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Travel advice for J1 students

All you need to know on your J1 adventures.


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life


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This factsheet is for J1 visa holders before they travel. To find out how to apply for a J1, read our 'J1 Visa Program' factsheet.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has recently released some advice and tips for those travelling on a JI visa to America. The factsheet can be found at the Department of Foreign Affairs website and contains the following tips.

Keep your passport safe

Lost and stolen passports are a regular occurrence for JI students. If you lose your passport, you can get replacement travel documentation at your nearest Irish Embassy. However this can be very costly and stressful and can lead to delays.

In case you do need a replacement passport, it’s a good idea to photocopy the first page of your passport and to keep the photocopy in a safe place. This speeds up getting a replacement one. You should keep your passport safe at all times and avoid carrying it in public. If you can, use your driver’s license for identification instead.

Remember that if you travel to Mexico, you will need a passport to re-enter the U.S.

Take enough money

Make sure you bring enough money with you to the U.S. and to take it in the form of cash, credit cards and traveller’s cheques.

Work on your budget before you go; making sure you have enough for rent, rent deposit, food, electricity etc. It is very common for landlords to rent out unfurnished properties in America, so you may need extra money to buy some basic furniture and maybe even beds.

Be prepared for delays also – it could take weeks before you get your social security number (which will allow you to work). Plus, finding a job will take time.

Know the local laws

Things are different over in the U.S. when it comes to certain laws. In particular, public disorder offences (such as public drunkenness) are penalised more severely in the U.S. than in Ireland. Drug use and drug dealing are also considered serious offences.

If you are arrested and/or convicted of a crime, you may not be allowed to return to the U.S. again.  While Irish Embassies and Consulates in the USA will provide you with every assistance if you are arrested, they cannot get you out of jail or help you to avoid a trial.

Keep in touch

Let your family know where you are going and keep in regular contact. Make sure you have a mobile phone that works in America so that they can contact you in case of emergency. Also, make use of free email and IM services. Your friends and family will worry if you do not contact them regularly, so do keep in touch.

Be alert

Be as careful as you would at home i.e. don’t get so drunk that you can’t remember getting home, don’t walk down dark roads alone at night and stay away from people you sense are ‘trouble’. Don’t accept lifts from strangers and try to travel in groups. Be alert for spiked drinks and date rape drugs.

Be careful with alcohol

Know your limit and don’t drink till you are ill. If you do drink to excess, your insurance will not cover an accident. Plus, public disorder offences are punished more severely in the U.S. than in Ireland and you could wind up going to court.

Consular Advice

The Department of Foreign Affairs has Missions in New York, Washington, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Mexico City which provide consular services to Irish citizens. Click here for contact details of all Irish Embassies and Consulates abroad.

The Emigrant Advice Centre in Dublin has issued an advice leaflet for J1 students travelling to the USA this year. It contains further information on obtaining a social security number, accommodation and employment in the USA. Click here to read the leaflet.

Check out the Department of Foreign Affair’s leaflet on What To Do In An Emergency.

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Published Decem­ber 4th2012
Last updated May 30th2018
Tags travel working abroad emigration visas
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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