A heightened effort was underway in the U.S. Senate Tuesday to pass a bill that would provide 10,000 E3 visas to Ireland on an annual basis.
The bill, S.1983, or the Irish E3 reciprocal visa bill, was virtually identical to an earlier provision drawn up by Senator Charles Schumer and co-sponsored by fellow Democrats John Leahy and Dick Durbin – save for one key provision.
The revised bill leaves aside a waiver provision that would have allowed undocumented Irish in the U.S. to apply for an E3, a two-year renewable working visa that allows fort family members to join the visa holder in the U.S.
Capitol Hill sources indicated that the issue of the undocumented would be tackled separately and the focus now was on a so-called “hotline” passage of S.1983. This would mean bypassing the usual committee and floor vote procedures and ensuring virtual immediate approval of the measure, this assuming no objections.
The bill now mirrors an Irish E3 measure drawn up by Senator Scott Brown, the Massachusetts Republican who introduced his bill before Christmas, and just after the initial Schumer/Leahy/Durbin bill was unveiled.
As well as its lining up with Brown’s bill, S.1983 is being attached to the previously approved Republican-backed House bill that allows for a reapportionment of annual green cards resulting in faster track legalization for certain nationalities.
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Sources told the Echo that the support of all 53 Democratic senators was assured for S.1983 and it was hoped that at least seven Republicans, including Senator Brown, would now feel able to support the measure. One potential blocker is Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) but sources suggested that Grassley might be persuaded to drop any objection because S.1983 is as much a GOP bill as a Democratic one.