Travel company USIT – which arranges J1 visas for thousands of Irish students every year – has said it is “not in a position” to refund those who have paid to travel with the company.
In an email to J1 visa customers, USIT said: “Unfortunately, due to the insolvency of USIT, the Joint Provisional Liquidators are not in a position to pay any refunds to any category of customer or client.”
Last month, the Irish Times reported that the parent company of USIT, Kinlay Group, had gone into provisional liquidation due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic.
Some 3,000 students had paid deposits to USIT to travel to the USA this summer on a J1 visa.
The four companies owned by Kinlay Group owed €1.2m to pre-booking creditors. Restrictions placed on international travel in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak has led to many customers cancelling their bookings, as well as a collapse of new bookings.
Before the firm went into liquidation, USIT employed 76 people between its offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick.
In addition to USIT, a language school owned by Kinlay Group, The Language Studio, also ceased trading last month. More than 100 jobs have been lost as a result.
Last month, Ireland’s ambassador to the US, Daniel Mulhall, urged those currently travelling in the US on J1 visas to return home. There have been over 460,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US.
Over 3,000 people participated in the J1 programme in 2019.