Close-up of US visa on passport.
Image: © nd700/

Irish workers could access thousands of US visas each year if new bill passes

10 Mar 2020

A bill is being brought to the US Senate which could allow Irish citizens access to thousands of E3 visas every year.

A new bill with the potential to give Irish workers access to thousands of US visas each year has been passed by the US House of Representatives and will now move forward to be voted on by the US Senate.

The bill proposes adding Ireland to the E3 visa programme, a two-year visa for applicants in a speciality occupation that is currently only available to Australian citizens. The visa also allows spouses of recipients to work in the US, but this does not extend to their children.

Successful applicants to the programme must meet certain criteria, including being employed in a speciality occupation, having an authentic employment offer in the US, and meeting the required education or qualification credentials.

A specialty occupation for the E3 visa, according to Visa Guide World, is any profession that requires higher education qualifications including a bachelor’s, master’s or PhD.

According to the guide, the types of workers who could apply for an E3 visa include business managers, engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, medical practitioners and arts-related employees, among others. E3 visas can be renewed indefinitely after two years.

A ‘reciprocal agreement’ with the US

There are currently more than 10,500 E3 visas available to people from Australia each year, according to RTÉ, of which around half are taken up. The new bill proposes that the unused visas could be allocated to Irish citizens.

RTÉ reported that the Irish Government is believed to be working on a “reciprocal agreement” with the US that would pare back existing restrictions for US citizens who wish to retire in Ireland.

Through these efforts, which would also allow people from the US to work in Ireland on a similar basis, the Government hopes to boost the bill’s chances of passing.

A previous version of the bill was blocked in 2018 by the US Senate, after passing through the House of Representatives, because it failed to acquire unanimous support.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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