The main reason for reaching out to you is to seek your support in reforming this immigration policy that brings about inequality in our society.
Most of our members made the decision of immigrating to Ireland when their partners got employment here or enrolled for a Ph.D., the majority of whom have the intention of long-term residency. They had to make very tough decisions that included leaving a life back in their country, selling property, and giving up on their jobs to come and reunite with their spouses in Ireland which is provided under the family reunification policy: http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Family%20Reunification%20Policy%20Document.pdf/Files/Family%20Reunification%20Policy%20Document.pdf.
INTEGRATION & CAREER
For many, citizenship is their long-term goal. In the meantime, their priority is being part of the community and ensure their career gets back on track. It is important that this happens quickly because of the financial and psychological damage that the stress is having on the mental health of our members, the loss of skills and the huge gap on their CVs is worrying which could potentially make them less desirable, in the future, by employers. This issue not only affects our members but also the well-being of their entire families.
MISUNDERSTANDING IN EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY
When most of them moved to Ireland, they thought it would be easy to apply for jobs in Ireland, get job offers and apply for their own work permits once they arrive in Ireland to be reunited with their partners. Applying for jobs has proven to be a very difficult process for most of them not because of their qualifications but mostly due to the many red tapes in front of them. From what we have gathered, the biggest roadblock is that there appears to be no standard rule applied and therefore recruitment agencies, employers and even civil servants do not have a complete understanding of which rule applies. As previously mentioned the INIS website has a statement that indicates we cannot work, however, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment indicate an alternative option. Please refer to this website document https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/Employment-Permits-FAQs-2020.pdf Every other job in the labour market, other than those included on the Ineligible List of Occupations, where an employer cannot find a worker, may be eligible for an employment permit.
https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Workplace-and-Skills/Employment-Permits/Employment-Permit-Eligibility/Immigration-Employment-Permits/ Applications from non-EEA nationals already legally resident in the State - Non-EEA nationals holding valid immigration permission, who have been offered employment in an eligible occupation will be allowed to apply for an Employment Permit whilst already legally resident in the State. The non-EEA national must hold a valid immigration stamp namely, Stamps 1, 1A, 2, 2A and 3 immigration permissions.
WHAT JOBS ARE AVAILABLE?
This has resulted in many obstacles. The first is to convince recruitment agencies or potential employers that they can be considered for employment. They only take into consideration what is stated on our members’ residence permit, i.e., Cannot work or engage in business. This means that irrespective of their qualifications and skills they cannot progress to the next step of interviews and possibly get job offers. The Job offer is required for the application for a work permit. The second obstacle is there are very few positions on the eligible list that they can apply for. In addition, the list only shows ineligible jobs and critical skills jobs and therefore it is not clear what Stamp 3 holders can apply for. Refer here: https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Workplace-and-Skills/Employment-Permits/Employment-Permit-Eligibility/Highly-Skilled-Eligible-Occupations-List/
MENTAL HEALTH – DEPRESSION, STRESS & LACK OF CONFIDENCE
Applying for jobs get more and more difficult and have a direct effect on our member’s mental health. Most of them have reported getting the same automated rejection emails that are a direct connection to the Stamp 3 VISA. Some have reported even applying for jobs that are below their experience and skill level and still received the same rejection. We have observed our members losing hope with life and getting into depression due to the stress that they experience from this condition not counting endless months of staying indoors doing nothing before and exasperated during the lockdown.
Just to give you some background on Stamp 3, on March 16 2019, your colleagues Charlie Flanagan and Heather Humphreys announced a change to immigration arrangements for spouses and partners of Critical Skills Employment Permit Holders. Full and immediate access to the Irish labour market was granted without the need of an application or submission of a work permit. This was a very welcome announcement which was through years of effort and campaigning by the Stamp 3 Group. However, the announcement was not comprehensive and neglected the spouses and partners of General Employment Permit Holders as well as spouses of Ph.D. students. We had hoped that the Government through further engagement and consultation would eventually grant the same employments rights to all on Stamp 3 and PhD spouses, sadly however this has not materialised. So, as you can see, the Government is aware of this issue and even amended the law to assist with the growing concerns of the Stamp 3 issue, but we now urgently require the Government to fully amend the relevant laws to grant the same rights to all spouses and partners of general employment permit holders and PhD students. Please see the below links regarding the Stamp 3 announcement.
Similarly, it is unfortunate that while spouses of PhD students on the hosting agreement scheme are allowed to directly access the job market without the requirement of a work permit http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/inis/pages/researchers majority of PhD students’ spouses cannot access employment despite their high qualifications and rich experience that they bring to Ireland. This is because the majority of our universities hire Non-EEA PhD students under research scholarship contracts instead of employment contracts which disqualify them to access the hosting agreement scheme hence affecting their dependants too.
We, therefore hope to achieve by calling upon you to investigate these issues will raise awareness of the situation and possibly avoid pending problems that are likely to occur in the future if this situation continues. We want to avoid serious outcomes from depression as well as unemployable persons in the future. We candidly request you to please assist us in the reform of these immigration conditions. Our perfect solution is that:
- We would like to feel treated with equality,
- We would want to be able to work and contribute to building the Irish economy through paying taxes,
- We would like to be helped to get rid of the hurdles that we have to go through to get employment and
- We would like your help in the urgent reform of stamp 3 VISA conditions.
We thank you for your time to read this and we hope that with this open communication, our situation will be raised to a priority level where changes can occur as soon as possible to REFORM STAMP3.