Moving to the United States of America

Moving to the United States of America

A guide to living and working in the United States of America, and advice on getting a visa.

The US VISA FOR IRISH CITIZENS is the fourth largest country in the world, and has been the destination of choice for thousands of Irish students.

Living in the USA


The capital city is Washington, DC.


The population of America is approximately 333.2 million (November 2022).


The currency is US dollars (US$), and the exchange rate is 1 Euro = 1 US Dollars (November 2022).


Mostly temperate, but tropical in Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska, semiarid in the great plains west of the Mississippi River, and arid in the Great Basin of the southwest.


The US is a democratic federal republic with two main political parties– Democrat and Republican.

Religion and ethnicity

According to the most recent available data, then most prominent religious groups are Protestant (42%) and Roman Catholic (21%), followed by the unaffiliated (18%) (2022). Other religions (all which are under 2 per cent) include Mormon, Jewish, other Christian, Buddhist and Muslim.

The main ethnic groups in the US are: white (57.8%), Hispanic and Latino (18.7%), black (12.1%), and Asian (5.9%), with other smaller groups such as Amerindian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (2020 US census).

Further information

  • US Census Bureau

Working in the USA

When you arrive in the US VISA FOR ICELAND CITIZENS, you will need to go to the nearest social security office and apply for a social security number and card. You are eligible for both when you have a J-1 visa.


The American working week is usually between 35 and 40 hours. However, over 25 million Americans work more than 49 hours each week (see U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ).


Americans have an average holiday entitlement of 13 days per year, whereas Irish people get an average of 20 days per year. The US does not guarantee paid leave to workers.


The national federal minimum wage is $7.25 (2022), but many states have their own higher minimum wages. The average graduate starting salary is $55,260.


Irish citizens who wish to work in the United States will need to apply for a visa. There are a range of visas depending on the purpose of your travel. Business and leisure trips lasting up to 90 days do not require one. All Irish passport holders must carry a machine-readable passport when travelling to the US.

Non-immigrant visas

Student visas

Before you can apply for a student visa:

  • you have to have been accepted by an educational institute.
  • you have to prove you have the funds to support yourself while in the States.

Types of student visa

F-1 visa is for academic studies. An F-1 student cannot work off-campus at any time during the first year of study (they may work on campus). US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may grant permission for off-campus employment after that. Students may be allowed to stay an extra 60 days at the end of their studies.

M-1 visa is for non-academic or vocational studies. M-1 students may not work, except for temporary employment for practical training. If you get an M-1 visa you may stay an extra 30 days after the completion of your course.

J-1 visa (the Exchange Visitor Visa) is the most popular visa for Irish students. The J-1 visa is for educational and cultural exchange programmes designated by the US Department of State. They are issued to individuals who take part in a wide range of exchange visitor programmes sponsored by schools, businesses, and a variety of organisations and institutions.

They are also issued to people involved in some summer employment programmes, internship programmes for university students, and au pair programmes. In Ireland, USIT oversees the J-1 visa programme for students. You may be eligible for this if:

  • you are a full-time student in a recognised third level college studying for a degree or higher national diploma of at least two years duration.
  • you are returning to college in the autumn.
  • you are a final year student, with proof that you intend to return to Ireland in the autumn, eg for postgraduate study or employment.

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