Dáil Éireann - Volume 603 - 14 June, 2005

Written Answers. - Work Permits.

  567. Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties that some employers are having in respect of retention of employees through the work permit system here in view of the fact that they are unable to obtain authorisation for spouses to travel here during the time of their work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19066/05]

  Mr. McDowell:The present position in on the admission of family members to Ireland to join non-EEA nationals already here is that in all cases the person must be in a position to support his-her family without recourse to public funds. A non-EEA national who is not visa required and is working in the State on an employment permit or under the work authorisation scheme may apply for family reunification — spouse, minor child — immediately. A non-EEA national who is working in the State under the working visa scheme may be joined by his or her family — spouse, minor children — in the State after three months. A non-EEA national who is visa required and is working in the State on an employment permit may apply for family reunification — spouse, minor child — on condition that he or she has been working here for at least 12 months and is likely to remain so for a similar period, that is, the work permit has been renewed. The spouse of a non-EEA national who is working in the State on foot of employment permit may take up employment in the State. However, a proposed employer must first obtain an employment permit to employ them.

In March 2004 the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment introduced new arrangements which gave greater ease of access to employment to spouses of those employed under the working visa-working authorisation schemes, the intra-company transfer scheme and spouses of those who had a work permit as a researcher or an academic. While the new arrangements did not remove the requirement for a work permit for the spouses of non-EEA nationals working in the State under the [1816] schemes outlined above, they gave greater ease of access to employment for such spouses by not requiring the employer in question to advertise the job with FÁS in advance of making a work permit application accepting applications for jobs in categories that would generally be considered ineligible for work permits, and exempting the application from the work permit fee.

I published a discussion document on immigration and residence in Ireland in April of this year. A copy of the document was circulated to all Members of the House. Chapter 9 of that document deals with the issue of family reunification and sets out my key proposals. Anyone who wishes to make a contribution on this or any other aspect of immigration policy is welcome to do so before the end of July 2005. All views communicated to my Department will be taken into consideration in the development of new immigration and residence legislation.