Are the Irish entitled to the E-3 Visa?

Lobbying by the Irish special envoy to the US, John Deasy, has culminated in draft legislation currently before the United States Congress that would have Australians and the Irish both competing for the E-3 visa!

An article published in the Irish Times on November 13 stated that hopes for additional US visas for Irish people was hit by a setback after the Republican Congress decided to defer a vote on the E-3 Legislation.

The article states: “under the current draft that has been brought to Congress, Ireland would compete with Australia for the 10,500 visas, rather than simply take up the unused quota.”

Given the article refers to the deferred decision as a “setback”, we are left wondering if the Irish feel that the Legislation was a done deal, and it was only the intercessions of the Australian Government that prevented it from passing the Lower House.

We wanted to take a look at the number to see if there was any basis to these assertions.

The Numbers  

If the Irish are claiming that their citizens are somehow disadvantaged in the allocation of non-immigrant visas vs Australia, and that the E-3 visa is a way to somehow compensate for this imbalance, we first must make an apples to apples comparison of populations.

Below is the 2017 data published by the Department of Homeland Security on non-immigrant work visas.  There were a total of 24,991 non-immigrant visas issued to the Irish, and 79,538 to the Aussies.

In 2017 the population of Australia was 24,770,000 and Ireland was 4,804,000; i.e. for every Irish citizen, there are more than five Aussies.  To accurately assess any claimed imbalance, we must therefore first conservatively adjust the Irish numbers by five.

On a per capita basis, Ireland received 124,955 non-immigrant visas to Australia’s 79,538.

On a per capita basis, the Irish received c.63% more US non-immigrant visas in 2017 than Australians.

Looking at the 2017 data, the Irish receive c.63% more US non-immigrant work visas than Australians on a per capita basis.

But what about 2018?

Below is a chart showing the 2018 monthly data released by the United States Department of State.  August 2018 is the most recent published data.

The most recent data shows that Ireland trails Australia by only 1,554 Non-Immigrant visas across these major work visas.

What is remarkable is that in April and May of 2018 4,885 J-1 visas were issued to the Irish.  This significantly closed the difference in visa numbers so far in 2018.

Viewing the same 2018 data, but factoring in visas issued on a Per Capita basis:

In 2018, citizens of Ireland have received more than four times more Non-Immigrant visas than Australians on a Per Capita basis.

According to the United States Department of State, from January 2018 to August 2018, citizens of Ireland received more than four times the number of non-immigrant work visas than Australians, on a Per Capita basis.

The data raises several questions including:

  • What is the basis for Ireland laying claim to the E-3 visa, because the 2018 data shows Irish citizens receiving more than four times more Non-Immigrant work visas than Australians, and
  • Why do the Irish feel entitled to a visa that was created by Congress in appreciation for the close military and intelligence ties between the United States and Australia?

What could be the potential fallout? 

In May of 2017 we published an article 5 reasons why the E-3 Visa is not going away anytime soon in which we quoted Professor Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University:

“(The Administration) is needlessly damaging the deep trust that binds one of America’s closest alliances, China and those wishing to weaken the strongest alliance in the Pacific will see opportunity in this moment.”

If Congress reneges on what is a token of 100 years of Mateship with the Australia, could there be an irreversible shift in regional thinking as to how the United States views Australia?

We will have to wait and see.

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