Job pre-placement has been a policy of the US State Department for students coming from non-VWP countries for years. However, such requirements have not existed for VWP countries until recently.
The US sponsor organisations have come together and imposed a pre-placement requirement for VWP countries as students have previously been arriving to the US without employment or housing and were facing difficulty securing a viable job once in the country, which in turn has had a negative impact on their overall experience.
The rationale underpinning the regulatory change is primarily to ensure students are better prepared to succeed while in the US by having employment prior to entry and as a result they will gain a quality cultural experience; the fundamental purpose of the J-1 visa programme.
Over the past few months there have been mixed reports from industry stakeholders that inbound J-1 arrivals into the US will decline this year due to the new regulations, as many students have decided they do not want to go through the process of securing a job prior to departure, or have not accounted for the the time it takes to find a job.
That said however, WYSE Travel Confederation has consulted a number of members who are leading J-1 sponsors in the US and feedback suggests that they are confident that these requirements will raise the cultural exchange element and attract students to the US who are better prepared and geared up for a successful and enriching experience; ultimately creating a long-term, successful and importantly sustainable programme.
*Citizen or National of VWP Designated Country
Citizens or nationals of the following 38 countries are currently eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP, unless citizens of one of these countries are also a national of Iraq, Iran, Syria, or Sudan.
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
Read more about the topic here: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/irishvoice/Numbers-of-Irish-J1-visa-students-visiting-America-expected-to-drop.html