What to expect if travelling on a J1 visa this summer 

What to expect if travelling on a J1 visa this summer 

With borders reopening and the easing of restrictions, there is already an evident 'confidence' in young people to travel again.

It’s a rite of passage for many Irish people and after two years, there has been an influx in the number of students hoping to experience a J1 this summer and get a taste of life in the States.

During the pandemic, about 15,000 Irish students were prevented from travelling to North America. To meet this year's demand, Usit, a specialist in student travel and work abroad, opened applications for J1 visas two months earlier.

With borders reopening and the easing of restrictions, they are already seeing a real “confidence” in people to travel again.

“The confidence is there, the borders are open, and the American employers are really, really hungry to see the return of Irish students. They have missed them for the last two years,” said Usit’s chief marketing officer Lisa Collender.

With many making the most of the return of the J1 this year, here is what can be expected from a post-pandemic J1 experience.


While the typical destinations of Boston, Chicago, New York and San Diego are still popular, people are broadening their horizons this year with locations such as Myrtle Beach, Montauk, Nantucket and Rhode Island.

“The world is their oyster really this year. That’s what we’re saying to people," Ms Collender explained.

"Expand your horizons, have your option one in place but also have your option two so that you’re open to other destinations."

Canada is another popular destination, particularly for the ski season and Usit is expecting a change of habits this year, with more opting to travel for the winter as well as summer.

Other destinations that will be “hot on its heels” this year for young Irish people include Australia and New Zealand, according to Ms Collender.


Employers are “really hungry” to get the Irish students working for them again and are hiring earlier than usual after two years without them.

“It won’t be difficult to secure work is what we’re saying this year,” Ms Collender said.

Employment must be set up and pre-approved before arriving and students should have had a virtual meeting with their employer.

The jobs available to Irish students are across the hospitality sector, as required by the programme. They can work from May 15 to September 15 and travel for a further 30 days after this.

This means students who are are in their final year of university and don’t have an urgent need to return to Ireland can stay well into October as they make the most of their last opportunity to avail of the J1 Visa.


As always, students are encouraged to look at college campuses for accommodation as they come fully furnished, unlike a lot of accommodation in the States, and are empty for the summer holidays.

In particular, those hoping to go to Boston are advised to look at university campuses for accommodation to help alleviate pressure on rental accommodation in the area.

As students need a pre-approved job, they will be able to start work once they arrive, which may help with costs.

Some destinations will supply accommodation alongside employment, but this is mainly in more remote locations.


Through Usit, there are two options varying between €850 and €1,149, depending on whether a student requires assistance in finding a job.

To enter the US, you must prove you have access to $800 and proof of vaccination is also required before entering the States.

Usit is holding a virtual talk on the J1 programme on Monday, February 28, for those interested in learning more. More information is available on usit.ie.

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