The Senate passed an immigration reform bill on Thursday that would give the opportunity for Irish Nationals to work in the U.S. under the non-immigrant visa category of the E-3 Visa, previously reserved for Australian nationals. The non-immigrant visa category currently gives Australian nationals the opportunity to work in the US in 2 year increments, without the opportunity to seek permanent residency.
Specifically, the E-3 visa classification would be open to Irish nationals who have at least a high school education or its equivalent or who have work experience within the last five years in an occupation requiring at least 2 years of training or experience.
This is a significant difference from the E-3 requirements of Australian nationals, who must possess a Bachelors degree (or 12 years of work experience) in a specialty occupation. A position requiring a Bachelors degree is also required under the Australian E-3 visa category.
No changes were made to the E-3 visa requirements of Australian nationals under the text of the Bill nor to the requirement of obtaining an approved Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor.
While the Immigration Reform Bill passed with a strong majority in the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives has indicated that the 844-page Senates Bill will not be passing without opposition from the House majority. In other words, due to other sweeping reforms in the Bill, this has not yet been enacted into law. The Senate Bill does, however, provide a picture of a new opportunity on the horizon for Irish nationals.