Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the measure his Department is taking with regard to potential changes to the J1 visa system in legislation currently being considered in the United States Congress.
Reply from Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: The welfare of the Irish abroad in general, and especially the position of undocumented Irish immigrants in the United States, remains an important priority for the Government. The Government have also attached great importance to providing for future flows of migration between Ireland and the United States through the extension of the so called E3 visa scheme to include Irish citizens. The Government is continuing to follow closely the progress of the Senate bill on comprehensive immigration reform that is currently under consideration and which would address these issues.
The Senate Immigration Reform Bill (S.744) is a very extensive piece of draft US legislation that contains a comprehensive and complex set of reforms across the US immigration system. The Government has already welcomed the inclusion of provisions which would provide a solution for the undocumented Irish and opportunities for future flows of migration between our two countries. However, all of its provisions, including those in relation to the J1 programme, are at the early stage of the legislative process and it is too early to indicate the timing and final shape of any legislation.
The Government greatly values the current provision of the J1 programme and believes it is important that the programme be as accessible as possible and that efforts be made to ensure high levels of uptake. Our Embassy in Washington remains in very close contact with the US Congress and the Administration to ensure that the interests of all Irish citizens are advanced in any immigration legislation that is passed.