Congress and MRCI Welcome New Scheme for Undocumented Migrant Workers

14 Sep 2009

Congress and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) have welcomed the introduction, of a long awaited scheme to 'regularise' migrant workers who have become undocumented for reasons beyond their control.

The scheme ­ - announced today by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern - grants the opportunity for non-EEA migrant workers who have fallen out of the work permit system and become undocumented through workplace exploitation, deception, or unexpected redundancy, to apply for a four-month temporary residence permission. During this period individuals will be permitted to apply to re-enter the work permit system.

Over the past three years Congress and the MRCI have actively campaiged for the introduction of a scheme that has become commonly known as the "Bridging Visa", which would allow migrants who had become undocumented for reasons beyond their control an opportunity to get back into the system. There are no official figures as to the number of undocumented workers this scheme would benefit; however, MRCI estimates it could benefit several thousand.

Congress Official Esther Lynch said: "Condemning undocumented migrant workers to a life of fear benefits no one but abusive and exploitative employers. In that context, Congress welcomes this new scheme to help regularise the situation of those workers that have become undocumented through no fault of their own. It is a necessary first step and helps prevent the emergence of a working underclass that is without either hope or protection," she said.

MRCI Director, Siobhán O'Donoghue, says, "The government is on the right path towards fixing the problems created by a poorly designed immigration and work permit system. But this is only the first step towards regularising the estimated 30,000 undocumented persons in Ireland, many of whom have similar stories to the undocumented Irish in the U.S. A wider scheme is still needed to provide a pathway for them to come forward and be allowed to participate more fully and equally in Irish society."



Contacts: Esther Lynch, Congress Legal & Social Affairs Officer - 087 2222401


Edel McGinley (MRCI) 087 748 5695