After recent failed attempts made to allow access to US E3 visas for citizens of Ireland, a Democratic Congressman has criticized the lack of legal US immigration options for Irish nationals. Congressman Brendan Boyle said he was ‘saddened’ by the lack of Irish emigration to the United States.
Boyle, the Congress representative for Philadelphia, is now urging the Biden administration to reform US immigration rules to allow for increased emigration from Ireland to the US. He said: “It saddens me that so many Irish choose Australia or Canada or elsewhere because it's just so difficult to get into the US.”
“I think it’s a loss for them, but it’s also a loss for the United States,” Boyle added.
E3 visa route
The Philadelphia Congressman said that he is ‘working hard’ to find a legal pathway to US entry for Irish citizens and has plans to enable access to the E3 visa, which is currently reserved for nationals of Australia.
Boyle believes that access to the E3 visa program would help thousands of Irish immigrants to enter the US legally every year.
Currently, the program only allows 10,500 Australians into the US to work in speciality occupations as an alternative to the more bureaucratic H1B visa. However, it’s understood that only around 50% of E3 visas are used by Australians.
In the past, Boyle has campaigned for Irish nationals to be given access to the remaining E3 visa allocation.
He said: “What many of us on the Hill want to do is give Ireland access to the unused visas. That would go a long way to resolving the problem and I am hopeful that we can get that passed.”
In 2018, Boyle co-sponsored a Bill presented by Richard Neal to expand the E3 visa program to Ireland. While the Bill was passed in the House of Representatives, it didn’t make it past the Senate after a single vote, cast by Tom Cotton – the anti-immigration Senator of Arkansas – stopped the Bill from becoming law.
However, Mr Boyle remains hopeful that if the Bill is introduced again it will pass. “Democrats controlling the Senate for the first time since 2014 will make things easier,” Boyle said.
“It doesn’t eliminate the problem because of the antiquated and goofy rules of the Senate, but it does make things easier,” Boyle said.
According to Mr Boyle, a thriving Irish economy combined with a lack of a legal pathway into the US has almost destroyed Irish immigration. He even pointed to the fact that he is the only Congress member with an Irish-born parent.
“My father came in the 1970s and I’m the only member of Congress with an Irish parent. That’s something I’m both proud of and something that makes me mad as there is so little Irish representation in the United States today,” Boyle said.
“Part of that is a result of the Irish economy being so strong, that’s obviously a good reason. But the negative part is that the US has almost entirely closed its doors to people from Ireland. Given how much the Irish over the centuries have given to the United States, I just think it's wrong,” Boyle added.
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