New York Senator Charles Schumer has gained a great deal of support from the Irish in America since mid-December, when he introduced an Irish visa bill to the Senate.
The bill, co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy and Dick Durbin of Vermont and Illinois, respectively, would permit 10,000 Irish citizens to live and work in the United States per year on a newly proposed E-3 non-immigrant visa. One condition of obtaining such a visa is a secure job offer in the United States in a specialty field. Spouses and children are also granted visas not to be counted in the 10,000 quota. Irish nationals currently living illegally in the United States would be eligible to apply. The movement was introduced as an amendment to immigration legislation passed by the House in November.
Senator Schumer called this a “common sense bill” which was built on with the same structure as a current visa program for Australian nationals. The legislation creating the E-3 visa in 2005 followed the same model as this new Irish visa bill, allowing Australians to work and live in the United States. The visa would be renewable indefinitely; the Australian version is up for renewal every two years.
Senator Schumer commented, “[The bill] has already passed the House with overwhelming bi-partisan support and we hope that we will find similar support in the Senate for this common sense bill that improves the fairness and efficiency of our immigration system, while also including a mutual visa exchange with Ireland, one of America’s steadfast allies.”
Ireland, in the face of the world economic crisis, has clocked staggering emigration numbers in the recent years. In 2010, 65,300 left Ireland in search of jobs, the majority leaving for the US, Australia and other English-speaking countries. This is the highest emigration rate since the 1980s. The new bill would aid much of the Irish who pour into America, most often illegally, to establish themselves as legal residents of the United States.