A leading immigration attorney and Irish activist  John Philip Foley, says the Irish government and the Irish American community should push for Ireland to receive the unused visas from the E 3 program between Australia and the US. He was speaking to the Boston Irish Reporter.

The E 3 visa deal between Australia and the US is 10,000 visas a year, but they are different than green cards and are considered non immigrant visas .

However,  the qualified person can work and keep renewing the visa as can his/her spouse indefinitely.

 Up to 7,000, however, are currently unclaimed every year by Australians leaving them  unused. Foley thinks a simple amendment to the law could be to the advantage of Irish citizens. Given Ireland’s recent economic bust he beleives now is the time to start helping young Irish who will be forced to leave.

The E 3 visas were signed into legislation by President George W Bush in 2005.

 Australian citizens with university degrees or the equivalent trade certification are entitled to apply for an E-3 visa.

 “An E-3 visa is similar in many respects to the H1B visa, but one important difference is that spouses of E-3 visa holders may work in the United States without restrictions,” Foley says. “The E-3 visa is also renewable on an indefinite basis every two years and it could lead to Legal Permanent Residency (also known as a Green card) and eventually to naturalized U S citizenship.”
Up to 7,000 visas a year from the E 3 progam go unclaimed. INS figures show just 1918 new E-3 visas in 2006, 2572 new and six returning visas in 2007, 2,961 new and 1,568 returning in FY 2008; and 2,191 new and 1,421 returning in 2009.

With a small  change in the law, Foley told the Boston Irish Reporter  some of those unused
visas could be obtained by Irish nationals seeking to relocate to America.

Foley says there’s little chance comprehensive immigration  reform will be on the political agenda anytime soon given the new make up of the House.

“But that doesn’t mean the Irish should stand still,” Foley says. “Irish lawmakers should be pushing for E-3-like visas. E-3 visas wouldn’t help the undocumented overstay already here but they could help those in Ireland looking for work and a legal life in the United States. … It is a visa distribution plan the Irish should get in on.”