From Donegal to the "Big Apple"

Hugh McPartland is in the U.S.A. on a J-1 Work & Travel visa from Donegal Town, Ireland. He is a recent graduate of the Galway Mayor Institute of Technology and holds a bachelors degree in Business Accountancy. Before traveling to the U.S., Hugh found it difficult to find a job in his field of study in Ireland after graduation. Since he had friends who had been on the Irish International Immigrant Center’s (IIIC) sponsoring visa program, he thought he might apply for a wider range of job prospects in addition to gaining “a great opportunity to travel and experience a different working culture.” When describing the application protocol for this program, Hugh mentioned that he found the IIIC staff very easy to deal with and that they “explained the steps of the process very well and were very helpful with any questions I had.”

Hugh had previously been to the New York City on a J-1 summer visa in 2012 so he was somewhat familiar with American culture. However, he felt as if there was more to the “Big Apple” to discover which is why he chose to work in NYC for the IWT internship. He also had friends from the program in 2012 who were working in New York as well and so the decision to remain there for a year “seemed like a natural choice.”

One of Hugh’s favorite things about New York is how metropolitan the city is. “Whether through work or socializing, you get to talk to people from many different cultures and you have an opportunity to learn a lot about them.”

For his internship, Hugh is working in the accounting department of a construction firm. When describing it, Hugh mentioned, “It can be a pretty hectic industry.” He however really enjoys being able to apply what he learned at university. When he first started at his job, he spent a lot of time shadowing other people but as time went on, he is working more independently as he becomes familiar with the industry.

When asked about his experience through this visa program, Hugh stated, “I have no doubt that I gained valuable knowledge and skills that I probably wouldn’t have got back home.”

Hugh also enjoys visiting the many historical landmarks the City has to offer. He has been to Ellis Island, the Museum of Modern Art, and Chinatown to name few. He is also beginning to follow classic American sports like basketball, baseball, and hockey.

Upon the expiration of his visa, Hugh is planning to travel around the States during his grace period before returning home to Ireland.

Hugh urges fellow Irish graduates to apply to this program, saying that “It’s great experience to live and work in a different culture-- no matter what city you go to.”

Immigration News


Q: I have an interview scheduled with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on my application for permanent residence. Assuming the interview goes well, what happens next?

A: In cases where the interview is successful, the USCIS officer has the authority to grant you permanent residence immediately. Your new status will begin on the very same day as the interview, and for most people will be valid for ten years. People applying through a US citizen spouse who have been married for less than two years at the time of approval receive “conditional permanent residence” that is valid for two years.

After the interview, the officer will order production of your permanent resident card (I-551, or “green card”). In cases where no interview is required, a notice of a favorable decision will be mailed to the applicant. In both types of cases, the actual card will be mailed to the address on record with USCIS -- so make sure to inform USCIS, not just the Post Office, right away if you change your address. The easiest way to report your change of address is online at

New permanent residents should be aware of the following:

(1) “Conditional” permanent residents need to petition to have the conditions removed before the two-year green card expires. Petitions must be filed within the 90-day period preceding the expiration date. Once the petition is approved, the applicant will receive a new green card valid for 10 years.

(2) Once conditional permanent residents have their conditions removed, they are eligible to become naturalized US citizens three years after the date that their first application for permanent residence was approved. Naturalization applications may be filed as early as 90 days before the end of this three-year period.

(3) With certain exceptions (involving military service, for example), all other green card holders are eligible to become naturalized US citizens five years after the grant of permanent residence. Again, naturalization applications may be filed as early as 90 days before the five years have expired.

Remember that eligibility for US citizenship involves other criteria in addition to the length of permanent residence – good moral character, English language proficiency, physical presence in the US, etc.

IIIC can advise you on your eligibility for permanent residence or naturalization at one of our weekly legal clinics. You can find out IIIC’s clinic schedule by calling (617) 542-7654 or by visiting

Disclaimer: These articles are published to inform generally, not to provide advice in specific cases. Immigration laws are subject to change, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the US Department of State frequently amend regulations and alter processing and filing procedures. For legal advice, seek the assistance of IIIC immigration legal staff.

Health and Wellness

Matters of Substance

Celebrating Recovery in our Families

Addiction services all over the state have seen an increase in calls from parents, grandparents, and caregivers of children who have loved ones living with alcohol/drug addiction. The Governor, the Mayor’s office, and other leaders are responding to this ever-increasing crisis. We here at the center hear from families who all want to know how best to help the young person in their care who has been impacted by the substance abuse of a parent/caregiver. No one wants to believe that children are impacted but the research, and our own work with families, clearly indicates that they are very much affected. The great news is though that by giving our children some clear messages and allowing them to chat about their feelings about this “taboo” or forbidden topic in their families, recovery for the whole family is possible – even if the loved one, who remains ill with addiction, does not recover!

So what messages can we share with the child impacted by a loved one’s addiction?

Sharing your feelings is not being mean or disloyal to your family.

When you talk to someone, you trust you begin to feel better and feel less alone. When you live with alcoholic/drug addicted parents, feeling afraid and alone is normal. It is confusing to hate the disease of alcoholism at the same time that you love your alcoholic parent. Remember to have fun! Sometimes children with alcoholic families worry so much that they forget how to be “just a kid.” Find a way to let yourself have fun. DO NOT ride in a car when the driver has been drinking if you can avoid it. It is not safe. Please help protect your child from having to ride with someone who has been drinking. You have no control over the drinking. You did not make the problem start, and you cannot make it stop – and you can’t “make” anyone use alcohol or drugs!

The National Association of Children of Alcoholics ( shares “THE SEVEN C’s,” a tool to help young people understand that they are not responsible for their parents’ problems. Children need to know that it is not their fault when their parents drink too much or abuse drugs, and that they cannot control their parents’ behavior. They can be shown that there are ways to deal with their parents’ alcoholism or drug use.

I didn’t CAUSE it I can’t CURE it I can’t CONTROL it I can help take CARE of myself by COMMUNICATING my feelings Making healthy CHOICES and CELEBRATING me!

Please join us on Tuesdays in March (24th and 31st) and April (7th and 14th) for our Family Healing Workshop Series with refreshments and resource sharing from 5.30 PM and the workshop begins promptly at 6:00 PM at the Laboure Center (275 West Broadway, South Boston, MA 02127). Childcare is available but YOU MUST RSVP TO CONFIRM. Please call Danielle at the IIIC (617-542-7654 ext.14 or if you have any questions about this series or about recovery in families. Change IS always possible – We can help! (Partnership with Catholic Charities Recovering Connections, RFK Corps, and COASA) If you are affected by the drinking of someone close to you, Al-Anon may be able to help, even if you are in another 12-step program of recovery. Check out this link for more information: or call: (508) 366-0556

Job Opportunity at the IIIC: Irish Outreach Program Coordinator

The IIIC is seeking an Irish Outreach Program Coordinator to reach out and connect with the Irish community, supporting Irish immigrants’ access to IIIC’s legal, wellness and career advancement services, and other support services. In addition, the Irish Outreach Program Coordinator will assist with the day-to-day operations of the J-1 Irish Work and Travel Program.

An understanding of the Irish immigrant community in the Greater Boston area preferred in that the work requires the building of relationships with employers as well as with pubs, restaurants, and health centers that serve the Irish community.

For a full job description and application submission instructions, see our website at (Go to: Get Involved/Career Opportunities)

Quote of the Week

“The word 'March' comes from the Roman 'Martius' and was named after Mars, the god of war.This was originally the first month of the Roman calendar until it was changed to the 'New Style' or Gregorian calendar in 1752, and it is only since then that the new year began on 1st January.”