The bill wants to see Irish people granted access to surplus American E3 visas

Irish access to the American E3 visa program has again been introduced to Congress by Representative Richard Neal.

Read More: Speaker Pelosi launches new effort to pass Irish work visas bill

As it stands, the E3 visa is an American working visa that is only open to Australian citizens, who are granted some 10,500 annually. However, since the program was first introduced in 2005 as part of a US-Australia trade agreement, only about half of those visas are claimed each year.

Now, Ireland wants access to the surplus E3 visas that Australian citizens do not claim.

In 2018, the bill made its way to the Senate in the US but was narrowly defeated in December when a unanimous decision on the matter could not be reached. Just one senator, Tom Cotton of Arkansas opposed.

On April 30, Democratic Representative Richard Neal, who is head of the Ways and Means Committee and chair of the Friends of Ireland Caucus, reintroduced the bill in the House of Representatives.

Representative Richard Neal

Representative Richard Neal

The bill will need to pass through the House and then get unanimous support from the Senate before being passed on to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.ote.

There is one other scenario where the bill would be attached to a appropriations bill therefore not needing a unanimous vote.

Read More: E3 bill dies thanks to Senator Tom Cotton and incredibly, an Irish journalist Neil Munro

The reintroduction of the bill comes only a short while after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Ireland in April with a delegation of American politicians, and Irish politicians, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, visited Washington, DC in March.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Getty Images)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Getty Images)

John Deasy, special envoy to the US government from Ireland, told The Irish Times: "It was clear from our meetings around St Patrick's Day that both the Republican and Democratic leadership offices want to continue to pursue the E3 Bill.

"Both Speaker Pelosi and President Trump told us they are behind efforts to get this finished and Congressman Neal is one of its driving forces in the House."

Read More: The Irish deserve access to the US through E3 work visas

Michelle O'Neill, vice president of the Irish political party Sinn Féin, says she welcomes the new development:

We very much welcome the news that Congressman Richard Neal has reintroduced the E3 VISA Bill to include Ireland. Richie is a long-time supporter of Ireland and the peace process....His commitment to immigration reform will greatly benefit Irish workers https://t.co/TSUtjvbkz6

— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) May 1, 2019

What do you make of the new E3 visa bill? Let us know in the comments section, below. 

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Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar and Representative Richard Neal photographed during the US delegation visit to Ireland, in April 2019.Getty