'Irish students are welcome in America', says ambassador
Irish J1 students continue to be hugely valued in the US, despite changes to the J1 visa programme, according to the US Ambassador to Ireland.
Kevin O'Malley was speaking at a Usit jobs fair yesterday, where hundreds of young Irish students hoped to secure summer work in the States.
Following changes to the programme by the US embassy last November, this is the first year students must produce evidence of a prearranged job before they travel.
Hundreds of students from across the country gathered at Dublin's Convention Centre to meet potential US employers.
Mr O'Malley said Americans "love having the Irish students come", despite some US media outlets that reported on the J1 in a negative manner.
"We are very happy with the J1 programme. We like to have the best and the brightest from Ireland come and visit us and work in our companies, play on our beaches and travel.
"We love that, so it's very important to us that this programme continues, and that Irish students have a chance to come and explore the United States."
Jennifer Lynch (22) travelled from Cork hoping to secure a job in a New York bike-rental company.
"It's a rite of passage - my sisters have done it.
"I've been to America before and done exchange work and loved it," she told the Herald.
Wexford student William Leacy (23) hopes to travel on a J1 for the fourth time.
"My girlfriend is American, so that's why I'm going. The new rules will help because everything will be set up before you go."