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Saturday 21 September 2019

Law that would open more US visas to Irish looks unlikely

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Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy

A law that would allow Irish workers fresh access to thousands of US visas looks increasingly less likely to be passed by the US Senate.

Every year 10,500 ‘E-3 visas’ are offered to Australians who want to work in the US - but only about half are used.

Ireland wants to be added to the E-3 programme and be able to access the unused visas. This would also assist undocumented Irish workers.

The Government is working on a reciprocal arrangement which would enable Americans to work in Ireland on a similar basis and ease restrictions on US citizens who wish to retire here.

However, in order for Ireland to access the E-3 programme, legislation needs to be passed by the US Congres and so far only the House of Representatives voted in favour of the deal.

In the US Senate, six Republican senators put ‘holds’ on the bill. All of these were lifted in recent days, but another senator has put a hold on the bill.

If the bill doesn’t pass before the weekend a new bill would have to be initiated because the House of Representatives will sit for the first time under new membership in 2019.

Breitbart, one of President Trump’s favourite right-wing news sites, has criticised the bill for potentially taking away jobs from young Americans.

E-3 visas are valid for two years, but may be renewed indefinitely and also allow the spouses of recipients to work in the US.

To qualify, applicants must be employed in a specialty occupation, have a legitimate offer of employment in the US and possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials.

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