Irish J1 students flocking to America looking for work
Students snap up visas as economy in Ireland still in the doldrums
Over the coming weeks, hundreds of Irish J-1 visa students will arrive in the U.S. for what is sure to be a summer of adventure. With the J-1 season about to kick off, many third level students will use their experience as a gauge for possible future immigration.
Speaking to the Irish Voice from his home in Limerick City, Andrew Graham was preparing for his imminent trip to New York. The 22-year-old student said he is using the J-1 program to sample life in America.
A final year construction management student at Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), he reflects that employment prospects in his industry in Ireland are minimal.
“It is hard to get a job in construction, but I am prepared to go anywhere there is work,” he told the Irish Voice.
Graham and his friend Brian Treacy decided to wait until they were over 21 to avail of the J-1 program, which allows visa holders to spend three months in the U.S.
“Myself and Brian are not going for the stereotypical J-1 experience,” he explained. “We want to get a better picture of what life is like.”
For Graham, his journey to the Big Apple is the trip of a lifetime.
“I have always wanted to go there but because of the recession it was not a financial option,” he said.
The two friends plan on hitting up Irish neighborhoods in search of work.
“I think we are aiming for Yonkers at the moment. We know there is a high percentage of Irish living there and Gaelic Park is there.
“We will do anything,” Graham says, “within reason. We just want to pay for our living expenses and have a good time”.
In the middle of his finals at the University of Limerick (UL), Treacy, 22, took a break from studying to speak to the Irish Voice.
New York was an obvious choice for his J-1 experience, having already traveled here four times. The two friends intend to stay with Treacy’s uncle until they can find jobs in a place he describes as the best city in the world.
In preparation, Treacy, a math student, got in touch with various GAA clubs New York and is gearing up to play for Kerry during his time here.
“There is no Limerick team,” he explained.
Treacy says a lot of his fellow students are heading abroad this summer to sample life in the U.S.
“When I went up for my interview in the American Embassy in Dublin, it was all UL students that day,” he said.
“I know 20 students studying business that are going to Ocean City.”
The price of a typical J-1 summer abroad does not come cheap. The average cost of a J-1 visa with flights and insurance included is around $1,300. As well as this, travel agents recommend students have at least a few thousand dollars to use as a buffer while they search for work and accommodation.
“Pretty much all my savings will be used,” Treacy said.
Despite the expense, the two friends are determined to enjoy their time in New York and have already made plans for the summer. The students are already looking forward to Labor Day weekend when they will attend the Electric Zoo music festival in Randall’s Island.
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