Irish citizens to be granted thousands of US visas

Aine O'Boyle

Irish citizens are being granted access to thousands of US work visas after the introduction of a new bill in the US Senate.

The US Senate is currently working to secure a bill that will grant Irish citizens the right to access thousands of US visas every year.

Currently, the E-3 visa exists only for Australian citizens with a cap of 10,500 visas available every year.

With Australia never reaching its cap on the E-3 visas, it leaves up to 5,000 visas per year, which are currently being proposed to be given to Irish citizens who wish to apply to work and live in the States.

The Australian government in Canberra initially had concerns regards the bill and the possible detrimental effect it may have on their own citizens, but have since decided to work alongside the Irish Embassy to secure improvements to the current scheme.

The bill will not be passed into law until it receives unanimous support from US senators.

As it currently stands, three senators remain undecided on the bill, with efforts being made to persuade them to agree with the implementation of the bill so that matters can further proceed.

The vote on the bill was put on hold whilst Washington DC focused on memorials for the late George Bush.

The E-3 visas last for two years but can be extended indefinitely. They also allow for the spouses of the visa recipients to work in the US, but not their children.

In an effort to secure access to these visas for Irish citizens, earlier this year the Irish government eased off on restrictions on US citizens retiring to Ireland.

Those that wish to qualify for the E-3 visa will be required to hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in a specific field. They must also acquire sponsorship from an employer in the US.

According to immigration lawyer Fiona McEntee “Irish candidates are really attractive to American companies. It’s a really well-educated workforce and I find that employers will be willing to sponsor people if they find the right candidates.”

At present, the visa that most Irish people apply for to work in the US is the H-1B visa, of which also requires sponsorship by a US employer.

“It is my ardent hope that in addition to creating future flow Irish immigration to the USA that many undocumented Irish will also qualify for this scheme,” said Independent Senator, Billy Lawless.

Aine O’Boyle

Image credit: Alison Clair