Berkeley a popular choice for Irish J1 visa students

Lying 15km across the bay to the north-east of San Francisco, Berkeley is a popular west coast draw for Irish college students on their J1 trip to the US.

Berkeley a popular choice for Irish J1 visa students

California is one of the most popular destinations for Irish students each year, and high demand and numbers travelling meant applications to USIT for the region stopped being taken earlier this summer.

Last year, California hosted 5,124 participants from all countries under the summer work travel category of the J1 visa programme.

As one of nearly 40 visa waiver countries, students from Ireland do not need to have work arranged before applying, but they must secure work within a month of the start date of their DS-2019 work permit.

Berkeley is the home to the University of California’s main campus, and its status as a student city is reflected in its demographic. Two thirds of Berkeley’s 112,580 residents are 49 or younger, according to the US census taken in 2010.

RELATED STORY: Updates: Six Irish victims of Berkeley balcony collapse named.

The UC Berkeley campus counts Oscar-winning actor Gregory Peck, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt; and former chief justice Earl Warren among its alumni.

The proliferation of vacant student accommodation in the summer makes it much easier for visiting Irish to find an affordable apartment in Berkeley compared to expensive real estate market in the more affluent San Francisco.

The Bay Area Rapid Transport system means that San Francisco, and the city of Oakland that lies to Berkeley’s south, are just a train ride away, making the university city a convenient central location from which students can explore the larger Bay area.

Meanwhile, Berkeley itself offers a wide variety of bars and nightclubs.

Yesterday’s tragedy took place at Library Gardens student accommodation on Kittredge St in downtown Berkeley, a five-minute walk from the University campus.

The street lies just off Shattuck Avenue, the main thoroughfare through Berkeley.

The apartment where tragedy struck was one of two in the Library Gardens complex to have a balcony overlooking Kittredge St.

RELATED STORY: Updates: Six Irish victims of Berkeley balcony collapse named.

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