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    Minister proposes US-Ireland visa exchange

    By admin | October 27, 2006

    Tony Killeen, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has said he supports the idea of establishing a programme that would legalise undocumented Irish workers in exchange for giving Irish work visas to Americans. Mr Killeen was speaking after returning from the FAS Jobs event in the US. He said he would raise the idea with his colleagues in the coming weeks.

    Mr Killeen supported his idea with the fact that there were 4,300 Americans who immigrated to Ireland in search of work in 2005, while only 1,700 Irish recieved work visas. The government estimates that there are 30,000 to 40,000 undocumented Irish workers in the US. Mr Killeen said, “There is clear evidence to support the establishment of some form of bilateral agreement between the US and Irish governments”. He added,

    “A large percentage of those in attendance at the FAS Jobs Ireland Exhibition in New York were American. The interest expressed by Americans to come and work in Ireland was so great that a queue more than two and a half blocks long formed outside the Exhibition venue. In less than 15 years Ireland has gone from being the sick man of Europe to one of the most dynamic economies in the developed world. Irish incomes now exceed the European average, resulting in emigration being replaced by immigration. It is perfectly feasible to suggest that some form of working agreement can be pursued where the status of the undocumented Irish is regularised while work permits are offered to Americans seeking employment in Ireland. I hope to raise such a proposal with my colleagues over the coming weeks.?

    Mr Killeen also announced the details for a new “Green Card” system for entry into the Irish labour market. The two-year visas will apply for an extensive list of occupations paying more than €60,000, and a smaller list of jobs paying between €30,000 and €60,000. Sectors involved include IT, healthcare, construction, financial services, and biotechnology.

    Read the press release for more information.

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