Efforts are underway in the US to try to secure senate approval for a bill that could give Irish workers access to thousands of US visas every year.

Last week, the US House of Representatives voted in favour of adding Ireland to the E-3 visa programme, which is currently only available to Australians.

The proposal needs unanimous support in the US Senate before it can become law.

Six Republican senators had put a hold on the bill but three of them have now agreed to support it, meaning three senators remain undecided.

Efforts are under way to try to convince them to lift their hold so that the matter can proceed to a senate vote.

Every year, 10,500 E-3 visas are offered to Australians who want to work in the US but only about half of them are taken up.

Ireland wants to be able to access the remaining unused visas.

E-3 visas are for two years but can be renewed indefinitely. They allow the spouses of recipients to work in the US but not their children.

Earlier this year, the Irish Government agreed to ease restrictions on US citizens wishing to retire to Ireland as part of efforts to get access to the E-3 visa programme.