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H.R. 3012 & the Irish E-3 Visa Provision

February 20, 2012

Efforts to move H.R. 3012 through the Senate were stalled in December when Senator Charles Grassley placed a hold on the bill. Since then, both Senator Charles Schumer (D – New York) and Senator Scott Brown (R – Massachusetts) have worked to broaden the base of support for the bill by including a provision intended to provide 10,500 temporary work visas in the E-3 category available to Irish nationals. This proposal has generated significant press coverage in Massachusetts and across the blogosphere. At least one commentator has noted

Brown is in a high-profile race for re-election in November. Nearly one in four residents in Massachusetts has Irish ancestry — twice the national average.

At present, Senator Brown is described as the “key player” in negotiations which attempt to move H.R. 3012 forward in the Senate.

The E-3 visa is currently available only to nationals from Australia, and it requires the worker to have an offer of employment from a U.S. employer in a “speciality occupation,” which is defined by the regulations as one that requires, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree and the “theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge” in order to perform the job. The E-3 visa is similar in requirements to the H-1B visa.

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