Push to stamp out a restrictive visa system affecting thousands

by Dublin Gazette
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A new campaign has been launched to highlight the difficulties that individuals living in Ireland on Stamp 3 visas face when seeking employment.

The Stamp 3 Association launched the ‘Reform Stamp 3’ campaign on Tuesday in the EPIC Immigration Museum.

The association was established by a group of spouses who moved to Ireland on the Stamp 3 visa.

Stamp 3 visas are given to partners of workers from outside Ireland – specifically non-EU/EEA or Swiss – who are working here.

However, the visa does not supply spouses with an automatic right to seek work, and they must apply for a spousal work permit after being accepted for a job.

There is then up to a 16 week wait for the application to clear before they can start work, which most employers in Ireland won’t accept, or are wary of.

Kevin Kline moved to Dublin with his wife, who works at a tech firm in the city, on the Stamp 3 visa. He has been unable to find stable work here, despite having years of experience in his field.

He told Dublin Gazette: “We moved here two years ago this month; my wife [moved over] in August, and I came in September.

“I’m a journalist by trade – I came from the TV news world in the States.

“On a personal level, it stings after a while. So much of my entire career was based around my job, and I love doing what I do, so to not be able to be working in a newsroom, or to be able to tell stories and use my skills, takes it out of you.

“We were travelling and going through immigration and they asked me, ‘What do you do?’. I had to say that I stay at home. The officer made a comment, ‘Oh, a man of leisure’, and that hit me.

“It makes you feel less than … on a personal level, it really impacts you.

“I can speak from experience and say some of our friends who are American came here with their American spouses, and they’ve all gone home.

“They couldn’t work, and because of that, for them and their spouses, it wasn’t worth living in Ireland any more. This practice is not going to be helpful for Ireland in the future,” he said.

The group want to highlight the issue and raise awareness of the plight that thousands across the country are facing due to the restrictions of the visa.

Kevin said: “We want to propose solutions to the issue. Raising awareness amongst businesses is a first step, and in the long term we’d like to push for an alternative for an automatic work permit for a spouse, which is the standard in most of Europe.

“Pretty much every Western European country you can think of has that permit.

“We want to be part of Irish society – it’s our home, we love it here. If we can’t work, that’s going to put a strain on a lot of that.

“We don’t want to move back to the US any time soon, but that’s the option if things don’t change, unfortunately.”

For further information on the campaign, see here.

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