Gilmore to lobby Clinton on US visas
Yvonne Coyle, from Glasnevin, Co Dublin, dances with one of the fiddling foxes during a ceili in St Stephen's Green in the capital yesterday. Robbie Reynolds/CPR
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore will lobby US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a bilateral deal on work visas for Irish immigrants when they meet in Washington tomorrow.
The Labour leader has admitted that comprehensive immigration reform in the US is "on the back-burner" for now, but said he intended to pursue other options for Irish people who wished to work in the US.
Mr Gilmore, who is also Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, met with the Irish Lobby for Immigrant Reform and other immigrant groups at the Irish Consulate in New York yesterday. He will review the city's St Patrick's Day parade today, before travelling to the US capital for a Friday meeting with Mrs Clinton.
He said it was his intention to pursue a bilateral treaty similar to the E3 scheme currently open only to Australians.
The specialty E3 work visa, introduced by President George W Bush in 2005, gives 10,500 work visas per annum to Australians.
The visa requires the sponsorship of a US employer, but is preferable to the H1B visa used by thousands of Irish workers, as it includes the right to work for spouses.
Spouses and children are not counted in the quota and don't need to be Australian citizens. The E3 visa lasts for two years and it can be renewed indefinitely.
"That's something we intend to do," said Mr Gilmore when asked about the idea of pursuing the E3 visa, "and we will work with the Irish-American organisations in progressing that."