Niall Stanage – Irish Times – 9 January 2011
From the horror of the Famine to the bleakness of the last big recession, in the 1980s, Irish people have often tried to escape tough times by crossing the
Those who want to take their chances will have to negotiate thickets of immigration law. Even
The picture becomes a lot simpler if you bear two points in mind. First, most people can safely ignore lots of visa classifications, as many are designed for specific applicants, such as diplomats, athletes and journalists. Second, the key division is between non-immigrant and immigrant visas. The terminology aims to distinguish between visas that can lead smoothly to full
All major visas are difficult to obtain – unless you are lucky enough to win the green-card lottery – which the
Those who want to apply next year should take a realistic view: only 50,000 visas are issued worldwide, of which only about a third go to
There are two other main ways to get on the track to
The other main route is to be sponsored by an employer. This can work well, but again it is important to be realistic. The employer will have to be willing not merely to offer you a job but also to prove that no American has the skills to fill the position. The speed with which such an application will be processed also depends on the applicant’s skill level. Green cards for those with “extraordinary ability” or who are “international managers” can be processed quickly. Visas for those on the lowest levels can sometimes take years.
As for non-immigrant visas, one relatively recent development was a September 2008 expansion of the well-known J1 visa. Whereas the J1 was once synonymous with summer trips, Irish students and recent graduates can now live and work in the
Those who have left their student days long behind should keep in mind that an employer can sponsor an alien for a non-immigrant visa (the H1B) rather than a green card. They may be more willing to do so, as it is a slightly less onerous process, but they still have to vouch for the new arrival. In the current climate it could be difficult to prove that no American can do the job in question.
Overall, the situation is not especially bright. For people who are not students, recent graduates, green-card-lottery winners or relations of US citizens, the hurdles are high.
Some of those desperate for a taste of the American dream may think of moving to the
Your first port of call should be the
Other useful websites include:
US Citizenship and Immigration Services uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis
US Department of State state.gov
American Immigration Lawyers Association aila.org
The most widely used site for classified ads – for housing and jobs, say – is craigslist.org.
This is taken from an Irish Times series on current emigration trends from
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in