What is the J1 Irish Work & Travel (IWT) Visa?

The J1 IWT visa is a cultural exchange visa that allows students and recent graduates to work and travel within the United States for up to twelve months. Certain eligibility requirements apply.

Am I eligible for the J1 Irish Work & Travel (IWT) Visa?

To be eligible you must be a citizen of Ireland and a currently enrolled or recent graduate of a degree or certificate granting post-secondary institution anywhere outside of the U.S.  Recent graduates must have no more than twelve months between graduation and the program start date. Vocational students pursuing studies at a tertiary level accredited academic institution are not eligible for the program, unless their studies are part of a structured program leading to a degree or other credential recognized as equivalent to Level VI of the Irish Higher Education System.

Will IIIC provide help with finding internships?

Yes, at the Irish International Immigrant Center, our Director of Intern Placements, Megan Carroll, is available to provide assistance with your search for an internship. This assistance will begin when you are awarded your visa.

Do I need to find my own job?

Yes. The job must be related to your field of study. You will be authorized to work anywhere in the United States on this visa. Those seeking work in the Boston area will have access to the Irish International Immigrant Center’s downtown cybercafé, for a small fee, which has job search resource lists and job openings posted.

Must I work in my area of study? 

Yes.  Under no circumstances are you allowed to work in any area which is not related to your study.  Any person found to be breaking that rule has their visa canceled and they are sent home.

What does the $800 fee cover?

The $800 fee to the Irish International Immigrant Center covers your visa sponsorship, processing of your application, support during your time in, and orientation to, your time in the United States, and a 24-hour emergency hotline.

What expenses will I have besides the application fee?

You will have to pay the US $180 United States government SEVIS fee, the US $160 visa application fee (subject to change), your own travel costs, and your living expenses in the United States. You need to have enough money to make your way in the United States for at least 90 days (or until you find employment). Many larger cities in the United States can be expensive, but the experience of participants on past exchange programs has been that wages will enable you to live adequately and cover the cost of shared accommodation, transportation, health insurance, food, clothing, taxes, etc.

Is health insurance required? 

Yes, the U.S. State Department requires that each participant in the program have insurance in effect, which covers them for sickness or accident during their time on the program. The insurance must be obtained and active by the time you enter the United States. The State Department is very specific about what the insurance needs to cover. IIIC has researched insurance plans which meet these requirements and has decided that Gateway USA (www.gatewayconnexions.com) is the plan that best meets the State Department requirements at an affordable cost.

What do I do in case of an emergency during my time in the U.S.?

The IIIC maintains an emergency hotline that is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That number will be given to you upon arrival.

Can I apply for a Social Security number before I arrive?

No, this must be done in person at the Social Security office in the city where you will be residing with appropriate forms of documentation.

How long will it take to get my Social Security number? 

Processing time for Social Security is approximately 2-6 weeks. When you apply, you are given a letter by Social Security acknowledging that you have applied. Most employers would accept this as proof until your number arrives.

How much time do I have to find employment once in the United States?

You will have up to 90 days to find employment. You are authorized to work anywhere in the U.S.

Will my spouse and children be allowed to come with me? 

No, dependents and spouses are not allowed to accompany you on the J1 IWT Visa.

Will I have to pay taxes while in the United States?

Yes, anyone who earns income from a U.S. source must pay federal and state taxes. You will not have to pay Social Security, Medicare (FICA) or the Federal Unemployment tax (FUTA) because you will not be eligible to receive these benefits.

Will I be able to change positions to another employer if things do not work out with my initial job?

Yes. You will have up to 30 days to find new employment if you decide to change jobs.

Can I extend my J1 visa if the company wants me to stay longer than a year?

No, the maximum amount of time for the J1 IWT Visa is twelve months and it cannot be extended.

Will I be eligible for another J1 visa in the future?

As long as you maintain student status or start within twelve months of graduation, you may undertake additional J1 IWT visa programs. You also may be eligible for formal J1 intern or trainee positions. Additional requirements and conditions may apply. Please contact the IIIC to discuss your situation.

Have more questions?

If you still have questions that were not answered here, please contact the Learning Exchange Programs Staff at the IIIC:

Jude Clarke
Program Manager
(001)617.542.7654 ext. 38
j1iwt@iiicenter.org