, even if they are not going on to further study, although they do need proof of other alternatives, such as a job offer.

    USIT is finding more students are choosing to go further afield than the traditional destinations of New York and Boston. The agency also found that over half the students who went through their programme last year had jobs before they arrived, with a third having sorted out accommodation. 90% had found somewhere to stay within two weeks of arrival.

    Full report on the Irish Times website (subscription required).
    More J1 resources at:
    Usit’s J1 website
    Sayit’s J1 website

    J1ers report problems

    Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

    Siobhan Dennehy of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in New York was interviewed on Ryan Tubridy about problems facing this year’s J-1 programme participants as well as the services offered by the EIIC. She noted her belief that the organisations operating the visa programme could be more pro-active in offering advice to the students before their arrival in the US.
    Ryan Tubridy also spoke to a J-1 participant living in Yonkers who spoke of his difficulties in finding a job. He plans on returning home to Ireland after only six weeks because his job search has been fruitless.