Irish students will be able to travel to the United States on J1 visas this summer following two years of cancelations due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The US Department of State has confirmed the return of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, with a spokesperson telling The Times last week: “Sponsors will soon be accepting applications for this very popular programme."

The US Embassy in Ireland says that before you can apply for a J-1 visa, you must first apply for and be accepted into an exchange visitor program through a designated sponsoring organization. The US Department of State's J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program website provides a list of sponsors and their partnering Irish agencies.

According to the US Embassy in Ireland, the partner agencies that recruit most of the J-1 participants from Ireland are SAYIT, J1 Ireland, Work and Travel, Camp Leaders, USA Summer Camp, USA Summer Jobs, World Wide Cultural Exchange, and USIT.

A spokesperson for Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs welcomed the return of the J1 program, stating that the department is keen to restore the program to pre-pandemic levels. 

"The J1 is a valuable part of building exchange between the US and Ireland, and something which we are keen to see return to pre-pandemic levels.

"Through the J1, thousands of young people have had the opportunity to work and travel in the US, building up valuable connections between the two countries," the spokesperson said in a statement. 

The Dublin-based agency USIT has launched its 2022 program two months early to accommodate the pent-up demand following two lost summers that saw approximately 15,000 students miss out on the chance to work in the US. Its "Take Back Your Summer" campaign, announced on February 2, will center around the J1 visa program. 

The agency will be hosting a J1 information talk later in the month as well as virtual J1 hiring fairs.

USIT CMO Lisa  Collender said that a significant number of students had already signed up for the 2022 J1 program. 

"We are encouraged by the numbers of students across the country that have already signed up for the USIT J1 Work & Travel 2022 program," Collender said.

"Our mission for the J1 this year is to help students in 3rd level colleges to spend a summer working and traveling in the USA. The J1 program has long been a milestone in many young people’s lives, where they not only experience personal growth but also contribute positively to the vital cultural connection between our two nations.

"We know from speaking with American employers that they are eager to see the return of Irish students and so we recommend that anyone wishing to participate in the J1 this year books early to secure jobs in top destinations."