HomeEntertainmentFurther effort to add Ireland to E-3 visa programme in US

Further effort to add Ireland to E-3 visa programme in US


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Two US congressmen have reintroduced bipartisan legislation to add Ireland to the E-3 visa programme.

If successful the change could make thousands of US work visas available to Irish applicants.

Democratic Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal and Republican Congressman Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, who are sponsoring the bill, are Co-Chairs of the Friends of Ireland Caucus on Capitol Hill.

Two previous attempts to pass the legislation failed, one of them by a single vote in the US Senate.

The E-3 program – introduced in 2005 as part of the US–Australian trade agreement – has made 10,500 visas available to skilled Australian nationals annually. However, Australians have only used roughly half of the available visas during the past decade.

The Neal-Kelly bill would enable qualified Irish workers to access the unused Australian E-3 visas going forward.

E-3 visas are limited to professionals visiting the United States to perform services in “specialty occupations” in a confirmed job from a US employer.

Richard Neal (L) and Mike Kelly (R) meet with US President Joe Biden, former taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson at Capitol Hill last year

Under the agreement reached with the Australians, the applicant must have a university degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the United States.

The E-3 visa allows the holder to stay in America for two years with an option to renew.

It is expected the Irish Government would introduce similar legislation to allow more Americans to work in Ireland.

In a statement Congressman Neal said: “For the last 100 years, the United States and Ireland have maintained a strong relationship rooted in our shared democratic values.

“The E-3 visas, combined with these reciprocal arrangements, would further strengthen that relationship, providing the welcome and long overdue movement of citizens between Ireland and the United States in both directions.”

“The United States and Ireland have stood by one another for the last century. This legislation reaffirms that connection, creating significant opportunities for our two nations.” the democratic congressman added.

Mr Kelly said there needed to be recognition given for the unique relationship between the two nations.

“It’s vital that we recognise the numerous contributions Irish-Americans have made to the educational, political, and cultural life of America.”

The US is holding a general election in November, in which all the seats in the House of Representatives and one third of the Seats in the US Senate will be up for election, as well as the presidential election.

Immigration control is cited by opinion pollsters as one of the top concerns among US voters.

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