At end of last year we wrote about the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act 2011 which among other things will reduce wait times dramatically for Chinese and Indian nationals who are on long Green Card waiting lists with EB-2 and EB-3 Visa Categories.
However one other part of this legislation which we didn’t cover much is an addition to the E3 visa category. The E3 Visa is a work visa category that is currently exclusive to Australian nationals and has an annual quota of 10,500 per year. For many years, the Irish American groups and the Irish Government and been lobbying various US Congressmen and Senators (particularly those in large Irish ancestry districts and states) to expand the E-3 visa to include Irish nationals.
As a reminder the main facets of the current E3 Visa for Australians include;
– Available to Australian Citizens which means demand is low relative to annual quota
– An Annual Quota of 10,500 (reset every October 1)
– A Partner Visa called E-3D which allows dependent married spouses and minors to accompany E-3 Visa holder
– Spouse E3-D visa allows partner to work (differs from H-4 visa which is partner visa for H-1B that doesn’t allow working)
– Visa holder has to be Australian citizen but spouse does not
– Allows work based on Specialty Occupation and Bachelor’s Degree conditions
– Can be applied for at any time of the year (unlike the H-1B visa)
– Is for 2 years and can be renewed indefinitely (unlike the H-1B visa which is for 3 years but only renewable once)
– Is NOT a dual intent visa unlike the H-1B visa (but it is not technically prohibited to have a concurrent Green Card application)
– Has no filing fees for the employer
Given the E-3 visa annual quota has barely breached 3,000 since its inception in October 2005, it has a lot of capacity available. However one point that has been largely ignored in relation to Irish citizens apart from the obvious pandering for votes by Senators and Congress people around the country with heavy Irish constituencies is that this bill can have a negative on current Irish immigrants in the country.
Irish immigrants currently in the country who may have pending PERM applications (Green Card or Permanent Residency petitions) will actually be disadvantaged by this entire bill passing through Congress. Because of the removal of limitations on all the Chinese and Indian nationals in particular artificially restricted from having too many of the annual quota of Green Cards awarded to them from the various waiting lists, current Irish immigrants on the waiting lists will now have to wait longer.
While the E-3 visa does make it slightly easier to navigate the US Immigration system, it is still difficult as Irish nationals just like with the H-1B visa need a job offer from an eligible US employer for and eligible job type prior to applying for the E-3 visa.