Emigrating from Ireland to the UK
In order to make your American dream a reality, you must first verify which type of immigration route best applies to your circumstances.
It is important to know that the US categorises foreign applicants through its points-based-system for a visa. Generally speaking, applicants’ eligibility depends on their qualifications and education level, their nationality, work experience, and/or family links to the country.
Fortunately, those with Irish citizenship do not need a visa to enter the United States for the purpose of visiting for up to 90 days. But, Irish nationals who wish to emigrate to the US permanently for work or to live with family must seek the appropriate visa and Green Card.
The US welcomes family members of US citizens, skilled workers, students and entrepreneurs. However, it can be a complicated and lengthy process to be accepted as the US has particularly stringent criteria and strict controls on immigration.
At the Immigration Advice Service, our team of legal experts and immigration attorneys will review your case, help you build a portfolio of supporting evidence and liaise with the appropriate authorities in the US throughout your application.
Contact our client care team today to see just how we can help you move from Ireland to the US on (+353) 061 518 025.
The US Points-Based-System
In order to secure a visa to emigrate to the US, you must score a certain amount of ‘points’ to be eligible. Each visa has a different scoring system and eligibility criteria.
Since there are so many different visas, US immigration law splits each type into two distinct categories: immigrant and non-immigrant visas.
Immigrant visas are designed for those who intend to live permanently in the United States. Those who attributed into this category must ensure that they renew their visa and prove that they have an intention of becoming a lawful, permanent resident in the country. Most commonly, applicants seeking an immigrant visa will require a ‘sponsor’ to support their claim.
Sponsors of immigrant visas can be as followed:
- A US family member, such as a parent, spouse, child, brother or sister with US citizenship
- A family member living in the US without citizenship but who holds a Resident Alien Card
- A prospective employer or educational body (such as a university/college)
By contrast, non-immigrant visas are for migrants seeking entry into the US for a temporary time period. Examples of temporary stays would include going to the US for medical purposes or for a holiday. However, applicants must prove that they plan on leaving the US and returning to their home country at the end of their stay.
The US Green Card
In order to become a lawfully recognised permanent resident of the United States, you must obtain a Green Card.
Successful applicants are usually able to secure this residency card through family sponsorship or through employment, especially if you are considered highly skilled and desirable in your field of work.
There are two ways to petition for a Green Card: Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) if you have family in the US and Form I-140 (Petition for Alien Worker) if you work in a US based company.
Your petition form will be thoroughly assessed by the National Visa Center (NVC). However, it can take several years before you are fully accepted as the US has a cap on a certain number of allocated spots for Green Cards per year.
In addition, the annual Diversity Visa Lottery awards some lucky applicants with a full Green Card. You may enter the lottery via the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program). As many as 50,000 immigrant visas are granted through the lottery every year and are drawn at random. It is important to note that only those who originate from countries with low immigration rates to America can enter. It is estimated around 160 Irish nationals receive a Green Card via this lottery draw every single year, but many end up waiting for years until they receive it.
Contact the Immigration Advice Service today on (+353) 061 518 025 to see how we can help you obtain a US Green Card and which steps you may need to take to obtain one.
Immigrant Work Visas in the US
Irish citizens who want to work in the United States will need to apply for a visa. There are around 35 different types of US employment visas and work permits available, ranging from trainee interns, experts in their field and budding entrepreneurs. Since there are so many, it is important to verify exactly which route best suits your individual circumstances.
Fortunately, you do not need to wait years to obtain a US Work Visa, unlike the Green Card. Immigrant Employment Visas are usually time limited, meaning you will need to renew your visa before it expires in order to remain in the country. You will also need to be endorsed and sponsored by a recognised US employer.
Immigrant Work Visas are reserved for foreign applicants who are considered to have an “exceptional ability”, such as those who hold an advanced degree or have a specific skillset.
- EB-1 Visa for foreign nationals who are either internationally recognised as leaders in their chosen field of work, outstanding researchers and professors or executives/managers of major organisations
- EB-2 Visa for working professionals with an advanced university degree and who has been sponsored by a US company
- EB-3 Visa for skilled workers with a bachelor’s degree and sponsorship from a US business
If you are unsure about which type of USA Immigrant Work Visa is best suited to you, contact the Immigration Advice Service today.
Nonimmigrant Work Visas in the US
In addition to Immigrant Work Visas, there is also a category for Nonimmigrant Work Visas and Nonimmigrant Temporary Work Visas.
The general categories of Nonimmigrant Work Visas are:
- H-1B Visa for specialty occupations
- L-1 Visa for intracompany transferees
- O-1 Visa for individuals with extraordinary ability
- E-1 Visa for international treaty traders
- TN Visa for Mexican and Canadian citizens only
Alternatively, Irish nationals may wish to enter and work in the US on a temporary yet fixed basis. Normally, this type of permission is non-renewable, meaning you will need to leave the US and apply for a different visa in order to return again.
The types of nonimmigrant US temporary work visas are:
- Temporary Work Visa (H), which allows migrants to enter the US to fill a temporary position in a prearranged job where the US recognises a shortage of US workers, or for those receiving training
- Temporary Work Visa (L), allows individuals to be transferred by their current employer in Ireland to fulfil a job within the same firm in the United States
- Temporary Work Visa (O), is required for people who have an ‘extraordinary ability’ in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics or film and television sectors
- Temporary Work Visa (P), applies to an individual or a team of athletes, or members of an internationally recognised entertainment group
Emigrating to the US from Ireland for Family Purposes
If you wish to emigrate to the US and live with an American family member, the person who is legally resident in the United States must act as your immigration ‘sponsor’.
Again, US family visas are split into two main categories: Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas and Family Preference Immigrant Visas.
Immediate Relative (IR) Immigration Visas are applicable to Irish nationals who have a close family relationship with a US national. The relationship must be an Immediate Relative.
The visas for the IR category are as follows:
- IR-1: Spouse of a US Citizen
- IR-2: Unmarried Child under 21 years to a US Citizen
- IR-3 and IR-4: An adopted person from abroad to a US Citizen
- IR-5: Parent of a US Citizen who is at least 21 years old
By contrast, Family Preference Immigrant Visas (F) are for distant family members. However, there is a fiscal year numerical limit to each type.
The Family Preference Visa categories are:
- Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens and their minor children
- Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children and unmarried sons/daughters providing they are over 21 of Lawful Permanent Residents
- Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children
- Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided that the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.
If you are an Irish citizen and you are married to an American citizen, you are automatically eligible to apply for a Green Card. However, not all family members are able to do so.
Emigrating to the US to Study
If you wish to move to the US for educational purposes, such as taking up a university course in one of the US’ prestigious institutions, you will need a visa.
First of all, you must be accepted by an approved educational body in the country. Then, you should apply for an appropriate visa to support your stay.
Irish nationals dreaming of studying at university, high school or college would be best suited to applying for an F-1 Visa. However, those wanting to take up a vocational course and/or study in a non-academic institution, you will need an M-1 Visa.
Alternatively, you may wish to explore studying via the Exchange Visitor Visa, otherwise known as the J-1 Visa. The J-1 Visa is for educational and cultural exchange programmes designed by the US Department of State. This visa is reserved for individuals who want to take part in an exchange programme and who receive a sponsorship from a school, business or organisation. Most people choose this visa route for the purpose of summer employment programmes, internship programmes and au pair programmes. Participants of the J-1 scheme must have proof of sufficient funds such as via savings or scholarships to support themselves while they are in the US and further must outline their intention to return to Ireland at the end of their stay.
In addition to the above, you must demonstrate that you have the funds to support yourself while in the United States as only in exceptional circumstances are you able to work. You may be able to work in the US if:
- Your university or school increases its cost and/or reduces your financial support
- You need to pay for necessary additional expenses such as medical bills or for any newborn children/dependents
If you need help emigrating to the US from Ireland to study, our expert immigration lawyers and attorneys are on hand to help you. They can assist you by helping you decide which Student Visa matches your circumstances. We can even check your eligibility and help you with your application from start to finish.
Visiting the US
Irish Nationals Visiting the US
Irish citizens wishing to visit the US do not technically need to apply for a visa. However, you will need to apply for an ESTA – Electronic System for Travel Authorisation – permit.
The ESTA allows Irish citizens the chance to visit the US for tourism purposes, or for business, transit, medical or short study without a visa for a period of no longer than 90 days.
To apply, you can make your application online. It is crucial you have this permit prior to travel, and it is best you apply at least 72 hours before your departure to the US.
The Visa Waiver Program for Irish Citizens
If you are an Irish citizen and you want to travel to the US for short-term business or pleasure purposes, you may be able to apply via the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), grants Irish nationals the chance to travel to America without securing a visa. This is known as the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
However, the VWP only allows travellers to enter the US for a period no longer than 90 days, meaning applicants will not be allowed to settle in the country or remain for any longer than 3 months. To switch onto a permanent immigration status or visa, you may be advised to leave the US and make a second application from your home country as you are prohibited from changing your immigration status while still in the US.
To be successful, you must provide proof of your intention to leave the US at the end of your visit.
Last modified on October 5th, 2023 at 3:02 pm
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Even if you applied via the Visa Waiver Program, if for any reason, you stay in the US beyond the time permitted to you on your visa, you will be a liable for deportation and possibly even detention.
For this reason, it is of utmost importance you take note of your entry permission and when it expires.
To apply for any kind of US visa, you should send your application to the US Embassy. To receive a verdict on your application can take anywhere from a matter of weeks to months.
In addition, each application you make will need to be accompanied by a portfolio of accompanying evidence. Any errors or mistakes you make in this application will jeopardise your case, and may mean that you are waiting longer for a verdict.
The Immigration Advice Service can help ease the burden and maximise your chances of success. We have offices located all across the UK, Ireland and the US, so we are able to help you no matter where you are.
Our expert team of immigration specialists are well versed in all areas of international and domestic immigration law. As soon as you get in touch with our client care team, you will be assigned your own personal immigration advisor who will help you with your case from start to finish.
IAS offers a plethora of tailored packages to suit your needs. This includes:
- An Advice Session, in which your IAS advisor will generally provide advice on your case, check your eligibility, verify you meet the criteria for your chosen visa and/or advise you on which visa best suits you. Your expert will also tell you which documents you need to submit with your application. The IAS Advice Session is also untimed, meaning you have as long as it takes to iron out your query.
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IAS can also help you Appeal a decision, in which your IAS advisor can even represent you at a Tribunal hearing.
Contact IAS today on (+353) 061 518 025 to hear more about our packages and how we can make the move to the US stress-free.
If you are an Irish resident but you originate from overseas and therefore do not have Irish citizenship, you must instead apply for a Visitor Permit to enter the US.
You can choose from any of the following visitor visas:
- B-1 Visa for Business Visitors which encompasses professional business trips such as for education, science or for a business conference, negotiating a contact or consulting with associates
- B-2 Visa for Tourism which allows you to visit friends or relatives, access private medical treatment or enrol in a short recreational course of study