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Foreign workers struggling with immigration card renewal delays


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Foreign workers struggling with immigration card renewal delays

From the Galway City Tribune – A leading member of the Bangladeshi community in Galway has called for a return to ‘normal’ at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

Asraf Chowdhury, an Irish citizen originally from Bangladesh, said since Covid-19, nationals from outside the European Union and European Economic Area have to wait three months on average to renew their Irish Residency Permit (IRP) card.

This was impacting non-EU/EEA nationals from countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, America and Canada who work in Galway’s hospitals and multinationals.

It was also impacting third level international students, said Mr Chowdhury, who lives in Knocknacarra.

He explained that non-EU/EEA nationals in Galway have become frustrated with delays in the renewals process since Covid-19, which has left some people in limbo, unable to return to their native countries for family emergencies or funerals.

A new appointment system to renew residency permits was introduced by GNIB during Covid-19 restrictions.

“Since then, anyone required to renew their visa must email GNIB, Galway for a renewal appointment request.

“All non-EU/EEA nationals who have entered the State must register with their local Garda National Immigration Bureau office within 90 days of arrival.

“In the Galway GNIB office it takes an average of eight weeks to get an appointment and another three weeks after the appointment to get the IRP card.

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“Within this three-month waiting period, non-EU/EEA nationals cannot leave the state, no matter what the emergency. It gets worst when in some cases, some visas are granted only for a few months, but their visa gets expired before the GNIB registration,” said Mr Chowdhury.

This situation was causing “pure frustration” for non-EU/EEA nationals.

“All Covid restrictions have been normalised in Ireland but apparently, this is the only system that can’t go back to regular operation. We just want the system to go back to normal, like it was before Covid,” he added.

Mr Chowdhury is a chef and secretary of the Knocknacarra branch of Fine Gael. He plans to run in next year’s Local Elections.

The Department of Justice said applications for renewals are accepted up to 12 weeks prior to expiry to allow sufficient time for processing.

It said employers should note that if an employee’s IRP has expired, and they are unable to get a renewal by the expiry date of their current permit, they can remain in the State on the existing conditions of their existing IRP for a maximum of eight weeks.

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