Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Ceisteanna (287)

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

287. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the status of E3 visas between the United States of America and Ireland; the engagement that has taken place over the past year between Irish representative groups in the US and the Irish Embassy and consulates on the issue of the undocumented Irish; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34954/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Addressing the situation of undocumented Irish emigrants in the US and working to secure legal pathways for Irish people who wish to live and work in the US are key priorities for this Government. We have continued to raise these matters in our engagement with successive US Administrations, Members of US Congress and leaders from across the political spectrum. The Taoiseach raised the matter in March this year directly with President Biden during his St. Patrick's Day virtual visit. He also discussed the issue of the E3 visa bill, and of creating pathways to citizenship, with the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

I am glad to see that immigration issues, including possible pathways to citizenship, are a priority for the President as demonstrated by his proposed US Citizenship Act of 2021. We continue to pursue the E3 Visa Bill, which, if passed, could allow access to thousands of US visas each year to Irish citizens, providing new opportunities to live and work in the US. Our Embassy in Washington D.C. continues its extensive outreach in support of the Bill, working with a range of Members of the US House of Representatives and the Senate. We will seek the reintroduction of the Bill to Congress at the earliest opportunity.

Through Our Embassy in Washington D.C., as well as our Consulates across the US, we engage regularly with Irish representative groups in the US, particularly the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers. The Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers receives significant annual funding through the Government’s Emigrant Support Programme. Furthermore, in response to the pandemic, a dedicated COVID-19 Response Fund for Irish Communities Abroad was set up to help these organisations meet the needs of those who are particularly vulnerable. In 2020, over €4.25m was paid to diaspora organisations in the US for ESP and Covid-19 related projects.

We will continue to support and engage with these groups, which support the needs of Irish citizens in the US. We will also actively engage with the Administration as they pursue comprehensive immigration reform in the US.