USIT, the major Irish-based travel company, has warned students planning to work in Chicago for summer 2014 that they are not welcome in the Windy City. However, many of the students are not heeding this “No Irish Need Apply” message.
USIT, which specializes in students' travel needs, including facilitating J-1 travel and work visas, has issued a warning to potential visitors to Chicago. USIT's message is simple - “Don’t go.”
The poor behavior of some J1 students in temporary accommodation and disputes with landlords are also at the heart of the new warning.
In many cities across America misbehavior by Irish students has led to problems with authorities.
However, in documents seen by IrishCentral, the company is selling the J-1 visa program to students, despite their discouraging message on page one of invoices issued this year.
The document states: “USIT advise participants not to travel to Chicago on the J-1 program due to lack of suitable accommodation and potential job offers which may make their experience that more difficult.”
Chicago has long been a favorite J-1 destination for Irish students, who want to get a taste of American culture and a chance to work in a different environment.
USIT was unavailable for comment on the subject when contacted by IrishCentral this week regarding their negative message on Chicago, which is one of their top J-1 destinations listed on their website.
Observers say it raises an important question as to why USIT are accepting huge program fees from Irish students to travel to Chicago, when they are warning against it.
USIT says the costs for the J-1 visa and flights start at $850 (€620) plus an additional program fee of $380 (€279).
An online forum, on Facebook, has already been set up for potential J-1ers heading to Chicago this summer. Entitled ‘J1 Chicago 2014,’ the group already has a membership of over 150 students.
Irish students are being discouraged from going to Chicago by USIT’s warning with many changing routes to San Francisco, New York and Boston. However other students are choosing to deal with different companies that offer a more positive outlook on the Windy City.
Comments on the page include students saying “I was in Chicago last summer, while it wasn’t exactly easy to get accomodation, everyone got sorted. It’s really not any different to other U.S cities, work was plentiful for summer 13.”
Students have been using the Facebook page to express their hope of avoiding USIT and their keenness to deal with those companies that have a positive outlook on housing and jobs for those students eager to spend a summer living and working in Chicago.
A new and up and coming venture called HopThePond.com is proving very popular this year with students. HopThePond.com offers a lower program fee and a more positive view of the links between Ireland and Chicago.
Many seasoned Chicago-based employers have cited USIT’s decision to warn students against traveling to Illinois this summer as disappointing.
Whether or not Irish students set up shop in Chicago next summer in the same numbers as earlier years remains to be seen. USIT's attitude to the Windy City certainly has not helped.
Here’s the HopThePond video promoting summers in Chicago: