Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has welcomed the reintroduction of legislation in the US Congress that that would potentially give Irish workers access to thousands of American visas every year. The Sinn Féin TD was speaking after it emerged that US Congressman Richard Neal has reintroduced a Bill that would see Ireland included in the E-3 visa programme.

Every year, more than 10,500 E-3 visas are offered to Australians who want to work in the US, but only around half of them are taken up. Under Congressman Neal’s Bill, Ireland would be able to access the remaining unused visas.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“I very much welcome the news that Congressman Richard Neal has reintroduced an E3 Visa Bill to include Ireland. In December last year I was part of an all party group from the Oireachtas that travelled to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. and lobbied for similar legislation which passed through the House of Representatives but fell in the Senate when it was objected to by just one Senator.

“This new Bill will allow Irish citizens who are educationally qualified, the opportunity to travel to the USA under the E3 programme which is currently only available to Australian citizens. Australians have access to 10,500 of these visas but they have not traditionally taken up their full complement. It is hoped that through this legislation Ireland will now get the spare allocation.

“The legislation will need approval of both Houses of Congress and it will involve a reciprocal arrangement for US citizens that will allow them a similar opportunity to work or engage in educational schemes in Ireland.

“Representative Neal recently visited Ireland as part of a Congressional delegation led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and I personally thanked him for his long support for immigration reform and the undocumented Irish.

“He is a long-time supporter of Ireland and the peace process, and he has always been a strong advocate for Ireland on Capitol Hill.

“His commitment to immigration reform that will greatly benefit Irish citizens is further evidence of that and I look forward to his proposal coming before the US Congress. While this legislation will not directly resolve the issues facing the undocumented in the United States, it will be seen as a win for Ireland and some movement forward on immigration.

“While I welcome this step forward, I believe the Irish Government and others must continue in their combined efforts to encourage and help secure a comprehensive reform policy that is fair and inclusive to all.”