The Irish Government is about to extend visas for thousands of students working here, or else the hospitality industry may suffer a staffing problem this summer.
Associations for English language students here are urging the government to extend Stamp Two visa permissions, which are set to expire on May 31st, until September 30th. Stamp Two visas allow students to work part-time while studying in Ireland. They can work up to 20 hours per week during the school year and up to 40 hours per week during the summer.
As per the English Language Students Union (ELSU), an estimated 2-3,000 young workers are now facing the potential of leaving Ireland by the end of May, only to return in September for the start of the academic year. Several of those impacted have made deposits to begin new courses in September. According to the visa laws in this country, persons who were studying English might apply for a fresh visa after two years if they were continuing their education.
That’s where the issue arises. Some students who have paid deposits for master’s or post-graduate degrees will now be sent home to South America till the start of the academic year. An extension until September would allow these students to live and work in Ireland until they begin their new studies in September.
That means that many low-wage employees would have to pay for airfares back to their native nations. Activists claim that the money spent on these trips might have gone toward education in Ireland. Students would also lose their jobs, housing, and the investment they put in their studies and in Irish universities as a result of this.
Stamp 2 visas were extended several times during the pandemic. However, a combination of a system backlog and excessive processing periods has resulted in the current issue. According to Adrian Cummins of the Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI), if the students do not grant an extension, it will have a “devastating” impact on the Irish hospitality business this year.
“What we’d want to see is the government extend the visas for another six months.” This will have an impact on people and businesses across the country. There will be those who will be alright, but there will be many who will not be.
“This will be disastrous for the industry.” We need people who can work so that we don’t have to cope with a much larger labour deficit.”
Cummins went on to say that many of the employees who worked in the sector during the pandemic are the same ones who will be affected by the visa issue, making this a very severe issue for the industry. He petitioned the Department of Justice for some sort of assistance for the students. Fiachra Luain, the co-founder of the ELSU, has urged the government to swiftly extend visas in order to assist the thousands of students who are currently in administrative limbo.
“This is of the utmost importance, and we call on all parties and all members of the Oireachtas, particularly those from inside the coalition, to support these requests as soon as possible,” he said.
“We need to make an announcement this week so that students can adjust their travel plans and stay here to work.”
“Ireland cannot afford to lose key labour capacity during the high season of the summer months when these students will be able to save up for the academic year ahead.”
The “huge, vast” majority of people who will be affected by this visa issue work in the hospitality industry, according to Luain.
“This is yet another reason why this is so critical. At a time when everyone is looking to hire people, you’re removing thousands from the labour force overnight.”
Several TDs have written to Justice Minister Helen McEntee over this matter.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, immigration permissions have been extended nine times, which means that people who held a valid permission to be in the State in March 2020 are legally permitted to remain until 31 May 2022,” the Minister said in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin’s Chris Andrews. At this moment, I have no plans to extend the deadline beyond May 31, 2022.”
According to Luain, time is of the essence for the Minister to act, since thousands of people are preparing to leave the state at the end of the month.
“We’re aiming for an automatic extension – up until the end of September.” This would allow people who have been working throughout the outbreak to stay and work through the summer before returning to school in September.
“This is causing enormous and horrifying stress to all affected.” On matters like this, employers can be stricter than the garda. It’s simply that simple. If the employees’ permission runs out, they will be made unemployed and sacked.”
In response to a Journal inquiry, the Department of Justice reaffirmed its written reply to Chris Andrews.
“Since the commencement of the pandemic, immigration permissions have been extended nine times, which means that persons who held a valid licence to be in the State in March 2020 are legally able to remain until 31 May 2022,” a representative for the department stated. There are currently no plans to extend the deadline beyond May 31, 2022.
“Dublin-based consumers who want to renew their authorisation can do so online.” The online renewal process has completed over 125,000 applications since its launch in July 2020.”
Fáilte Ireland stated in February of this year that the country needs to fill 40,000 openings in the hospitality and tourist sectors. According to the tourism authorities, the industry is undergoing a recruitment problem, owing primarily to vacancies caused by the pandemic’s impact.
While labour experts questioned the accuracy of the 40,000 claims, those in the business agreed that the industry was suffering from a labour shortage.
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