Irish Citizens Could Soon Join the 10,500 Australian E-3 Visa Programme

Congressman Richard Neal hopes Irish citizens could soon join Australian citizens in accessing one of 10,500 E-3 visas available annually. At present, accessing such visas requires holding a qualifying job offer.

Neal is working closely with Senators Dick Durbin and Pat Toomey to reintroduce legislation for Irish citizens’ access. We’ll explore what an E-3 visa entails, who could qualify, and the process that needs to take place.

What is an E3 Visa?

The E-3 Visa was initially created for Australian nationals. Each year there are 10,000 of these work visas available but typically only about 5,000 are actually applied for and used by Australian citizens. If Congressman Richard Neal’s Bill passes both houses of Congress it would allow Irish nationals to apply for these unused E-3 Visas and work legally in America!

The Bill, sponsored by both parties in both houses of Congress, is known as “The E-3 Visa for Ireland Act” (H.R. 2877) and would amend current law to include Ireland where Australia currently appears on E-3 Visa eligibility lists.

The E-3 visa is for individuals coming to the US specifically to perform services in a specialty occupation. Such occupations require applying highly specialized knowledge theoretically and practically when performing duties, thus qualifying as a “specialized occupation”. A qualifying job offer must also exist and you must possess at least a bachelor’s degree or higher related to your field of expertise – renewable every two years with additional two year extensions possible for spouses of E-3 holders.

Who is Eligible for an E3 Visa?

The E3 visa programme was initiated as part of a trade deal between Australia and the US in 2005, making available to Australian citizens working specialty/professional jobs in the US, 10,500 E3 visas each year for Australians who work here; usually around half are used annually by Australians alone. Recently a bipartisan bill was proposed in Congress that would expand this programme to also cover Ireland thus making living and working there easier for Irish nationals.

An E3 visa provides numerous advantages to those who qualify, including:

Direct Application. Unlike most work visas, E3 does not require employers to file an I-129 petition with USCIS before directly applying to their Embassy for approval. Processing Time. In most cases, Visas should be approved within five to seven business days after receiving your application from Embassy. Also, switching Employers or Switching Work Visa (O-1 Visas etc). is made simpler through this route.

To be eligible for an E3 visa in the US, one must hold both a job offer and bachelor’s degree in their field of expertise from a US employer. Furthermore, you must demonstrate strong ties to their home country through family ties or assets owned there.

How Long is an E3 Visa Valid?

If you are granted an E3 visa for Ireland, it will only last for a specific amount of time. To extend it further, simply submit a request with the visa office that issued your visa and demonstrate strong ties back home such as family obligations, work, or education as well as having enough funds available to support yourself during your time spent there.

If your visa application is denied, a letter will explain why. In addition to providing details, this letter also allows for you to appeal the decision within two months.

Current legislation stipulates 10,500 E-3 visas annually are made available for Australian citizens only; however, a bill has been submitted to both Houses that would extend eligibility of these visas to Irish nationals as well.

Congressman Richard Neal from Massachusetts introduced this legislation. As chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, Neal wrote the original diversity visa program legislation while serving in Congress. If passed, this bipartisan effort stands a good chance of passing, providing Irish nationals an attractive work visa option in America.

What is the E3 Visa Process Like?

The E-3 visa process is straightforward. Simply submit an application to USCIS for review, and once approved you’ll be able to work legally in the U.S. under your E-3 visa. Furthermore, E-3 holders can bring spouses and children along – spouses can begin working immediately upon entry without needing separate employment authorization documents (EADs) while children qualify as “employment authorized incident to status.”

E-3 visa requirements center around having an actual job offer in a specialty occupation and meeting all academic and occupational criteria for that role, along with showing your salary will meet prevailing wage standards in your specialty occupation.

Irish citizens looking for employment opportunities in the US should seize this chance! Our Managing Attorney Fiona has long championed for an E-3 visa and hopes it will pass soon – follow her on Twitter or Instagram to keep informed!