US immigration may soon make E-3 visa program for professionals available to Irish

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore and US Senator Scott Brown believe "early progress" will be made on securing the Irish E3 visa bill. If passed, the new bill will allow 10,500 highly skilled Irish professional level workers to apply for the US E-3 visa program each year.

Currently, the E-3 visa is available only for Australians. The new bill would allow the Republic of Ireland to be added onto the E-3 visa program. If approved for Ireland, individuals with a professional level job offer could live and work in the U.S for two years and renew the visa an unlimited number of times. E-3 spouses are entitled to work in the United States and may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-765) through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

The bill is also sponsored by US Senator Mark Kirk and is an alternative to the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, a large immigration bill that was sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer. Schumer's bill, which also includes an Irish immigration provision, has been referred to the US Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

"The (Immigration and Nationality) Act put in place bureaucratic hurdles for Irish immigrants and caused Irish immigration numbers to plummet to all-time lows. Despite some legislative relief in the l990s, the Irish continue to face quotas that don't reflect the level of demand. ...My bill would provide a legal pathway for the thousands of Irish that wish to come to this country legally." Brown said.

The E-3 visa has similar requirements to the popular US H-1B visa in that it is designed to be used for staff in specialty occupations that require a high degree of specialized knowledge. Also, at least the equivalent of a US Bachelor's degree or at least twelve years of relevant professional level experience is required.

Currently if you are an Australian national wishing to obtain an E-3 visa, you must meet the following requirements:
  • You are a national of Australia
  • Have an US employer willing to sponsor you
  • Possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials
  • Will fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation
  • Must be coming to the US solely to perform services in a specialty occupation. The specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in a professional field, and at least the attainment of a bachelor's degree or at least twelve years of relevant experience.
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