Irish people hoping to obtain a visa to work in the USA have received a boost as an Irish diplomat revealed ‘definite progress has been made’ in negotiations.
A deal could also have benefits for US citizens hoping to move to Ireland.
John Deasy is Ireland’s special envoy to the United States. He was in Washington last week and has been negotiating with senior US officials.
It is now hoped an agreement to grant visas to Irish citizens to live and work in the US could be on the horizon.
Mr Deasy said: “We’re dealing with the leadership in both the House and the Senate on this issue from both the Democrat and Republican side.
“Definite progress has been made in the last two or three weeks.”
It follows speculation that Irish citizens could be offered the E3 visa, which is currently available to Australians, with 10,500 people making use of the visa per year.
Any deal between Ireland and the US would need to benefit citizens of both nations.
One of the key elements in the deal would be for the Irish government to make it easier for US citizens to retire in Ireland.
Mr Deasy added: “From the beginning the Taoiseach and I believed that any immigration agreement would require a bilateral arrangement that would benefit both sets of citizens.”
A deal would be a great step forward for Irish-US relations as Ireland has often felt that the US immigration system is unfair on Irish citizens.
It is argued that the relatively low number of visas offered to Irish people is a poor reflection on the impact that Irish people and Irish Americans have had on the history of the US – and the historic link between the two countries.
Irish immigration groups believe that a law change in 1965 was detrimental to citizens of smaller countries such as Ireland.
With around 35 million US citizens claiming Irish heritage, it is hoped that there will be support for changes to the system.
The proposals could be brought forward after next month’s midterm elections and would need support from both sides of the political aisle.
Mr Deasy remained tight lipped about the details of the negations but revealed there was a ‘definite timeline in terms of what we would like to see happen’.
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling