Government signs deal with US to extend J1 visa - signing 'not linked to Trump'
The Government has signed a deal with US authorities to extend graduate work visas by three years, just weeks before US president-elect Donald Trump takes office.
The billionaire tycoon has vowed to crack down on immigration and also indicated that J1 visas are to be scrapped.
However, a Foreign Affairs Department spokeswoman rejected any suggestion that the timing of the deal with the US state department was linked to Mr Trump taking office next month, insisting it was signed now because it was due for renewal.
Irish ambassador Anne Anderson used the signing of the deal to extend graduate J1-12 visas to signal that Ireland will be making the case for continuing the J1 summer programme.
Mr Trump's campaign team last year targeted the J1 programme saying it would be "terminated" in favour of a scheme to encourage employers to hire young American people.
In her remarks last night, Ms Anderson said the Irish Government anticipates that there will be "a strong focus on immigration issues" in the new Trump administration.
She predicted the debate will include exchange programmes like the J1.
"Ireland of course will be making its case on the wider issues of immigration reform, but we will also be happy to share our tremendously positive experience of J1 programmes," she said.
Ms Anderson said the Government's "central message" will be that J1 visas are "not just an act of generosity towards young people" but confer "mutual benefit, projecting soft power, and building enduring relationships".
J1-12 visas enable Irish and US citizens to work and travel in each other's country for up to 12 months. Unlike the summer programme, no pre-arranged work placement is required before travelling to the US.