Visa deal allows 20,000 to work in US
ABOUT 20,000 Irish school leavers will be able to live and work in the US for a year under a new visa deal signed yesterday.
Following months of negotiations, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin yesterday signed off on the new J visas in Washington. The pact between the Irish and US governments is billed as one of the most significant developments of its kind in two decades.
The Working Holiday Agreement, known as a J visa, will also allow up to 5,000 US citizens to work and live in Ireland for 12 months.
Around 13,000 Irish people participated in a similar arrangement with Australia last year.
Mr Martin said Irish citizens with a secondary-school education or trade would be able to apply for the visas by the end of this year.
The one-year visas will operate alongside the existing summer J1 programme which enables students to work in the US for three months.
He insisted it would not result in a "brain drain" because previous visa deals to Australia had shown that Irish citizens generally return home en masse.
Meanwhile, Third World campaigners Bono and Bob Geldof will today urge the Taoiseach to make Ireland a world leader in tackling poverty and dealing with the global food crisis.
A major report by the Hunger Task Force, which was established by the government as part of UN efforts to halve poverty and hunger by 2015, is expected to recommend that a 'Hunger Envoy' is appointed to ensure that Ireland's foreign aid and foreign aid policies are implemented worldwide.
The report will be presented by Bono, alongside other members of the task force group, to Taoiseach Brian Cowen, General Secretary of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon and Mr Martin, at the UN's headquarters in New York this morning.