The delay in the processing of work permits for the spouses of foreign nationals must be tackled to ensure our economy can continue to succeed and grow, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Speaking in the Seanad this week, Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond raised the issue of Stamp 3 permits, which are issued to non-EU nationals who join their non-EU spouse or partner legally working in Ireland.
Senator Richmond said: “When a Stamp 3 permit holder finds a job that suits their needs they are faced with a wait to process their permit that can surpass twelve weeks. This can lead to job offers being withdrawn and the applicants then have to start the process over again. Many employers are not aware of the fact that Stamp 3 holders are permitted to look for work which can also hinder them if they are not even considered for roles.
“This is not a tenable situation for Ireland. It is not fair on the Stamp 3 holders, their families, or those who are seeking to employ them. We cannot allow potential workers to be stuck in limbo, unable to work or access social welfare services. These are well educated workers, over 50% of whom hold a Master’s degree, and they are well suited to benefit our growing economy.
“Ireland’s unemployment rate currently stands at 5.3% which is an amazing achievement considering it was over 15% in 2011. However, the unemployment rate for Stamp 3 holders currently stands at 93%. This disparity must be addressed.
“Furthermore it is to Ireland’s detriment that we cannot avail of the skills and services offered by these people who are currently unable to contribute to Ireland’s society and economy. Many of these people are skilled in the types of industries currently recruiting in Ireland, such as Information Technologies, Finance, Health and Education.
“With Ireland currently facing our biggest challenge in decades with Brexit, and many businesses turning to Ireland to expand, we must be able to provide them with reassurance that Ireland has skilled workers in the fields they require.
“For every business that chooses not to expand in Ireland due to lack of workers, or for every Stamp 3 holder that cannot access a work permit, we are losing out on valuable skills and contributions to our economy. Ireland is a global economy and this must be clear to those looking to live here, work here, and grow their businesses here.
“When we allow people to reside legally in Ireland, they should feel welcomed, not ostracised. The Stamp 3 system must be reformed to address these concerns,” concluded Senator Richmond.