The popular J1 12-month work experience program for Irish graduates has been extended for two more years until 2016 IrishCentral has learned.

The program, which Irish graduates have applied for in large numbers, has been extended by the US State Department after discussions with the Irish Embassy. Up to 1,000 a year apply.

The pilot program is set to expire in October 2014, after five years, and the Irish Embassy has also been told that discussion on the visa and how it could be improved will also take place.

The graduate J1 visa is different to the student one which sees undergrads come to the US for summer long working vacations.

The Irish government and the US State Department put the J1 graduate visa together in 2008 after major efforts by the Irish side to make America more open. It is a reciprocal arrangement.

To qualify an applicant had to:

- Be a citizen of Ireland.

- Be a bona fide post-secondary college/university

- Provide proof of sufficient financial resources, prior to the issuance of a Form DS-2019, to support themselves throughout their exchange visitor program and for their return home.