USIT going out of business: What does this mean for my J1?
If you have travel booked with USIT in the coming months, you may be entitled to refunds
The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has had a significant impact on a lot of different industries, and the travel industry is one that has been hit very hard. Due to cancelled plans, requests for refunds, and no new business coming in, many travel companies have been forced to let go of staff or even close their doors.
USIT, a popular travel agency best known for arranging the J1 visa for students to work and travel in the United States for a summer, have announced that they are going into liquidation, which means they are closing the business.
This will affect many people who have booked flights or other services through USIT. If you’re one of these people, here are some steps you can take.
What can I do if I have booked future travel through USIT?
USIT have placed a number of guidelines on the front page of their website for customers who are affected by the closure.
Is my J1 still going ahead?
USIT have said that the ongoing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis and the restrictions on travel to the US mean that it is unlikely that most J1 programmes will go ahead. This includes J1, camp, and soccer programmes. If there are any changes, USIT have said they will contact those who have booked their J1 visa through them.
Can I get a refund for my J1 if I booked through USIT?
According to USIT, if you have a valid flight booking for your J1 (and you have proof of your flight booking), you can fill out a claim form with the Commission for Aviation Regulation.
If you do not have a valid flight booking, you won’t be able to get the refund. If you have paid in full but you haven’t received your flight information, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your name & booking reference and they will confirm the status of your booking.
If you cancelled your J1 already, before USIT closed down, you will not be able to get any money back.
Can I get my deposit back?
If you have paid the deposit for your J1 or other travel with USIT, but have not completed the booking, it is not yet clear what will happen with that deposit. USIT have said that you will be contacted by the provisional liquidator (the company who are dealing with closing down the business) who will let you know if you will be able to get a refund.
Is my visa for Canada/New Zealand/Australia still valid?
If you have received your approval or POE letter (Canada) for the country you have applied to, then this is still valid. Remember, you must enter the country within 12 months of receiving your approval or POE letter in order to activate the visa.
If your visa application is still processing, USIT says they will work to provide you with an update of your status.
Customers who have flights and/or accommodation booked with USIT
If you have flights or accommodation booked with USIT, you will need to contact the airline or the accommodation provider directly to ask if your booking is still valid and if they have been paid for by the travel agent (USIT).
If the booking is still valid
If your booking is valid and paid for, you can continue with your travel plans, once it is safe to start travelling again. If you had planned a trip while travel restrictions are still in place, speak to the airline or accommodation provider about your options for rescheduling your booking.
If the booking is not valid
If you are told that your booking is not valid, or that your accommodation has not been paid for, then you can submit a claim for a refund of these costs through the Commission for Aviation Regulation.
How to submit a claim for your money back
You can submit a claim for the entire trip or just the flights or accommodation, depending on what has been cancelled. You can fill out this form if you have not started your holiday. There is a different form for people who are already abroad. Find out more at aviationreg.ie.
For more information visit USIT.ie