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As Ryan long fingers reform, E-3 bill before House committee

Congressman James Sensenbrenner meeting with Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan during the latter’s recent visit to Washington.

By Ray O’Hanlon

New House Speaker Paul Ryan has indicated that comprehensive immigration reform will not be taken up by Congress in this term.

For the Irish, that leaves H.R. 3730, a far more modest House measure that would allocate two year renewable E-3 visas to Irish applicants not taken up by Australians who enjoy a dedicated annual E-3 allocation.

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The bill has been placed before the House by Rep. James Sensenbrenner who, like Speaker Ryan, is from Wisconsin.

H.R. 3730 is this week before the House Judiciary Committee, said a spokeswoman for Rep. Sensenbrenner.

The bill, according to its language, is intended “to authorize unused visas numbers made available under section 101(a)(15)(E)(iii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to be made available to nationals of Ireland, and for other purposes.”

It additionally states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, visa numbers made available….that were unused by nationals of the Commonwealth of Australia during a fiscal year shall be made available on the same basis in the subsequent fiscal year to nationals of Ireland residing in that country.

As such, the E-3 proposal does not address the circumstances of the many thousands of undocumented Irish living in the United States.

The bill requires of possible future Irish applicants that they would have at least a high school education or its equivalent, (which shall include passage of a high school equivalency examination) or have, “within five years, at least two years of work experience in an occupation classified as Zone 2 or higher by the Bureau of Labor Statistics if the alien is a national of the Republic of Ireland.”

At this point the bill does not have a companion measure in the U.S. Senate, said the spokeswoman for Rep. Sensenbrenner.

Finding a Senate sponsor or sponsors, on the surface, would not appear to be too difficult to accomplish though current relations between the Senate and the House and between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are, to say the least, fraught.

The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013 but the initiative became bogged down in the House.

That Senate bill included a provision for 10,500 E-3 visas specifically dedicated to the Irish that was penned by Senator Charles Schumer.