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For Immediate Release

The Ireland-U.S. Council Welcomes Decisions To Expand
Work Visa Programs Between Ireland and the United States
Important Steps Taken To Liberalize Existing Visa Arrangements

Wednesday, September 24, 2008, New York, NY:

The Ireland-U.S. Council welcomes the decisions of both the Irish Government and the United States Administration to implement a substantial liberalization of visa rules allowing for U.S. citizens to work in Ireland and for Irish citizens to work in the United States for up to a year.

Under the terms of a deal signed today in Washington D.C. up to 5,000 U.S. citizens will be allowed to work in Ireland for up to one year while a minimum of 20,000 Irish citizens who are in, or have recently completed, post-secondary education will be allowed to work and travel in the U.S. for up to 12 months. The new pact was signed today at a ceremony at the State Department by Ireland ’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr, Micheál Martin and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Ambassador John Negroponte.

In remarks following the signing of the new agreement, Council President-Elect Dennis D. Swanson, President of Fox Television Stations Group, said “The Council has been actively urging the implementation of more liberal work-visa regulations between America and Ireland . Today’s announcement is a very welcome step in this direction. We in the Council believe that by enhancing the ability of young people from the United States and Ireland to travel across the Atlantic and to work for up to one year will make a major contribution to building and improving the relationships between our two countries.”

The existing summer J1 programme will continue to exist as a separate program. Minister Martin also noted that the Government in Ireland is continuing efforts for new bilateral arrangements to provide reciprocal long-term working visas (known as E3 Visas) and added “Today’s announcement represents one of the most significant developments in our visa arrangements with the United States in almost two decades.”

The outgoing President of the Ireland-U.S. Council Michael J. Gibbons, said “It is extremely gratifying that an issue on which the Council has invested sustained effort has met with such positive and tangible results. We believe that the Council’s advice to liberalize the rules on these visa matters will make an important and positive difference in strengthening the links between America and Ireland . We are delighted to salute these new rules with enthusiasm.”

The Ireland-U.S. Council was founded in 1963 by business leaders in America and Ireland . A principal objective is to encourage business links between America and Ireland , North & South. In pursuit of its mission, the Council, among other activities, operates scholarship and internship programs, undertakes various publishing initiatives and frequently hosts seminar platforms and other business-oriented events in Ireland and in America . The Council also stages various events, including several supporting the arts.