Immigration

New support network for expat Irish women

Irish women in Australia have found a new network of support through the work of one Dublin-born mother.

After a decade living in Australia, having made the move at 24, Sarah Whelan returned to Ireland for less than two years before deciding to journey back to Sydney, which she realised had become her home.

When the certified transitional life coach touched down she began to share her experiences of leaving and returning online, and expat Irish women flocked to her blog.

“People were really identifying with the things I was feeling,” Ms Whelan said.

“Women identified with the emotional impact…the guilt in leaving family behind.”

Irish Women Abroad founder Sarah Whelan aims to coach women through difficult transitions in their lives.

Irish Women Abroad founder Sarah Whelan aims to coach women through difficult transitions in their lives.

Ms Whelan was inspired to create Irish Women Abroad, an online support network to meet growing demand for answers and advice.

More than 3,000 network members, the majority of whom are Irish-Australian, provide everything from a shoulder to lean on to suggestions regarding every challenging aspect of emigration, from leaving relatives to transporting pets.

It was not long before the community moved off the internet and into the real world.

A recent Sydney meet-up was opened by the Irish Consulate in Sydney’s Vice Consul Rory Conaty, with the Consulate’s funding helping Ms Whelan - whose work with the network is voluntary - to organise events.

The Sydney Irish mission has provided support to Irish Women Abroad since its team members discovered Ms Whelan’s blog.

Sydney meet-up attendees enjoyed a reading from award-winning Irish poet Anne Casey.

Sydney meet-up attendees enjoyed a reading from award-winning Irish poet Anne Casey.

Award-winning Irish poet Anne Casey has recently joined the network after 25 years in Australia, saying she immediately saw the potential for members to bond over shared emigration experiences.

“It’s the empty chairs at birthday parties…it’s the call in the middle of the night when a family member has died.

“You don’t have to explain anything.”

The next meet-up will be held in Melbourne in November, and with an event already planned for returning expats in Ireland, there could be opportunities for further international expansion.

Ms Whelan hopes the “safe spaces” she has created continue to help women find their feet wherever they decide to resettle.

“My vision is for people to feel connected in their experiences…there’s no right or wrong way to feel.”

Ireland changes visa rules for de facto partners

The Irish government has launched a new ‘pre-clearance process’ which they say will make it easier for Irish emigrants to return home with their non-EEA de facto partners.

The changes, which impact directly on Irish emigrants returning to Ireland from Australia, has been welcomed by migration advocates but some concerns remain about timing issues and possible processing delays.

The new pre-clearance system introduces for the first time the possibility to apply for a visa to enter Ireland as a non-EEA partner from a non-visa required country (such as Australia) in advance of travelling to Ireland.

Until now, these partners would have applied for immigration permission on arrival in Ireland and would wait for up to six months for a decision before they would be allowed to work.

This had been widely deemed by Irish citizens as a deterrent from returning to Ireland with their non-EEA partners from countries like Australia, Canada and the USA.

Comment: Emigrants should be the main focus of diaspora policy

This change has been lobbied for by many stakeholders, including Crosscare Migrant Project in Ireland, who provide information and advocacy to many Irish migrants inquiring about the de facto rules.

Under the new rules de facto partners from both visa and non-visa required countries must apply for a de facto visa in advance of travelling and have received a pre-clearance permission letter if they wish to stay for longer than 90 days and work in Ireland.

The new system does not seem to offer any option to arrive and then apply.

Crosscare policy officer Danielle McLaughlin said: “In general we think this will be fine, but for emergency returns (such as coming home to care for a loved one, or if someone is deported) it could cause problems. We hope that discretion will be applied in emergency cases, for either very quick processing or to allow people enter Ireland with their Irish partner and then apply.”

The new system has no impact on the system for spouses or civil partners. They can continue to travel to Ireland and get permission on arrival subject to normal Irish visa rules.

All applications will be processed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) in Dublin.

Embassies will only continue to play a role in accepting visa applications, but these too are processed in Dublin or in an INIS visa office.

Irish Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan believes the new rules will encourage more emigrants to return to Ireland.

Irish Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan believes the new rules will encourage more emigrants to return to Ireland.

Crosscare’s Project Officer Richard King, writing in The Irish Times, welcomed the new scheme but cautioned that inefficient processing times could cause frustration for applicants.

“The success of the pre-clearance system will in a large part come down to the efficiency of the processing,” he wrote. “A long delay or uncertain processing times could have a huge impact on those returning. For example, couples with children need the assurance of being able to get a response in time to put everything else in motion and get back before the school year starts.”

Ireland’s Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he hoped the new system “will encourage more people to come home”.

“In recent times, many of our young and our most highly educated citizens have emigrated,”he said.

“They may have wanted to further their careers, make more money, or simply to experience the wider world. While away, some have met life partners and perhaps even started their own families. We want to show these people that Ireland is ready to welcome them home and that we will provide a clear immigration and labour market pathway for their de facto partners.

“By allowing people to obtain preclearance before they arrive we can speed up the process and provide certainty about being able to access the labour market on arrival, once registered with INIS. In the past this could have taken up to a year, which is a long time when you are trying to build a new life in a new country”.

Full details and further information on the revised arrangements, including the criteria for obtaining preclearance, are set-out in the INIS website www.inis.gov.ie

 


Deportations set to soar under proposed laws

Immigration experts have warned the federal government’s proposed changes to the Migration Act could see the number of non-citizens deported increase five-fold.

Australia’s Minister for Immigration David Coleman introduced legislation to allow the government to cancel the visas of people who have been convincted of a crime that carries a maximum sentence of at least two years, even if they never served time in prison.

Minister Coleman said tightening character tests based on criminal conduct was necessary to protect the community from harmful people.

Immigration Minister David Coleman introduced the legislation in July.

Immigration Minister David Coleman introduced the legislation in July.

In a Senate Committee submission, immigration researchers said the changes would impact those “who are unlikely to be an ongoing threat to the Australian community”, with many non-citizens potentially deported for non-jail time offences such as common assault, which frequently results in the lesser punishments of a fine or community correction order.

Researchers including Abul Rizvi, former deputy secretary of the Department of Immigration, said a hardened character test would “immediately expand the number of people failing”, especially as the legislation could be applied retrospectively, and that it would “exacerbate the divide between citizens and non-citizens”.

Read More: Irish-born Australian resident loses court appeal against deportation

The Migration Act was last changed in 2014 under Tony Abbott’s prime ministership, when amendments allowed the immigration minister to cancel a non-citizen’s visa based on association with groups involved in criminal conduct, sexually based offences involving a child, crimes against humanity, and other offences of national and international security concern.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been vocal in opposing the current policy under which people who have lived almost all of their lives in Australia can be sent back to the countries of their birth.

Ms Ardern said the issue had corroded the political relationship between her country and Australia.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has criticised Australia’s deportation policies.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has criticised Australia’s deportation policies.

From 2012 to 2013, 76 New Zealanders’ 501 Visas were cancelled.

The figure jumped to 1,277 from 2016 to 2017 after the passing of the 2014 amendments.

The new stricter character test proposed by Minister Coleman would be the first to allow deportation of an immigrant who has not served a prison sentence, and could see thousands more non-citizens forced to leave behind their Australian lives and families.

Federal Court decision: Irish ex-bikie to be deported

The Federal Court has thrown out an Irish ex-bikie’s appeal to avoid deportation.

Dublin-born Paul Pennie, who has lived in Australia for 40 years, said his representations in favour of having his visa reinstated had not been given “proper, genuine and realistic” consideration by the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton in his first Court hearing.

These included fears he would experience homelessness, unemployment, and lack of medical care for his mental health and heart issues if returned to Ireland.

Appeal judges Justice Davies, Derrington and Colvin disagreed, declaring, “no error is discernible in the primary judge’s reasons.”

“The minister accepted that he may experience significant difficulties…but was of the view that Mr Pennie would have a level of access to healthcare, social welfare and housing comparable to that which is available in Australia.”

The appeal judges agreed with the original judgement not to reinstate Mr Pennie’s visa.

The appeal judges agreed with the original judgement not to reinstate Mr Pennie’s visa.

Mr Pennie filed submissions stating that the views expressed by the Minister were incorrect, given that he would not be eligible for job seekers allowance or state pension in Ireland as he has lived in Australia since childhood, however the appeal judges found the minister had “no legal duty” to ensure the 46-year-old would be entitled to welfare.

Earlier Story: ‘It will destroy us’, family speaks out about son’s imminent deportation

The judges said the minister’s concerns that the Irish-Australian was at risk of engaging in further criminal conduct were reasonable, as although Mr Pennie said he had severed ties with the Bandidos Motorcycle Club, those involved with the outlaw group were still pressuring him to reoffend.

“In those circumstances, it was open to the minister to reason that separation from the Club was ongoing…not completed.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said ‘non-citizens’ who engage in criminal activity or other serious conduct of concern such as involvement in outlaw motorcycle gangs “can expect to have their visas considered for cancellation”.

Mr Pennie was sentenced to prison in 2015 for possession of methylamphetamine with intent to sell or supply, leading to the cancellation of his visa in 2016.

Following his appeal dismissal Mr Pennie wrote on Facebook from a Perth detention centre that the “putrid system” was destroying families’ lives.

The Pennie family said Paul (left) struggled to cope after the sudden death of his brother Keith (right).

The Pennie family said Paul (left) struggled to cope after the sudden death of his brother Keith (right).

His father Gerry Pennie said the decision had left Paul and the family devastated: “He just can’t get himself together, he couldn’t even talk to me...”

In a letter to Minister Dutton, Gerry Pennie wrote, “We have already been forced to endure…burying our youngest son Keith.

“Should you cancel Paul’s visa, we would again be put through the unbearable grief of losing yet another one of our children.”

Mr Pennie said his son had contributed to society through hard work since his teens, holding jobs as a hospital attendant and security guard, and was prepared to atone for his wrongdoing.

Paul Pennie will leave behind his elderly parents, sisters, and nieces and nephews when he leaves Australia in late November.

Famine monument remembrance event marks 20 years

The glass panels of Sydney’s Famine Memorial feature the names of Irish orphan women settled in Australia between 1848 and 1850.

The glass panels of Sydney’s Famine Memorial feature the names of Irish orphan women settled in Australia between 1848 and 1850.

The 20th annual commemoration at the Australian Monument to the Great Irish Famine takes place later this month.

Due to a major refurbishment and upgrade of the exhibition spaces at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum and installation of a lift, the Museum is closed until late in 2019.

This means that the annual event will be different this year, starting with a symposium entitled Looking Forwards And Remembering commencing at 10am at the nearby Mint Building in Macquarie Street.

Afterwards, attendees will congregate in front of the Hyde Park Barracks’ Famine Memorial for the annual commemoration.

Historian and genealogist Dr Perry McIntyre said the Irish community were the driving force behind building the monument in 1995.

“It reminds them of their roots and historical connections to Ireland,” she said.

The monument is dedicated to over 4,000 Irish orphan girls and women who were resettled under a transportation plan during the Great Famine.

The National Monument to the Great Irish Famine was completed in 1995.

The National Monument to the Great Irish Famine was completed in 1995.

Unmarried women and girls, left alone and destitute by the catastrophe, arrived in Australia between 1848 to 1850 under former British Prime Minister Earl Grey’s Orphans scheme.

The girls and women came from all 32 counties to meet Australia’s need for both female labourers and mothers in the male-dominated colony.

Dr McIntrye said these women remained influential in the cultural heritage of the Australian community today.

“We are in contact with at least several thousand descendants and my estimation is that there would be at least 500,000 people descended from these 4,114 girls, even if they don't know about this aspect of their genealogy.”

The Annual Commemoration usually commences at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum on Macquarie Street, the site where orphans who were sent to Sydney were housed.

For this year’s Commemoration on August 25, descendants of the orphan immigrants are invited to wear a lapel label indicating their ancestor’s name, home county, and the ship they journeyed on.

Symposium attendees will hear from both the Vice Consul-General of Ireland Rory Conaty and Dr McIntyre, giving insight into how the story of the young women rescued from the Famine continues to influence Australia’s cultural landscape today.

‘It will destroy us’, family speaks out about son’s imminent deportation

The Irish family of a former Bandidos bikie is despairing at their son’s imminent deportation from Australia under a controversial policy.

Paul Pennie, 46, is awaiting a Federal Court appeal hearing to determine if he will be sent back to a country he barely knows after being sentenced to prison on charges including possession of methylamphetamine with intent to supply.

The Pennie family migrated to Australia in 1980 when Paul was only six. His father Gerry is worried his son’s deportation will have a devastating effect on the close-knit family.

“It would destroy us,” he said.

“He doesn’t know anyone in Ireland.”

Earlier Story: Irish-born ex-bikie faces deportation under controversial policy

Mr Pennie said his son’s battles, which ultimately led to his visa being cancelled in 2016, stemmed from the sudden death of his younger brother and a workplace injury that left him unable to continue his job as a security guard.

The Australian government deported more than 1,000 people between 2016 and 2018 on character grounds, a policy recently criticised by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has cancelled thousands of visas on ‘character’ grounds.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has cancelled thousands of visas on ‘character’ grounds.

The issue was having a “corrosive” impact on Australia’s relationship” with New Zealand, Ms Ardern said. She argued that deportations should not be enforced after an individual has lived in a country for 10 years.

Gerry Pennie emphasised that his son had never been charged with or engaged in violent crime, and had severed ties with the Bandidos bikie club.

“I know him as my son. He has never laid a hand on anybody. Never,” Mr Pennie said.

His son was allegedly nearly bashed to death by fellow bikie-connected inmates in prison after he refused to participate in a stabbing, his father said.

The Irish-Australian suffers from both mental health issues and heart disease, and is concerned about his ability to access and afford treatment should he be deported.

During Mr Pennie’s 2018 Federal Court hearing, the then Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Petter Dutton, said he accepted that Mr Pennie’s deportation would potentially exacerbate his psychological conditions “given his history of depression and suicidal ideation”, but that he would likely be able to access health support in Ireland as a habitual resident.

The Pennie family. (From left) Paul, who is facing deportation, his mum Evelyn Pennie, sister Clare Flint, dad Gerry, sister Karen Derrick and brother Keith.

The Pennie family. (From left) Paul, who is facing deportation, his mum Evelyn Pennie, sister Clare Flint, dad Gerry, sister Karen Derrick and brother Keith.

It is uncertain if Mr Pennie would satisfy the conditions necessary to be eligible for social assistance, because factors considered by Ireland’s Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection include the applicant’s intention to live in Ireland for the foreseeable future.

Mr Pennie has no desire to live in Ireland, where he has no ties, and his family is concerned he would not be able to independently establish a new life or find accommodation having been either incarcerated or in a detention centre since 2015.

Paul Pennie has guaranteed work with a friend’s lawn-mowing business if he is allowed to stay in Australia, the family said.

His sister Clare Flint accepted some Australians would believe deportation was necessary as part of a tough stance on crime, but she emphasised that other foreign criminals had avoided expulsion after being sentenced for more serious, violent crimes.

Early this year it was revealed that hundreds of immigrants who had their visas cancelled after committing crimes in Australia have been spared deportation, including a drug trafficker who had spent more than 10 years in prison.

“Put your feet in our shoes,” his sister says. “Everyone’s made mistakes, but Paul’s paying the ultimate price in losing his family.”

Fintan O'Toole to speak at Sydney 'ideas' festival

Award-winning Irish journalist Fintan O’Toole will appear at Antidote, Sydney’s leading festival of ideas, joining a panel discussion on national identity.

The veteran columnist, author and political commentator has written for The Irish Times for over three decades, with a career-long focus on strong opposition to political corruption in Ireland and abroad.

Fintan O’Toole’s columns on Brexit for The Irish Times and The Guardian have earned him awards and accolades.

Fintan O’Toole’s columns on Brexit for The Irish Times and The Guardian have earned him awards and accolades.

The prolific writer , who penned a bestselling book on Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union entitled Heroic Failure: Brexit And The Politics Of Pain, will bring valuable insight about Boris Johnson’s elevation to prime ministership to the Sydney Opera House.

The State We’re In panel event will see global thinkers discuss the trials and tribulations of a world and political atmosphere obsessed with national borders.

O’Toole is sure to stir up bold conversation, having described the current political landscape a trial run for fascism’s return in a 2018 article read by millions the world over and nominated for a European Press Prize.

Antidote is one of the Opera House’s flagship contemporary festivals, presenting innovative ideas about contemporary culture on stage and through online content.

This year’s event will run from August 31 to September 1, offering seekers of change the chance to come together in an iconic location.

Read More: The State We’re in - Antidote Festival

Would-be Irish citizens cannot leave the country, court rules

Legal experts have described as ‘absurd’ a High Court ruling which says that a person applying for Irish citizenship must not leave the country for an entire year before lodging their application.

The ruling came during a case in which an Australian man, Roderick Jones, challenged the Justice Minister’s refusal to grant his application to become a naturalised Irish citizen.

During the one year period before the date of the application, Mr Jones, who works in the university sector in Dublin, was out of Ireland for 100 days, 97 of them for holidays, RTE reported.

In order to apply for Irish citizenship, a judge has ruled that applicants must not leave the country for twelve months beforehand.

In order to apply for Irish citizenship, a judge has ruled that applicants must not leave the country for twelve months beforehand.

In previous cases, the Minister for Justice had allowed applicants to spend time out of the country for holidays and other reasons but Mr Justice Max Barrett ruled that this discretionary practice was not permitted by law.

The judge said that "might seem unfair" in a world where many people travel abroad for work and take foreign breaks more than once a year, but he said, that is what the relevant law requires.

He said the cure "for any such unfairness" lay in the gift of the legislature.

Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, those wishing to ‘naturalise’ as Irish citizens have to be legally resident in the State for at least five years out of the last nine (or three out of the last five if married to an Irish citizen).

This includes one year of “continuous residence” in the 12 months up to the date of application.

The judge said the word "continuous" bore its ordinary meaning and was defined as "unbroken, uninterrupted, connected throughout in space or time".

Justice Max Barrett has conceded that his judgement ‘may seem unfair’.

Justice Max Barrett has conceded that his judgement ‘may seem unfair’.

The judge said the law did not allow the Minister any discretion in relation to this requirement. 

He said the minister had manifested "very real humanity" in trying to nuance the very clear wording of the legislation by applying a discretionary absence period to allow for the realities of modern life, but he had gone beyond what was legally permissible.

The judge said there was no evidence before him as to why the Oireachtas had imposed this condition in the 1956 Act.

He said it may have been to ensure potential citizens enjoyed a concrete connection with the State or were attuned to the way of life in Ireland or some other reason. 

The cure for any resulting unfairness was not to be found in the courts he said, but lay in the gift of the legislature.

Over 8,000 people were granted Irish citizenship in 2017 alone, according to European Union data.

According to The Journal.ie, Ireland’s Department of Justice said they were examining the ruling and “will take any necessary action in consultation with the Attorney General”.

The plantiff Roderick Jones has been contacted for comment.

'Huge weight' lifted as family allowed to stay permanently

Darragh Hyde is a cystic fibrosis sufferer. He and his family have been granted permanent residency in Australia after a long campaign.

Darragh Hyde is a cystic fibrosis sufferer. He and his family have been granted permanent residency in Australia after a long campaign.

An Irish family facing deportation after having their visa application rejected have now been granted permanent residency.

Dubliners Christine and Anthony Hyde, who have lived in Australia for a decade, were told they would have to leave Australia after their three-year-old son Darragh was considered a “burden” to the country because of his cystic fibrosis, and the cost of his medication.

But they have now been granted permanent residency after Australia’s Minister for Immigration David Coleman used his discretionary powers to intervene.

Christine Hyde, who had driven a massive online campaign to highlight their case, said the family were “so excited” after hearing the news.

“Late yesterday evening we received the good news that we were granted residency,” she said.

“We are so excited, a huge weight has been lifted and we can continue our lives. We will are completely grateful to everyone. Thank you to everyone who supported us.”

The Hydes’ local MP Damian Drum had taken up their case with the Minister and the Premier of Victoria had also called for them to be allowed to stay.

Minister for Immigration David Coleman has used his ministerial discretion to allow the Hyde family to say in Australia.

Minister for Immigration David Coleman has used his ministerial discretion to allow the Hyde family to say in Australia.

An online petition calling for the Hydes to be allowed to remain in Australia has received over 120,000 signatures.

Earlier, Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews said that he thought the Hydes should be allowed to stay in Australia.

“This is a great family,” he said. “They’ve been SES volunteers and school teachers in their local schools, they’ve have contributed over the past 10 years.

“The young boy was born here, some compassion and some common sense (is needed).

“There’ll be some costs for the medical treatment he needs, but there will be so many more benefits to Seymour, to that local community and indeed for all of us.”

Family granted extension as minister mulls deportation

Darragh Hyde is a cystic fibrosis sufferer. He and his family have been granted extra time in Australia while their case is considered by the minister.

Darragh Hyde is a cystic fibrosis sufferer. He and his family have been granted extra time in Australia while their case is considered by the minister.

The Australian government has allowed an Irish family to remain in the country while their immigration case is examined.

Dubliners Christine and Anthony Hyde, who have lived in Australia for a decade, were given until today to leave Australia after their three-year-old son Darragh was considered a “burden” to the country because of his cystic fibrosis, and the cost of his medication.

They are now permitted to stay put until their case is reviewed and a decision made.

It is understood that David Coleman, Australia’s Minister for Immigration, has begun looking at Darragh’s case.

“It could be a few weeks, but we will be able to stay until a decision is made,” Mrs Hyde told Yahoo News.

The news comes following the intervention of the Hydes local MP as well as the Premier of Victoria.

Federal member for the seat of Nicholls Damian Drum is backing the Hyde family’s bid to remain in Australia.

“I spoke to David (Coleman) on this case,” Mr Drum told the Irish Echo earlier this month.

Minister for Immigration David Coleman, in whose hands the Hyde family’s destiny now rests.

Minister for Immigration David Coleman, in whose hands the Hyde family’s destiny now rests.

“The Minister is in a very difficult position here. This situation where you have people out here on work visas who have children with severe disabilities, there is a real potential that this could cost the country millions of dollars and everyone understands that.

“If the Minister intervenes in this case, it will set a precedent so we have to be very careful,” he explained.

An online petition calling for the Hydes to be allowed to remain in Australia has received over 115,000 signatures.

Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews also believes that the Hydes should be allowed to stay in Australia.

“This is a great family,” he said. “They’ve been SES volunteers and school teachers in their local schools, they’ve have contributed over the past 10 years.

“The young boy was born here, some compassion and some common sense (is needed).

“There’ll be some costs for the medical treatment he needs, but there will be so many more benefits to Seymour, to that local community and indeed for all of us.”

The Minister for Immigration David Coleman has been approached for comment.

Irish doctors fleeing Ireland for Australia in larger numbers

The number of doctors emigrating from Ireland to Australia increased from 22 in 2005-2006 to 221 in 2017-2018, a new report has found.

The number of doctors emigrating from Ireland to Australia increased from 22 in 2005-2006 to 221 in 2017-2018, a new report has found.

Australia is the primary beneficiary of a sustained exodus of Irish-trained doctors from Ireland, a new detailed study has found.

Doctors are continuing to emigrate from Ireland in high numbers and many are choosing Australia.

This is having a seriously damaging effect on the Irish health service, experts claim.

The study, called “Tracking the leavers: Towards a better understanding of doctor migration from Ireland to Australia 2008-2018”, found that even though overall Irish emigration numbers to Australia decreased as the Irish economy recovered, the number of doctors emigrating here has continued to increase year on year.

The report also points out that Ireland’s dependence on internationally trained doctors has increased from 13 per cent in 2000 to 42 per cent in 2017, and last year there were 500 vacant consultant posts nationwide.

The emigration of Irish-trained doctors to Australia is a subset of this larger migration from Ireland to Australia after 2008, the report says.

“It might be expected that doctor migration would follow the same patterns, i.e. peaking between 2011 and 2013 before returning to pre-2008 levels by 2014 as the Irish economy showed signs of improvement.

ALSO READ: Will changes to the skilled regional visa affect me?

“However, the number of Irish citizen doctors granted 457 visas increased in the period 2008-2012 and has continued to increase.

“In 2017-2018, a decade since the onset of recession in Ireland, 326 Irish citizen doctors were issued with working visas (temporary and permanent) for Australia, more than double the 153 issued in 2008-2009. This trend suggests that the migration of doctors is not primarily related to economic circumstances, which began to recover in 2013-2014, but perhaps to health system factors.”

The report, written by the Human Resources For Health group, also observed that early career Irish doctors are increasing attracted by offers of work and sponsorship for RMO/resident medical officer posts in the Australian health system.

“The number of doctors migrating from Ireland to Australia at this early career stage increased from 22 in 2005-2006 to 221 in 2017-2018,” the report found. “In 2017-2018, 221 of the Irish doctors granted 457 visas were early career stage doctors, while the remaining 86 were more senior.”

The chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation’s Consultants’ Committee, Clive Kilgallen, said cuts to wages during the recession have been a major factor in many doctors’ decision to move abroad.

“This is a systemic issue, in particular for consultants appointed after 2012, who could be working for up to €50,000 per year less than their colleagues who were appointed before 2012, and are doing the same job. This is grossly unfair and it is no wonder so many of them have turned their backs on [Ireland],” he told irishhealth.com.

The report also notes that in 2014, 684 Irish/EU doctors graduated in Ireland but 627 doctors emigrated from Ireland to countries such as Australia, the UK and the US.

“These figures are clearly unsustainable for our health service,” Dr Kilgallen said.

Read the full report here.

Minister considers plight of Victorian Irish family

Damian Drum is the Nationals MP for Nicholls. He is supporting an Irish family’s bid to stay in Australia.

Damian Drum is the Nationals MP for Nicholls. He is supporting an Irish family’s bid to stay in Australia.

A local federal government backbencher and the Victorian Premier have voiced their support for an Irish family facing deportation.

Federal member for the seat of Nicholls Damian Drum is backing the Hyde family’s bid to remain in Australia and says Immigration Minister David Coleman is reviewing their case.

“I am waiting for the Minister to get an opportunity to look through the file. It will be done probably within the week,” he told the Irish Echo.

“I’ll be in constant contact with the Minister on this one and we are hopeful that we can get a good decision but we are not in a position to make a call on it yet,” he said.

Christine and Anthony Hyde’s application for permanent residency was refused because their son Darragh, 3, has cystic fibrosis.

Unless the Minister intervenes, the family who have lived in the north Victorian town of Seymour for 10 years, must leave the country by June 18.

“I spoke to David (Coleman) on this case,” Mr Drum said. “The Minister is in a very difficult position here. This situation where you have people out here on work visas who have children with severe disabilities, there is a real potential that this could cost the country millions of dollars and everyone understands that.

“If the Minister intervenes in this case, it will set a precedent so we have to be very careful,” he explained.

Darragh Hyde has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

Darragh Hyde has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

Despite this, the Nationals MP said he feels “relatively confident” after his conversations with the Minister.

He added: “There’s still a lot of work to be done in relation to all the data that goes into the appeal, all the data that the Hydes need to present. All that data has to find its way from the Department to the Minister.”

Mr Drum said he became involved in the case at the request of the local community.

“Many people from within the community have been stopping me and saying: ‘Can you help this family?’”

He said the Hydes have proven that “they are making a substantial contribution to our nation.”

Christine works as assistant principal at a local primary school and Anthony works as a bus driver.

An online petition calling for the Hydes to be allowed to remain in Australia has received over 100,000 signatures.

Mr Drum said: “The family has got the backing of the local community –I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

“As local MPs we get lots of requests in this regard and my first answer is always to refuse a letter of recommendation for people that I haven’t met.

“I went against my strict rule in relation to letters of support in this case.  I’ve only done that on the back of a strong letter of recommendation from the school where Christine Hyde works.”

Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews says the Hydes should be allowed to stay in Australia.

Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews says the Hydes should be allowed to stay in Australia.

The Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews has also thrown his support behind the Hydes saying “They’re effectively Aussies.”

The Labor MP said: “This is a great family.  They’ve been SES volunteers and school teachers in their local schools, they’ve have contributed over the past 10 years.

“The young boy was born here, some compassion and some common sense (is needed).

“There’ll be some costs for the medical treatment he needs, but there will be so many more benefits to Seymour, to that local community and indeed for all of us.”

Christine and Anthony Hyde applied for permanent residency in 2015 before Darragh was born.

Shortly after his birth, the toddler was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and their application was rejected on the basis that his illness would be a burden on the state.

The family argued that Darragh’s condition is mild and have doctors reports to back that up.

They also argued that Darragh is Australian born and therefore should not be forced to leave..

“Darragh is Australian –he was born in Australia and has never set foot out of Australia.  He’s never been to Ireland.  It’s really unfair,” explained Christine.

Christine Hyde told The Irish Echo the message she would like to get to the minister.

"Just read the case. Just read our story. Just take it in, read the facts and make a decision: Yes or no. I believe any person that reads our case, like the many others who have, that have a heart and have a bit of compassion will see the unique circumstances around our situation and will say ‘yes’. But I don't even know if they're going to read our case,” she said.

Federal Minister for Immigration David Coleman has the power to allow the Hydes to remain in Australia.

Federal Minister for Immigration David Coleman has the power to allow the Hydes to remain in Australia.

"I have no idea what we're doing. i honestly don't know where to begin. There's parts of me that says, 'It will be fine, don't worry about it'. Then there's parts of you thinking, 'What if we're not? Do we need to start packing?' Where do we begin with this? This is our home of ten years, how do you begin to pack that up in 28 days? We still have to work. We can't just stop life either so I don't know where we are with it at all.

"You don't want to get to a point where you've got ten days and it's a no. Who can pack up in ten days? Get out of the lease and sell a few cars, it's not realistic.

"If they just gave us an answer at least we would have some time to sort things out. There's no point giving us an answer on 17th June when we're supposed to be out of the country on the 18th.

"You have to have that in the back of your head and worry about it as well. We don't want to be seen as the people who overstayed a visa or anything like that. It's not us, we want to follow the request. if the request is to leave by the 18th of June, so be it. We'll do that. Don't tell us on 17th June that the answer is a ‘no’, that you're not going to intervene.

"Now there's a timeline on it, now we have an end date to this, it's like, 'Come on'. I don't know what to do."

“We don’t want to be seen as the people who overstayed a visa or anything like that. It’s not us, we want to follow the request. if the request is to leave by June 18, so be it. We’ll do that. Don’t tell us on 17th June that the answer is a no, that you’re not going to intervene,” she said.

With additional reporting by David Hennessy

Will changes to regional skilled visa pathway affect me?

John McQuaid answers your immigration questions.

John McQuaid answers your immigration questions.

Hi John, I’m sponsored on a temporary 482 visa working for my employer in Dubbo western NSW. I’m eligible to be nominated for permanent residency in December this year but now I’ve heard the permanent 187 visa is being closed in November. Is this true? What can I do? Jarleth T

Dear Jarleth, Yes, in early April, Immigration announced a number of changes to the Regional Skilled visa program.

‘Regional’ for the most part means any area in Australia outside Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. As part of the changes the Regional Sponsored Migration Stream (RSMS) 187 visa path will close on November 16, 2019. However, there are transitional arrangements or exemptions for anyone who holds or applied for a 482 visa on or before March 20, 2019.

If the above dates apply to you, you will still be able to apply for the 187 visas after November. The exemptions will also apply to anyone who holds or applied for the old 457 visas on or before April 17, 2017. You could also consider whether you can meet the requirements to apply for the 187 earlier via the Direct Entry Stream. This option does not require you to have worked for the employer on the 482/457 visa but may require you to first obtain a migration skills assessment that can be expensive and time consuming to get. See https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/regional-sponsor-migration-scheme-187

The 186 Employer Nomination Scheme permanent visa may also be an option. This has different requirements for the employer and a small nomination application fee.

The new regional visa options will begin on November 16, 2019. Two new temporary visas are the 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored and the 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa.

Both will offer a pathway to the new permanent 191 visa but only after three years on the temporary visa. The employer sponsorship process for the 494 visas will operate a bit like the current 482 visas but the 494 will be a five-year visa and all occupations will have a pathway to the permanent 191 visas. More occupations will be added but these are yet to be announced.

The points tested temporary 491 skilled visa will require nomination by a state government or a family relative living in a designated regional area.

Additional points will be available that might make the option more attractive in this competitive arena. Additional points include: 15 points for state or family sponsorship; 10 points for a skilled partner; 5 points for a partner with competent English, and 10 points for applicants without a partner.

Both these temporary visas will cost $3,755 for the primary applicant, the same fees as a current PR application, but then the 191 PR application three years later will be a mere $385.

Additional fees will apply for each family member: $1,875 for partners and $940 for children.

So, while the initial fees are high, the overall cost of the 494 to 191 visas compared to the current 482 to 187/186 visa will be much lower.

When the new visas start it is intended that any area excluding Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Perth will be designated as a regional area. Regional visa holders may live in any designated regional area and can move between designated regional areas. The myriad changes to visa rules this year are complex.

Consider asking a registered migration agent for help with assessment of your eligibility.

John McQuaid is an Irish-born registered migration agent. Send him your questions here.

Skilled migrants facing tougher path to residency

Australia’s political leaders are nervous about immigration levels.

Australia’s political leaders are nervous about immigration levels.

Skilled workers looking to get sponsored by Australian companies face a more treacherous path to permanent residency no matter who gets elected this weekend.

Both Labor and the Coalition are promising further restrictions to temporary skilled visa holders and stricter rules for businesses looking to sponsor foreign workers.

Labor are under pressure from the union movement to protect Aussie jobs. The coalition has linked congestion problems in Australia’s biggest cities to high immigration numbers.

Labor has pledged to increase the minimum pay rate for foreign workers on skilled visas from $53,900 to $65,000 “to ensure it is not cheaper to bring in an overseas worker than pay a local worker.”

Immigration expert John McQuaid said this measure would hit workers in the hospitality industry hardest.

He said: “Unsurprisingly, the parties are not pandering to those on temporary visas because they can’t vote.

“With the raising of income on 457-styles visa, areas like hospitality and the service industry would be hurt most because they’ve been historically lower paid.  Café and restaurant staff and managers will find it tougher to get sponsored if this happens.”

The number of Irish workers applying for skilled visas in Australia is falling.

The number of Irish workers applying for skilled visas in Australia is falling.

A tightening of immigration rules and the ending of the 457 visa programme last year has made it more difficult for skilled workers to get sponsored by employers.

Figures from the Department of Home Affairs show 1,470 primary applications for a skilled visa were granted to Irish people up to June 30, 2018.

This was a 22 per cent fall on the previous year when 1,900 Irish people were granted a skilled visa.

The coalition government introduced Labor Market Testing to ensure Australians are always given priority for local jobs.  Employers can only bring in overseas workers if they can not find a suitable local candidate.

Businesses who hire a foreign worker must also pay upwards of $1,200 into a training fund for Australian workers.

If elected, Labor says it will clampdown on employers who “artificially inflate salaries” by offering foreign workers substandard accommodation and inflated overtime hours.

It also plans to “restrict temporary work visas to jobs where there is a genuine skills shortage” and to introduce what it calls the Australian Jobs Test to prevent labour agreements from being entered into unless they create jobs for local workers.

It will also crack down on “unqualified temporary workers” with mandatory off-shore testing of foreign workers skills before a visa can be issued.

Extra funds will be used to increase workplace inspections and investigate employers who breach work visa regulations.

Would-be migrants prepared to live and work in rural areas for three years have a more linear path towards permanent residency.

Would-be migrants prepared to live and work in rural areas for three years have a more linear path towards permanent residency.

While these measures will make it more challenging to get sponsored, a new regional visa programme offers new opportunities for Irish people willing to move to rural areas.

Unveiled by the Liberal government in March, the new scheme offers 23,000 visas for skilled workers who are willing to live and work in regional Australia.

After three years of regional work, visa holders can apply for permanent residency.

Skilled migrants will be priority processed and can access a larger pool of jobs on the eligible occupation lists compared to those who live in major cities.

John McQuaid said the regional visas, which will be available from November 2019, offer new opportunities for Irish people who are willing to look beyond the big cities.

“There’s going to be additional occupations on the list for people willing to apply for regional visas. It will open up options for some people who previously didn’t qualify,” he explained.

“It could also be an attractive option for Irish people who grew up in rural Ireland who are much more at home in rural Australia than in the big cities and there’s plenty of promise in regional locations.”

While the regional visas offer a possible new pathway in, the Liberals have reduced the permanent migration cap by 15 per cent from 190,000 to 160,000 for the next four years.

Labor also believes an intake of 160,000 permanent migrants each year is “about right”.

Scott Morrison also hopes to attract more students to study in regional Australia with $15,000 scholarships being offered to 1,000 domestic and international students.

International students who study at regional universities can apply for an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa.

Labor plan to relax grandparent visa scheme

Labor have promised to make it easier and cheaper for immigrants to bring their parents to Australia.

Labor have promised to make it easier and cheaper for immigrants to bring their parents to Australia.

Labor has promised to make it easier for immigrants to bring their elderly parents to Australia.

The new 870 visa allows older parents to “reunite” with their children and grandchildren in Australia for extended periods.

If elected on Saturday, Labor has promised to reduce the cost of a five year visa from $10,000 to $2,500 while a three year visa would decrease from $5,000 to $1,250.

The ALP has also pledged to remove the current cap of 15,000 visa places which would allow expat families to ‘sponsor’ both sets of parents instead of being restricted to just one set under existing visa regulations.

The Sponsored Parent Temporary Visa 870 was introduced last month by the Coalition government to allow Australian citizens or permanent residents to move their parents here for extended periods.

The 870 visa allows elderly parents to live here on a three or five year visa for a maximum of 10 years but does not allow them to work.

There is no minimum or maximum age limit for parents who wish to apply but they must show they have sufficient funds to support themselves whilst living here.

Those wishing to avail of these visas will need to take out private health insurance as they will not be covered by Medicare.

The child who is sponsoring the visa also commits to covering any health or age related expenses that may be incurred by their parents whilst living in Australia and must first be approved as a sponsor before a parent being can apply for the visa.   The sponsorship application fee is $420.

The sponsor must undergo police checks and have a minimum household income of $83,454 to qualify.

The new 870 visa allows Australian residents to ‘sponsor’ their parents to come to Australia for up to five years.

The new 870 visa allows Australian residents to ‘sponsor’ their parents to come to Australia for up to five years.

Applications from sponsors opened on April 17, and if approved, parents can apply for the 870 visa from July 1.

Unlike other parent visas, the 870 visa does not require the parent to meet the Balance of Family rule.

But the parent must have a child who holds Australian citizenship or permanent residency.

Immigration expert John McQuaid said the visas are attractive for Irish families who have permanent residency and would like to bring grandparents over to spend more time with grandchildren

He said: “It’s very attractive for couples in Australia who are starting to have children and would like to bring the grandparents out to help mind the children or just to spend quality time with their grandkids.

“The downside is there are no work rights for the grandparents and the family have to be able to show they have financial capacity to look after the grandparents while they are here.

“It’s a big financial commitment not to work for 3 or 5 years but it does suit some older grandparents who are retired and have good pensions.”

McQuaid said the new parent visas are in “big demand” and urged anyone who is interested to apply immediately as the quota will be filled quickly.

Applications for parents to apply (once their child has been approved as sponsor) open on July 1 and once filled, it will not re-open again until July the following year.

It’s very attractive for couples in Australia who are starting to have children and would like to bring the grandparents out to help mind the children or just to spend quality time with their grandkids.
— Immigration expert John McQuaid

The Liberal party has branded Labor’s proposal to remove the 15,000 cap if elected as “completely unsustainable.”

The Productivity Commission has estimated that the cost to taxpayers of a permanent parent visa holder was between $335,000 and $410,000 per adult.

John McQuaid has warned voters to take election promises on immigration with “a pinch of salt.”

He said: “When it comes to election time, immigration is a real political football –both parties love to shout about how they are going to fix the immigration situation.  Its electioneering. 

“If they (Labor) uncap the parent visas, Australia would be flooded with old people and it’s highly unlikely that would happen in my view.

“I think they might increase the quota but I can’t see them totally removing the cap.”

More details on how to apply for the 870 visa are available here.