House Unanimously Passes Bill to Extend E-3 Visas to Irish

On November 28, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 7164 to extend E-3 visa eligibility to Irish nationals. The bill was sponsored by Reps. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Richard Neal (D-Mass.).

The proposed legislation would give eligible Irish nationals the opportunity to work in the United States under the nonimmigrant E-3 visa category, previously reserved only for Australian nationals under a trade agreement with the United States. Ireland has proposed a reciprocal work visa specific to U.S. nationals so that those wanting to live and work in Ireland can more easily do so.

In a statement announcing passage of the bill, Rep. Sensenbrenner noted that if it becomes law, Irish applicants outside the United States could apply directly at a U.S. consulate, avoiding lengthy processing times. The visas would be granted for two-year periods (renewable indefinitely), and the spouses of E-3 visa holders would be permitted to apply for employment authorization documents.

Currently, 10,500 E-3 visas are allocated each year; half are used by Australians. The legislation would allow Irish nationals to apply for those visas unused by Australian nationals.

Rep. Sensenbrenner said, "This significant addition to the U.S. immigration system will not only benefit Irish nationals seeking employment in the United States, but also ease restrictions on Americans wanting to live or retire in Ireland." He noted that the proposed legislation "does not increase the number of visas that are authorized in total. It merely allows the Irish nationals to apply for the visas that Australian nationals do not want to use on a year-to-year basis."

To become law, the bill will need to pass the Senate and then be signed by the President.

Rep. Sensenbrenner's statement is at https://sensenbrenner.house.gov/press-releases-statements?ID=CA79DE5C-A5CA-4CA6-A733-81004B7A825C. The text of the bill is at https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hr7164/BILLS-115hr7164eh.pdf.