Category: Archive

A closing door

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

From the first day of June it will be harder still for people outside the European Economic Area, that being the European Union and a few extra European nations, to secure a work permit in the Republic.
The Irish government, like its U.S. counterpart, issues what it calls green cards to non-citizens who are permitted to live and work in the 26 Counties.
Over the years, our readers have become familiar with the various efforts aimed at securing more green cards for Irish citizens desiring to live and work in America.
In recent times, and most especially during the boom years of the Celtic Tiger, there was an increase in the number of Americans attempting to live and work in Ireland.
A number of stories over the past five years or so have highlighted some of the difficulties that U.S. citizens face when attempting to relocate to the Republic.
Well, if the fence was already a high one, it’s about to become higher still.
While we well understand the Irish government’s desire to see as many jobs as possible taken up by Irish citizens, not to mention the government’s obligation under EU laws to give priority consideration to people from EEA nations, as opposed to countries outside the area, we consider ourselves to be on firm ground when we argue that there is a need for particular attention to be paid to the movement of people for work purposes between the U.S. and Ireland.
Recently, and as part of the overall review of relations between both countries, the Irish government indicated that it would be loosening restrictions on the availability of Irish citizenship for Americans studying in Ireland, and who can lay claim to Irish great grandparents.
This is a reflection of relatively new EU rules in which even American spouses of Irish citizens must first live for a period in Ireland before qualifying for Irish citizenship.
It is no longer possible to satisfy the spousal requirements while continuing to live in the U.S. This was a welcome development, but it’s one with a relatively narrow focus.
A broader degree of mutual access, it is widely envisaged, would be contained in the still anticipated bilateral visa deal between Dublin and Washington.
We have heard less about a bilateral in recent weeks. This is hardly surprising given the shared economic train wreck that both the Irish and U.S. governments have been staring at.
But the bilateral idea reaches beyond economics into other spheres, and potentially constitutes a cornerstone of the full range of U.S.-Ireland relations for the 21st century.
Just as some governments are tempted by thoughts of greater protectionism with regard to goods and services, some think in similar terms with regard to the movement of people.
That subject looms especially large on this side of the Atlantic in the context of immigration reform. But Ireland, too, has had to consider immigration, and immigration law reform, in recent years, those heady prosperous ones when so many from other lands were hoping to grab the tiger’s tail and lay claim to a share of the Irish dream.
That dream has turned into a nightmare.
Nevertheless, people still have dreams. Not a few Irish dream about making a go of it in America. Not a few Americans dream of living in Ireland. Their aspirations should not be ignored.

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