Efforts have been renewed by the U.S. House of Representatives to add Ireland to the E-3 visa program.


The Irish E-3 visa has been long advocated for and, in fact, our Managing Attorney, Fiona McEntee, has been involved in these efforts for years, including advising many members of the Irish government on this option and being a regular media commentator on the Irish E-3 visa. Our two McEntee Law partners – sister and brother, Fiona and Ray McEntee – are originally from Dublin, so the Irish E-3 visa is near and dear to our hearts.


Those interested in the Irish E-3 visa may recall that a previous effort had passed unanimously in the House but ultimately failed as it was blocked by one lone objection from Senator Tom Cotton in December 2018. A House and Senate bill was also introduced a few years ago but didn’t get far.


This renewed effort involves not one but two bipartisan bills. The first was introduced by Democratic Congressman Richard Neal and Republican Congressman Mike Kelly, H.R.8392. The second has been introduced by Republican Congressman Michael Lawler and Democratic Congressman Kevin Mullin, H.R.8406.

Said Congressman Neal:


“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.”

While remaining cautiously optimistic about the Irish E-3 visa passing, let’s break down what the E-3 visa is, who would qualify, what the application process would be like, and more.


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What is the E-3 visa?


The E-3 visa program was originally introduced in 2005 as part of a trade deal between the U.S. and Australia. It allows Australians to come to the U.S. to work for U.S. employers in specialty/professional positions.


How many E-3 visas are available each year?


There are 10,500 E-3 visas available each fiscal year for Australians. Typically, Australians only ever use approximately 5,000 of these E-3 visas per year.


The proposed bills before the House would allow Irish citizens to use the surplus E-3 visas from the prior year. This is important because it means that Ireland would never take away any E-3 visas from Australia – only the unused E-3 visas from the prior year would be available to Irish citizens.


Who is eligible for an E-3 visa?


To be eligible for the E-3 visa at present you must:


  • Be an Australian citizen
  • Have a U.S. employer for a job that is considered a “specialty occupation,” i.e., requires a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in a specific field
  • Ensure the job will pay you the higher of the prevailing wage (determined by the Department of Labor) or the actual wage (wage paid to workers in similar positions)
  • Hold that specific Bachelor’s degree or higher or equivalent in work experience (12 years) **Note: we work with employers and employees to advise them on the wage requirement, specialty occupation definition, requirements, etc.
  • Show an ultimate intent to depart the U.S.


How long is the E-3 visa valid?


The E-3 visa is granted for a period of 2 years initially. In theory, the E-3 visa can be renewed indefinitely in 2-year increments, but note that it is still a temporary visa and is not a green card.


Are spouses and children allowed to come with an E-3 visa holder?


Yes, spouses and children under 21 years old are allowed to apply for a dependent E-3 visa.


Another huge benefit to the E-3 visa is that E-3 spouses are able to work immediately on entry and independently from the primary E-3 visa holder! In the past, E-3 spouses needed to apply for a separate employment authorization document (EAD) that took many months, but that is no longer needed, and they are now considered “employment authorized incident to status.”


How will the proposed Irish E-3 visa bill affect Irish citizens?


If the proposed Irish E-3 bill is signed into law, Irish citizens who meet the criteria will be eligible to apply for E-3 visas unused by Australian citizens.


There would potentially be 5,000 E-3 visas available for Irish citizens per year. If it goes ahead, the Irish E-3 visa will be an amazing opportunity for qualifying Irish citizens to move to the U.S. to work on a temporary basis.


How do you apply for an E-3 visa?


Your U.S. employer sponsor would typically work with an immigration attorney to prepare the E-3 case. Our experienced immigration attorneys at McEntee Law are well-versed in the E-3 visa as we have many Australian clients. You can book a consultation with us directly here.


We can also advise you on any other immigration options you may have in the event that the Irish E-3 visa does not become a reality. Call us today at 773-828-9544 to learn more.


Part of an E-3 visa involves filing a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor. Once approved, the certified LCA is added to the rest of the E-3 application.


Eligible individuals can apply directly at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad for the E-3 visa, or if you’re in the U.S. in valid status, it may be possible to file to change status to E-3 here in the U.S.


We highly recommend that all E-3 visa applicants consult with an experienced attorney to get advice on filing strategy and to prepare for any Embassy/Consulate interview.


What needs to happen for the Irish E-3 visa to be a reality?


To become law, the proposed Irish E-3 visa bills would need to pass in both the House and the Senate. They would then reach President Biden’s desk for signature. Given President Biden’s connection to his ancestral home, we hope he would welcome the bill with open arms.


As always, we remain cautiously optimistic that the Irish E-3 visa will become a reality, but unfortunately, we don’t know when that will happen. We’ve received frequent questions about the timing of this, but unfortunately, there is no clear timeline for when the Irish E-3 visa could pass and be signed into law.


Where do I get news on the E-3 visa?


To keep up to date on the developments with the Irish E-3 visa, follow McEntee Law Group on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and X, and sign up for our newsletter.


The House Bill H.R.8392 can be followed here.

The House Bill H.R.8406 can be followed here.


You can also follow our Managing Attorney, Fiona, on TikTok, X, and Instagram. Along with many others, Fiona has tirelessly advocated for the Irish E-3 visa for years. Maybe, just maybe, Irish eyes will soon be smiling.



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