Tuesday 6 December 2016

Trump and the J-1 Visa: Is it going to be abolished?

Lawyers in the US predicting that the end is nigh for the J-1 Visa

Published 09/11/2016 | 17:25

Padraig Joyce celebrating Gay Pride in San Francisco
Padraig Joyce celebrating Gay Pride in San Francisco
Paddy Sheehan and friends in Chicago for the Ireland New Zealand game

In August 2015, Donald Trump declared that if he were to be elected as president, the J-1 Visa would be terminated.

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The billionaire businessman described the scheme as a jobs programme for “foreign youths” and wanted it replaced with a scheme which created jobs for young people in US inner cities.

Now president-elect, some lawyers in the US are predicting that Trump will stick to his word.

“I do believe he will abolish the J-1 Visa because in 2015, he unequivocally stated that he was going to revoke it and effectively now he wants to give those jobs to inner city youths,” US Immigration Attorney Caro Kinsella told Independent.ie.

“There have already been restrictions placed on the visa. As of July 2017, students will not be allowed to enter the US unless they have a job already. As it stands, there is only one visa that allows you to come into America without a job, and that is the self-employed visa.”

With offices in both Florida and Dublin, Limerick native Caro says she is not surprised by the outcome of the election.

Paddy Sheehan and friends in Chicago for the Ireland New Zealand game
Paddy Sheehan and friends in Chicago for the Ireland New Zealand game

“Being in the states and listening to people over there, they wanted change. They are tired of the political establishment. He is a great salesman, and he sold a story that the Americans bought,” she said.

When asked about whether Trump will be able to revoke existing visas, she says she can’t see this happening.

“I don’t believe that anyone who is currently in the states under a J-1 visa is going to have that taken from them. Anyone that is over there, is fine, it is the person who will be looking for a visa over the next two years that will be affected.”

To enact the legislation to abolish the visa, Caro says it would be a straight forward process.

“He is legally permitted to do quite a lot because he now has a majority in Congress. If he wants the visa revoked, he can propose this to Congress who will create the bill, and all he has to do is sign it into law.

“You also have the Supreme Court issue. It is the highest court in the US and you have nine judges,, currently there are eight. There is one place open and the president will appoint this. Currently, there are four Republican and 4 Democratic, so when Trump becomes president, he can appoint a Republican Supreme Court Justice.”

Student and youth travel agents, USIT and SAYIT, who organise the J-1 programmes, declined to give a comment.

Meanwhile, Irish graduates who are currently living in the US on J-1 Visa programmes are concerned about what Trump’s election will mean for them.

Paddy Sheehan (26), originally from Limerick, is currently working in Chicago as an engineer on a graduate visa.

“I doubt Trump could void current visas that have already been awarded. It's a shame though that he has plans to abolish the J-1 scheme; it's a great programme with a lot of benefits to Irish people and American employers. Who I really feel sorry for though, is the undocumented Irish who have really made their life here, be a worrying transition for them.

Reacting to the election, Paddy says we have to accept what the American people wanted.

“For me I don't find it disgraceful because at the end of the day it's how the American people voted and it's up to them, what's disgraceful is how people can still find a candidate like him plausible after everything he has said and done.”

Padraig Joyce, an Irish-American who lived in Berkeley, California on a J-1 in 2011, is disappointed by the outcome.

He has been living in San Francisco for the past three years, and admits he is considering moving home.

“I'm not a happy American citizen after the election. I'm angry and upset but mostly I'm shocked. I'm shocked to discover how ignorant the majority of this nation, a world leading country, I've chosen to live in is.

“I still can't believe Trump was allowed to run as a candidate, don't mind actually being elected as the new president. He has offended women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, Muslims and the Hispanic community, just to name a few.

“When I first made the decision to use my dual citizenship and move out to America about 4 years ago, I had an idea it was the best place to be and always about 10 years ahead of the rest of the world.

“Now, I personally feel American history will take a good few steps backwards after this result. Unfortunately, this decision doesn't only affect Americans, It will have a worldwide effect in my opinion.”

Sibéal Ní Cearbhalláin, a master’s student in Dublin, met Trump during the summer of 2013 while working as a hostess in the terrace of his hotel.

“I don’t understand his mindset by saying that he’s abolishing the J-1 visa.

“I’m not sure he’s aware of the number of Irish students who go over and work for him.”

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