Whether Irish undocumented who qualify for new work visas under Obama's executive order will be able to travel to Ireland is still unclear.

The background briefing paper refers to hardship cases involving family emergencies which would involve travel back to country of origin.

A form of parole can be offered as has happened with former IRA members in the US who have deferred action around their cases as part of the Irish peace process but who can travel on a form of parole.

The White House briefing statement says “Ensuring that individuals with lawful status can travel to their countries of origin. DHS(Department of Homeland Security) will clarify its guidance to provide greater assurance to individuals with a pending LPR (Lawful permanent residence) application or certain temporary status permission to travel abroad with advance permission (“parole”).

Irish organizations will anxiously await clarification on this background note.

Under current law an undocumented person is hit with a three or ten year ban if they travel back and reapply to come to the US

That seems to be about to change. “We expect to see some expansion of who benefits from the waiver of the three- and 10-year bar,” one senior administration official said.

That appears to imply that discretion can be used as is currently the case in at least one US consulate in Mexico when dealing with agricultural workers where the 3 and ten year bars are not imposed.

But whether the new situation can also lead to a travel document remains an issue to be explained further by the Obama administration.

Ciaran Staunton of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform welcomed the new proposals while expressing concern that immigrants without children are not included in the plan.

“This is a good day but we need to ensure that we continue to fight for those excluded and get clarity on issues such as travel,” he said.

The Irish government has welcomed President Obama’s executive action to give legal working papers to undocumented who have lived in the US at least five years and have American-born children.

Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan stated: "Today represents real progress, albeit with further important steps yet to be achieved. [The Government’s efforts] have been reflected in an outcome that should make a difference to thousands of our undocumented citizens there.

“At the same time, the Government will not become in any way complacent. Some will not benefit from these new arrangements and we will continue to make the case on their behalf.

“In terms of next steps, it is clear to me that on immigration reform, as President Obama himself has indicated, there is no substitute for legislative action by Congress,” the Minister said.

Speaking from Australia, Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan said: “I visited the US during the last fortnight and I was able to engage directly with many of our undocumented and hear how difficult their situations currently are.

“Hopefully these measures will provide new hope for many of them and their families in their quest to regularize their status.

“There is more work to do, but the changes announced overnight represent a good start.”

Senator Mark Daly a long time advocate for the Irish documented in the Irish parliament and senate welcomed the news “This is the most positive news the undocumented Irish have received in years, these steps will allow some of them to finally come out of the shadows and live without the constant fear of deportation. One of the most important things for the Undocumented is the right to come home, many have missed countless Christmases, weddings and very distressingly for many families funerals. I look forward to the further details that will be announced today.

Watch the president's full speech from Thursday here: