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When considering or planning a move abroad, it can be hard to know where to even begin. Our Know Before You Go blog series invites organisations that work with Irish communities abroad to share their location-specific expertise to help you on your way.

This post features five tips for Irish citizens moving to the United States on the J-1 Intern / Irish Work and Travel visas, thanks to the Rian J-1 team at Rian Immigrant Center. You can learn more about working holiday visas available to Irish citizens here. 

1. Secure the visa

First, find a J-1 Graduate visa sponsor. Inquire about the Rian J-1 program at Other sponsors can be found on the BridgeUSA website. Your sponsor will work with you to get you prepared for the interview at the embassy and issue your DS-2019.

Check with your sponsor to make sure you have all the right documents to bring to the embassy! You will know the day of your embassy appointment whether you have been approved or denied the visa.

2. Keep all of your important documents in a safe place before and after you travel!

Be sure to keep all of your important documents, including your passport, DS-2019, visa,etc. in a safe place. Make copies too in case any of the documents get lost. If you misplace your passport, having copies of visa related documents will make the process of getting a new passport easier.

3. Once you arrive, make friends with locals

Making friends with locals is essential for experiencing cultural exchange. Join your neighbourhood’s soccer team or book club or head to a trivia night at your local pub to connect with people where you live. Living or renting a room from an American could mean avoiding needing a guarantor or paying multiple months’ rent up front.

4. Do your research on local resources!

Once you select the city you want to travel to, locate your nearest hospital or medical center (just in case!), research neighborhoods you may want to live in, identify restaurants you would like to try, and more.
Accidents can happen throughout your J-1 year so we recommend locating the nearest hospital or medical center to your accommodation. Generally, be sure to also research your city’s health and safety resources and public transit system.

5. Network!

Whether you are looking for an internship or a social circle, we recommend networking to build your community in your new city. Throughout the United States there are Irish networks through Irish community centres and the Irish Consulates in order for you to connect with people in the same situation as you. In each city there are also professional networks, often networks by industry as well, for you to connect with.

About Rian J-1

Rian Immigrant Center is New England’s welcome center for immigrants and refugees. One of the programs that Rian offers is Rian’s J-1 visa program. Rian J-1 sponsors the J-1 Intern and Irish Work and Travel visas. These visas allow university students and graduates to spend 12 months in the United States while completing an internship. While Rian is based in Boston, MA, our J-1 Exchange Visitors spend their year in whichever destination they chose across the United States. For inquiries about our visa program, email or visit our website at Connect with us on Instagram at @rianj_1 and Facebook at Rian J-1.

The Rian J-1 community celebrates Friendsgiving at their offices in Boston, Massachusetts USA.

The Rian J-1 community celebrates Friendsgiving at their offices in Boston, Massachusetts USA.

Many thanks to our colleagues at Rian for these important tips on preparing for a J-1. To start building your network in the United States, you can check out our Irish Diaspora Directory for information on local Irish groups and organisations. For more resources on working holidays around the world open to Irish citizens, go to our working holiday section.

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