Ireland could get 5,000 US visas if new Bill passes through US Congress

E-3 programme was originally meant for Australians, but it has been undersubscribed

Ireland could benefit from 5,000 US visas if legislation which has been introduced on the floor of the US House of Representatives is passed.

Congressman Richard Neal, a Democrat, and Congressman Mike Kelly, a Republican, who are co-chairs of the Friends of Ireland Caucus, want the E-3 programme expanded to include Ireland.

The E-3 programme, which was introduced in 2005 as part of a US-Australian trade agreement, has made 10,500 visas available to skilled Australian nationals annually.

The visa programme has only been taken up by half of those eligible over the last decade.


The two congressmen envisage that this Bill would enable qualified Irish workers to access the unused Australian E-3 visas going forward. Previous attempts to pass the Bill failed in 2018 and 2022.

E-3 visas are limited to professionals visiting the United States to perform services in “specialty occupations” in a confirmed job from a US employer. The applicant must have a university degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the United States.

The E-3 visa allows the holder to stay in the US for two years with an option to renew.

Congressman Neal said: “For the last 100 years, the United States and Ireland have maintained a strong relationship rooted in our shared democratic values.

“The E-3 visas, combined with these reciprocal arrangements, would further strengthen that relationship, providing the welcome and long overdue movement of citizens between Ireland and the United States in both directions.

“Whether it be our economic ties or our mutual commitment to promote freedom and rules-based international order around the globe, the United States and Ireland have stood by one another for the last century. This legislation reaffirms that connection, creating significant opportunities for our two nations.”

Congressman Kelly said he hoped the Irish-American connection would continue into a new generation through the visa scheme.

“It’s important that we honour their many contributions and continue to support the unique relationship between our shared history and people.”

Congressman Neal and Congressman Kelly have introduced this legislation in two previous Congresses, including the 116th and 117th Congresses. The Bill passed the House during the 116th Congress, but it did not receive a vote in the Senate.

To become law, the proposed Irish E-3 visa Bill would need to pass in both the House and the Senate. It would then reach President Joe Biden’s desk for signature.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times