In Dublin, the U.S. Embassy grants thousands of Irish students J-1 summer visas each year. With final figures for 2011 season not yet available, it is expected that large numbers of Irish students will arrive in the coming weeks.
“We have seen an increase down to the fact that the U.S. economy is recovering and there is nothing happening here,” according to Trevor Ryan, operations director with Sayit Travel based in Cork, who says that the majority of their bookings are done online.
Irish students find it more difficult to find employment in bigger cities such as San Diego, San Francisco, Boston and New York, as the job market is so saturated.
“We try to steer students towards coastal resorts such as Montauk, the Jersey Shore and Myrtle Beach as exit surveys show there are more jobs and accommodation, and landlords are more amenable to renting for three months,” Ryan told the Irish Voice.
Peter Mannion, student union president of National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), says that despite the downturn, a large number of students are still very interested in the J-1 summer program.
“Students always get a lot out of the experience, and it is fantastic way to learn about America and how they do business there,” Mannion told the Irish Voice.
Ruán Dillon-McLoughlin, the student union president at the University of Limerick, told the Irish Voice that students are looking at every option available for summer employment.
“Students are finding it more and more difficult financially and they like the opportunity to travel on the J-1,” Dillon-McLoughlin.
However, the biggest barrier to most students is the cost. By the time they factor in additional costs such as visa processing fees, travel insurance and return flights, the average cost amounts to well over $1,000 before they set foot on U.S. soil.
Despite this, Ryan says that many parents see it as a cheaper option to send their sons and daughters to the U.S. in search of employment.
“Departure dates are getting earlier and earlier, with 60% of students out there before the start of June,” added Ryan.