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By: iGaming Business

A senior US politician has attempted to resurrect arguments in favour of restoring the Wire Act in a letter to US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Wisconsin Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, asked Rosenstein as to whether he believes the Wire Act, which effectively acted as a federal ban on iGaming still has legal weight.

His attempts to resurrect discussion over the act comes around seven years after the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) said that the 1961 legislation was not applicable to online gaming, in a response to queries from the New York Lottery and Illinois Governor's Office regarding online lottery sales. Recent developments in sports betting have come about despite the act still being on the statute book as legislation has been introduced at a intrastate level in states such as New Jersey.

In his letter to Rosenstein, Sensenbrenner brought up old arguments that gambling could be used to fund terrorism and said only federal oversight of sports betting would protect the public from unscrupulous operators.

Sensenbrenner told Rosenstein that evidence submitted convinced him that Congress must act to ensure “the public is protected, and any potential for exploitation by criminals is minimised in this post-PASPA era”.

Describing the option of deferring responsibility completely to the states and “do[ing] nothing” as the “worst option” for Congress, he said two alternatives were the re-enactment of the federal ban and the adoption of uniform standards across the country.

He wrote: “[Online] wagering… will allow for exploitation of internet gambling by criminal and terrorist organisations to obtain funds, launder money, and engage in identity theft and other cybercrimes.”

In the closing half of the letter Sensenbrenner asked Rosenstein a series of questions about the Wire Act – the legislation used to outlaw online gambling until the issuance of a reinterpretation by the Office of Legal Counsel in 2011.

He asked Rosenstein whether the DOJ supports the reinterpretation and whether the body was issuing guidance to states. He also asked Rosenstein if he foresees particular issues should Congress not react to the PASPA ruling.

“To protect the American public and limit the ability of nefarious organisations from exploiting internet gambling, I believe Congress will develop a legislative response to the issues created by the Supreme Court's decision striking clown PASPA,” he wrote. “Since Congress is examining the totality of sports betting in light of the Supreme Court's PASPA decision, it would be beneficial to have answers to the[se] questions.”

Sensenbrenner's comments echo those made through previous attempts to "restore" the Wire Act, including those made by North Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Utah's Jason Chaffetz. The campaign ultimately wants to disregard the OLC's 2011 ruling on the Wire Act in order to revert to a 2002 interpretation that was used by the Department of Justice to prosecute offshore gaming sites targeting US customers.

However, with the Department of Justice currently without a permanent Attorney General following the firing of Jeff Sessions by President Donald Trump earlier this month and seven states having launched sports betting, it seems unlikely that his request will lead to legislative changes.

Despite this other lawmakers have pushed for a federal regualtory framework, with US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put forward a proposal for nationwide regulations to cover the sector in August.

Aside from suggesting that sports wagering should only be open to those aged 21 and over and that sportsbooks should adopt responsible advertising policies and report suspicious betting activities, Schumer said that only official league data should be used – enabling the sports properties to benefit from a lucrative new revenue stream.

By: Jim Hall of Best US Casinos

Summary: Wisconsin Representative Jim Sensenbrenner has called upon the United States Department of Justice to review the sports betting landscape on a federal level.

Since mid-May, sports betting has been booming in the United States due to the United States Supreme Court ruling that a federal ban against the activity was null and void. State after state has either started looking into legislation or already passed laws to allow the activity to take place.

While the past few months have been good for sports betting, it seems one representative of Wisconsin is not too happy and wants the Department of Justice to weigh in regarding potential oversight of the industry via the federal government.

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner sent a letter to the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this week, stating that the Department of Justice needs to provide a fresh perspective when it comes to laws involving sports betting, including the Wire Act.

The Rep has his hands in the fire so to speak as the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations. The Subcommittee recently took testimony on the subject of sports betting back in September.

When the hearing ended, as the chair, Sensenbrenner stated that intervention is necessary by Congress to harness the industry as it emerges.

The concerns of the representative involving sports betting include the striking down of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act along with the Wire Act and how it was reinterpreted. The Rep is not a fan of the changes and wants to see something done about it.

Sensenbrenner has voiced concern over terrorism, identify theft and money laundering in connection with sports betting. While there are issues with any industry, such problems have been shot down time and time again when brought up by those who are opposed to such gambling options.

By simply taking a look at New Jersey, the most successful state involved in online gaming and recently launched sports betting, it is clear to see the positive effects.

Just this past month, the state was able to record revenues via online gaming and an increase in wagers placed via sports betting operations. The state continues to do well and is a prime example as to how such gambling should be conducted in the US.

According to the letter, there are three possible solutions that Sensenbrenner thinks that the federal government should do involving sports betting. First, they could chose to re-enact a federal ban on the activity. I doubt this would happen because so many states have already passed legislation and are offering services.

Second, federal standards could be created for the industry, across the board, with each state having to follow to offer sports betting. This seems unlikely as well. Third, the Representative suggests that states will be deferred to regarding regulation of the gambling activity.

This seems the most likely in the scenarios. States have already been regulating their gambling industries for many years and do a good job of avoiding any illegal activity.

According to Sensenbrenner, the worse choice that Congress could make is to do nothing. However, he does feel that if any changes were to take place, it would be months or even years before legislation could be developed and enacted.

By: Tim Poole of Gambling Insider

US Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner has written to the Department of Justice seeking clarification of its stance on sports betting.

Sensenbrenner, the Chairman for the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, has suggested Congress must act in some way following the Supreme Court's repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May.

In September, representatives at a House Judiciary Subcommittee sports betting hearing discussed sports betting legislation, with the Nevada Gaming Control Board and American Gaming Association testifying against the need for federal involvement.

However, writing in a public letter, Sensenbrenner has re-addressed the issue, although he stopped short of recommending federal oversight.

He wrote: "After hearing from a panel of experts representing a broad range of positions related to sports betting, it is clear Congress has work to do to ensure the public is protected, and any potential for exploitation by criminals is minimised in this post-PASPA era.

"To protect the American public and limit the ability of nefarious organisations from exploiting internet gambling, I believe Congress will develop a legislative response to the issues created by the Supreme Court’s decision striking down PASPA."

By: Tim Poole of Gambling Insider

US Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner has written to the Department of Justice seeking clarification of its stance on sports betting.

Sensenbrenner, the Chairman for the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, has suggested Congress must act in some way following the Supreme Court's repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May.

In September, representatives at a House Judiciary Subcommittee sports betting hearing discussed sports betting legislation, with the Nevada Gaming Control Board and American Gaming Association testifying against the need for federal involvement.

However, writing in a public letter, Sensenbrenner has re-addressed the issue, although he stopped short of recommending federal oversight.

He wrote: "After hearing from a panel of experts representing a broad range of positions related to sports betting, it is clear Congress has work to do to ensure the public is protected, and any potential for exploitation by criminals is minimised in this post-PASPA era.

"To protect the American public and limit the ability of nefarious organisations from exploiting internet gambling, I believe Congress will develop a legislative response to the issues created by the Supreme Court’s decision striking down PASPA."

By: Matthew Knott of The Sydney Morning Herald

New York: Ireland is trying to muscle in on a special United States visa class that only Australians currently enjoy and which has limited numbers.

A bipartisan bill before the US Congress threatens to open access to the prized E3 visa class to Irish workers, a prospect that has sparked an intense lobbying campaign by Australia's ambassador to Washington, Joe Hockey, to block the move.

The legislation to expand the E3 visa scheme to Irish immigrants was introduced to the US House of Representatives at the end of October and is due for debate in coming weeks.

Many members of the US Congress have Irish ancestry, and are sympathetic to the idea of making it easier for Irish professionals to work in America.

But Australian officials have launched a diplomatic battle to preserve the exclusive right to the visa, fearing that opening up the scheme to the Irish would lead to a stampede of other countries seeking to gain access to its special provisions.

The E3, negotiated as part of the 2005 Australia-US free trade agreement, is the envy of countries around the world because of the privileged status it confers on Australian professional immigrants to the US.

Unlike other visas, it permits the spouses of Australian recipients to live and work in the US without restrictions and can be renewed indefinitely. It is significantly cheaper than other visas and allows Australians to bypass the pool of hundreds of thousands of other applicants competing for the right to work in America.

The E3 is more generous even than the special visas negotiated for Canadian and Mexican professionals under their free trade deal with the US.

Australia has access to 10,000 E3 visas per year. Around 5700 Australians are currently accessing the scheme and that number has been growing in recent years.

Irish officials say they want access to any visas that are not taken up by Australians – a position strongly opposed by Australian officials led by Mr Hockey.

Fairfax Media understands Australian officials have raised objections with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and senior figures in the Trump administration in recent weeks.

A source familiar with discussions said Mr Hockey had "gone nuts" about the prospect of Australia losing exclusive access to the E3 scheme.

"There has been a full-court press on this," the source said. "Australia has said, 'No way, we are not giving up what we are entitled to.'"

Mr Hockey declined to comment.

Sources close to the negotiations said other US members of Congress were already discussing the prospect of Indian and Korean citizens being given access to the scheme.

Australia has said that any immigration deal between the US and Ireland should not include the E3 visa, which was a pivotal part of free trade negotiations between the two countries.

There have been fears that, under the wording of the draft bill before Congress, Australians would be competing with Irish applicants for access to the visas rather than the Irish taking up any unused visas.

The Irish Times reported this week that the draft bill was being amended by the US Department of Homeland Security to address these concerns.

"Australia understandably wants clarity about the allocations within the E3," Ireland's special envoy to the US, John Deasy, told the newspaper.

"The Bill is being re-drafted to make it absolutely crystal clear that their visa uptake will never be impacted.

"We are only discussing the remainder of the visas not used by Australia.

"Hopefully this can be resolved very quickly."

The bill, introduced by Wisconsin Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal, would require to unanimous consent of the Senate to pass.

“The United States was built on the hard work and determination of immigrants -many from Ireland - and the fruits of their labour has enabled this country to grow and prosper," Sensenbrenner said in 2015 when announcing his plans for the bill.

“I believe in the value and opportunity that comes with legal immigration, and I’m pleased to work on legislation that would make the process more efficient for one of our oldest allies, as well as add to the great legacy of cultural diversity celebrated in America.”

By: Ciara Kenny of The Irish Times

America is full of people of Irish descent. Why is it so hard to move there?

Indeed. More than 35 million Americans claim Irish heritage, but since the mid-1960s, we have had little special treatment when it comes to applying for visas to live in the US. Ireland has long argued that the number of visas allocated to Irish citizens in America should better reflect the strong historic link between the two countries.

What’s on the table?

Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal and Wisconsin Republican Jim Sensenbrenner introduced a bill to Congress earlier this month, proposing Irish citizens become eligible for the E3 visa programme, currently limited to Australians. This Wednesday the House of Representatives voted in favour of the bill during a debate in Congress, but it still must secure Senate approval.

What is an E3 visa, and why are Australians the only ones eligible?

Australia clinched a deal for its citizens as part of a trade agreement back in 2005, allowing them to apply for a renewable E3 visa to work in the US for two years. The scheme is capped at 10,500 visas annually, but currently, only about half are taken up every year; if this bill passes, Irish citizens would be eligible for the unused quota, amounting to about 5,000 every year.

Who will qualify?

To apply for an E3, you must have third-level qualification or 12 years managerial experience, and a job offer from a registered employer.

Is this a deal for the undocumented Irish too?

As it stands the Bill only applies to future flows of Irish people rather than undocumented Irish living in the United States. 

Why now?

Ireland has been pitching for inclusion in the E3 scheme for years; it came close in 2015, but the bill failed to secure enough support in Congress. This time it has the backing of House Speaker Paul Ryan, and president Donald Trump has also indicated his support for a deal for the Irish.

Is Trump not against immigration?

At the White House this St Patrick’s Day, Trump made “fast friends” with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, referring to Ireland as a “wonderful country” and signalling his support for a deal for the undocumented Irish. The Irish delegation explained to the president that there were only about 10,000 Irish people now thought to be living illegally in the US, a figure much lower than the 50,000 usually cited, which possibly made a special deal for the Irish more politically palatable.

What has Ireland offered in return?

In exchange, Ireland would ease the requirements for Americans who want to retire in Ireland. At the moment, all non-EEA citizens looking to retire here need to have an annual income of at least €50,000, and are not permitted to work. Income thresholds may be lowered for American citizens, and permission given for them to work 20 hours per week.

How likely is the bill to pass?

The bill has passed through the House of Representatives, but it still must secure unanimous consent in the Senate, which will require agreement of all 100 Senators. Speaking on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, the Irish Government’s special envoy to the US Congress John Deasy he was "under no illusions how difficult that may be”.

Immigration reform campaigners say they are “cautiously optimistic”. Chicago-based Senator Billy Lawless, appointed by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny to represent the Irish diaspora, says “it is the best chance at immigration reform that we have had in 20 years”.

If this doesn’t pass, what are my options if I want to move to America?

Aside from the popular J-1 visa programme for students and recent graduates, Irish citizens only have three main options: to marry an American citizen, get an employer to sponsor them for a H1B visa (which lasts just six years), or chance their luck in the annual Diversity Visa Lottery for a green card, but only about 160 Irish win a green card this way every year.

By: Suzanne Lynch of the Irish Times

As Washington continues to dissect the results of Tuesday’s midterm elections, which saw the House of Representatives return to Democratic power for the first time in eight years, Irish eyes in the US capital are focused on another matter.

The next two months – known as the “lame-duck” session as the current Congress sits out its final weeks – offers the best opportunity in some time to secure a visa deal for Irish citizens.

Behind the scenes discussions are under way to clinch an agreement that would see the E3 visa scheme, which only applies to Australians, extended to Irish citizens.

Australia, an important military ally of the US, secured the coveted visa programme in 2005 as part of a US-Australia trade deal. It was widely seen as a thank you by the US to Australia for its participation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More than a decade later, Australians are not taking up the full allocation of 10,500 visas offered each year. Ireland senses an opportunity.

In the final days of the last congressional session before members returned to their districts for the midterms, two members of Congress – Republican Jim Sensenbrenner and Democrat Richard Neal – introduced a Bill to the house. A vote could take place as early as this week when members of Congress reconvene on Capitol Hill.

John Deasy, the US special envoy who has been working on the proposal with the Department of Foreign Affairs in Washington and Ireland’s senator for the diaspora Billy Lawless, says that the Bill will be dealt with under a procedure known as “Suspension of the Rules” which allows the House to process non-contentious measures swiftly.

Many obstacles

“The E3 bill as drafted is being viewed as a non-contentious measure by both Democrats and Republicans,” he says. “Having two long-serving and respected members of Congress from different sides of the aisle introduce it jointly bears that out.”

But there are many obstacles to a deal. Firstly, any Bill must be endorsed by the Senate and needs unanimous approval.

Secondly, there is the question of the undocumented Irish. The Bill in its current form relates to future flows of Irish people who want to live and work in the United States, but sources say there could be room for negotiation on the issue further down the line.  

Ciaran Staunton of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform says he is waiting to see details of the Bill. “While any new visa is welcome, and we support any opportunity for Irish people to live and work in the United States, we would hope that there is something for the undocumented on this,” he says.

Diplomats are also sounding caution. Ireland has seen similar initiatives brought forward before, only to be thwarted at the last moment.

The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform Bill in 2013 but it failed in the House. Similarly, a 2015 proposal on extending the E3 visa to Ireland did not secure enough congressional support. This time, officials are also working on a proposal to make it easier for American retirees to move to Ireland, by lowering the income threshold required and permitting Americans to work for up to 20 hours a week.

Economic links

Whatever happens in the coming weeks, the quest for a new visa programme for Irish citizens should continue. The visa, which is seen as an alternative to the H-1B visa, is a two-year renewable visa which covers spouses. It is also less costly to secure than the H-1B professional visa. Up to 5,000 visas a year could be made available to Irish citizens.

With the number of Irish people choosing to live and work in the United States on a steady decline for years, securing new emigration paths is crucial if Ireland wants to continue the deep cultural and economic links between Ireland and America.

Next week the heads of Ireland’s diplomatic missions across North Americawill gather in Washington. The annual gathering comes after the Cabinet in Dublin was briefed last week on the new Ireland-US strategy, part of the Government’s effort to double Ireland’s global footprint by 2025.

Among the proposals are to invite more American politicians to visit Ireland, and step up engagement with contacts on Capitol Hill – a strategy being pursued by the embassy in Washington for many years.

Given that the United States is Ireland’s number one trading partner outside the EU, nurturing the Irish-US relationship should be a key diplomatic priority in the years ahead.

By: Andrew Wilford in the Daily Caller

The Supreme Court’s October decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair upended decades of established precedent governing state taxation of business. Prior to the ruling in Wayfair, states could only tax businesses that had a “physical presence” within their borders. The court’s decision in the Wayfair case to abrogate the physical presence standard threw all the cards up in the air. While the Supreme Court was unwise to decide as it did in Wayfair, Congress would be wise to step in and lend some semblance of order to the transition.

No sooner had the Wayfair decision been released that states began scrambling to get a piece of the tax pie. Unfortunately, in their haste to draw in as much revenue as possible, states have often made proper procedure and due diligence a secondary concern. Some states, such as Michigan and North Carolina, have not even bothered to draft specific legislation in response to Wayfair, simply relying on administrative action. In total, at least 13 states have announced internet sales taxes without drafting updated legislation.

Such hasty scrambling to access revenue is ill-advised not only for procedural reasons, but also because of the uncertain environment it creates for business. Wayfair has created chaos already, forcing small online retailers previously exposed to one or two tax jurisdictions to face the prospect of complying with as many as 12,000 tax jurisdictions nationwide. Thomson Reuters is estimating that a mere 8 percent of mid-sized businesses are prepared to handle the added compliance burden. Smaller businesses are undoubtedly even less prepared, and vague guidance from tax collection agencies only further blurs the picture.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress led by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) is working on legislation to address these problems. Rep. Sensenbrenner’s legislation, the Online Sales Simplicity and Small Business Relief Act, would impose a moratorium on enforcement of post-Wayfair state tax laws until at least January 1. By removing the time crunch states are reacting to, Congress would effectively encourage them to take the time to draft proper, well-considered laws.

This Sensenbrenner bill would also prevent states from collecting taxes retroactively. Despite the fact that the Wayfair decision suggested that retroactive collection may be unconstitutional, states like Florida and Massachusetts have already indicated that they are exploring the concept. Retroactive collection, where states collect taxes from before the Wayfair decision even came out, is not only deeply unfair, it is also bad policy. Businesses, particularly small businesses, operate on thin margins — throwing unexpected taxes at them without giving them time to prepare can be catastrophic, not to mention potentially unconstitutional.

Another area where states have been misbehaving is in establishing protections for small sellers. The Supreme Court effectively blessed South Dakota’s rule exempting online businesses with less than 200 sales and less than $100,000 in revenue from within the state. Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Washington each impose tax obligations starting at just $10,000 in sales — an amount that many truly small businesses would easily exceed. Even a higher $100,000 standard is low when applied to states with economies vastly larger than South Dakota’s, such as New Jersey, but that hasn’t stopped states from pushing the boundaries.

To solve this, Sensenbrenner’s legislation would set a small-seller exception at $10 million in revenue nationwide. The Small Business Administration defines revenue up to $38.5 millionas a “small business” in this sector. That number may seem high, but keep in mind that revenue is not profit — it is the amount of total income for a business before operating expenses. A $10 million threshold would protect most truly small businesses from being forced to comply with the dizzying array of tax laws nationwide.

Small businesses have it hard it enough without having to cope with a sudden shifting of tax rules. Congress must step in and prevent overzealous state tax bureaucrats from causing even more harm, and Sensenbrenner’s legislation is a good start along the road to making sure businesses are treated fairly after the chaos that the Supreme Court has caused.

Andrew Wilford is a policy analyst with the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to tax policy education at all levels of government.

By: Fiach Kelly of the Irish Times

Support from senior figures in the Trump administration has been instrumental in progressing efforts to secure a landmark visa deal between Ireland and the US, the Government’s special envoy to the US has said.

John Deasy, the Waterford TD appointed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to spearhead efforts at visa reform, said senior figures in President Donald Trump’s cabinet helped to draft a Bill that could be voted on in the House of Representatives as soon as next week.

Mr Deasy cautioned that the Bill still had to be passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate, where it will need unanimous backing. He stressed, however, that it had bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans.

“We are not there yet and I think we need to focus on just getting this done,” he told The Irish Times. “There are a million ways on Capitol Hill how a whole Bill can be stopped.”

Under the proposed legislation Irish citizens would become eligible for the E3 visa – a visa currently open only to Australian citizens. About 10,500 E3 visas are available each year, but only about half are taken up. In the mooted move, Irish citizens would be eligible to apply for any visas not used in the allocation.

Strong supporters

The Bill containing the proposal is being sponsored by Republican Jim Sensenbrenner and Democrat Richard Neal, and Mr Deasy said Mick Mulvaney and John Kelly, respectively Mr Trump’s director of office of management and budget, and his chief of staff, have been strong supporters of the legislation.

As a result, Mr Deasy said the latest initiative has made immigration reform for Ireland “closer than its ever been”.

“Frankly, because it has been drafted by the current administration, Homeland Security, with two members of congress on either side. That is something that hasn’t occurred previously.”

Niall O’Dowd, a long-time campaigner for immigration reform, welcomed the latest developments but also struck a note of caution. Mr O’Dowd also said he will be watching to see if the Bill addressed the issue of the undocumented Irish in the US.

“It is a positive development, it is an exciting development, but one that still has a way to go. I do believe that the Taoiseach and President Trump have spoken about this issue and it has got traction within the Trump administration.”

When asked about how the undocumented will be catered for, Mr Deasy said the “priority right now is to ensure that this legislation passes”.

“That is the most important part of this process and I hope people would just bear with me throughout the entire process.”

Income thresholds

He said the success of the latest plan rested on “making a proposal that makes sense to the Americans”. In return for access to the E3 programme, Ireland would make it easier for US citizens to retire here by lowering income thresholds for those who wish to retire here, as well as allowing such applicants work 20 hours a week.

“From our end if we get the the E3 visas, at the same time create the flows from the American side, it’s a win-win and it really benefits both countries,” Mr Deasy – who has in the past worked as a legislative aide and a lobbyist on Capitol Hill – said.

Getting a new Bill to this point, he said, was due to upping the “political ante” with individual members of congress.

“The only way we were going to achieve a deal in Washington was by increased political activity at member level.

“No disrespect to our Department of Foreign Affairs but I think that was necessary and I think that has proven to actually have an effect over the last year, year and a half.”

By: Ray O'Hanlon of the Irish Echo

A renewed effort to secure two year renewable E-3 visas for the Irish could be heading to Congress during its post-election lame duck session.

A bill, jointly sponsored by Congressman Richard Neal, the Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the congressional Friends of Ireland, and Congressman James Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin, is now before the House of Representatives.

A version of it has existed for several years.

Back in in November, 2015, H.R. 3730, proposed allocation to Ireland of E-3 visas not taken up by Australians who enjoy a dedicated annual E-3 allocation.

The bill was placed before the House by Rep. Sensenbrenner and was taken up by the Judiciary Committee. No action was taken at the time.

Action might now be taken.

The Irish Times was reporting that the Irish government was “close to a landmark visa deal with the U.S. which could allow thousands of Irish people to live and work there.”

The Times reported that “a vote could take place on the House floor as early as next week when Congress reconvenes after the midterm elections, though the Bill must ultimately gain Senate support also, where it needs unanimous consent.”

Any House standalone bill would have to find itself a Senate match.

H.R. 3730, according to its language, was intended “to authorize unused visas numbers made available under section 101(a)(15)(E)(iii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to be made available to nationals of Ireland, and for other purposes.”

It additionally states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, visa numbers made available….that were unused by nationals of the Commonwealth of Australia during a fiscal year shall be made available on the same basis in the subsequent fiscal year to nationals of Ireland residing in that country.”

As such, that E-3 proposal does not address the circumstances of the many thousands of undocumented Irish living in the United States.

H.R. 3730 required of possible future Irish applicants that they would have at least a high school education or its equivalent, (which shall include passage of a high school equivalency examination) or have, “within five years, at least two years of work experience in an occupation classified as Zone 2 or higher by the Bureau of Labor Statistics if the alien is a national of the Republic of Ireland.”

It’s unclear at time of writing if the Neal/Sensenbrenner proposal will deviate in any significant way from H.R. 3730, or if it is a carbon copy.

That said, the Irish Times reported that “one key difference this time, according to officials, is the involvement of House Speaker Paul Ryan. Ireland is also offering a reciprocal arrangement to America which will see the Department of Justice ease the requirements for Americans who want to retire in Ireland.”

What’s yet unclear is how the Australians will react.

The Australian E-3 visas allow citizens of that country, and their spouses, to live and work in the U.S. for two years while additionally allowing for the possibility of a renewal.

The visa allocation was included in a trade deal between the U.S. and Australia but was widely seen as a reward for Australia for its help in the Iraq war.

As such, it was a quid pro quo deal. Any deal between Dublin and Washington would also have a quid pro component given the retirement aspects. U.S. citizens retiring to Ireland can draw their Social Security payments there as a treaty between the two countries allowing for this has existed for some year.

Reported the Irish Times regarding possible E-3s: “Applicants must have a job in the United States to quality and have certain academic or other qualifying credentials. But the E3 is significantly easier and less costly to obtain that the tradition H1B visa.”

The reemergence of a possible E-3 allocation comes against the backdrop of negotiations between Dublin and Washington that have included discussions between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and President Donald Trump – on St. Patrick’s Day in the White House – and John Deasy, a member of Mr. Varadkar’s Fine Gael party who has been acting as a de facto envoy to the U.S. Congress.

“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,” Mr. Deasy has stated.

Mr. Deasy “declined to discuss the specifics of the negotiations” stated the Times, “but he said that officials have a “definite timeline in terms of what we would like to see happen.”

“From the beginning the Taoiseach and I believed that any immigration agreement would require a bilateral arrangement that would benefit both sets of citizens,” Deasy said.

Again from the Times report: “One outstanding question is the status of the undocumented Irish already living in the US. While in the first instance the E3 visa scheme is likely to apply to future flows of Irish people, sources have indicated that discussions are also under way about accommodating undocumented Irish citizens who may qualify.

“The news from Washington comes as the Irish Government on Tuesday approved a series of measures to deepen and enhance Irish-U.S. relations, specifically inviting more American politicians to visit Ireland.

“While the Taoiseach and Ministers have made 169 visits to the U.S. since 2012, visits by American politicians are rarer, and the Government will seek to invite more U.S. mayors, members of Congress and national politicians to Ireland in the coming years.

“Approving a review of U.S.-Ireland relations brought to Cabinet by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, the Government decided that there should be ‘aggressive engagement’ with Irish-American politicians in the new Congress.”

The requirement that jobs relating to qualifications, and jobs secured in advance, might be required of any who want to secure E-3 visas brings to mind not only H1B visas, but also the extended J1 visas which have a job in advance requirement.

Australian take up of E-3 visas has varied year by year though a source told the Echo that it lately has been about 6,500 a year and “growing.”

E-3 visas for the Irish certainly has bipartisan support in the Congress. The question is to what extent.

The Senate immigration reform bill passed by that chamber in 2013, the so-called “gang of eight” bill, included a provision for 10,500 E-3 visas specifically dedicated to the Irish that was penned by Senator Charles Schumer.