UPDATE REGARDING ELIGIBLE SPOUSES AND PARTNERS OF GENERAL EMPLOYMENT PERMIT AND INTRA-COMPANY TRANSFEREE IRISH EMPLOYMENT PERMIT HOLDERS

EXCLUSION OF NON-EEA FISHERMEN FROM THE LONG-TERM RESIDENCE SCHEME

The Atypical Worker Permission Scheme for non-EEA fishers states the non-EEA migrants need an Irish work permit, visa or immigration permission to work on a fishing vessel that operates in or passes through Ireland’s territorial water or docks at an Irish port.

To qualify for the scheme, a non-EEA fisherman must be directly employed by the holder of a sea-fishing boat license in Ireland for at least 12 months. To switch to a different sea-fishing employer, non-EEA fishermen must complete an online application form. This form takes at least 20 days to process with no guarantee of approval. A Government Task Force appointed to investigate the Atypical Working Scheme for non-EEA crew noted that the procedures in place for changing one’s employer on their fishing permit are not reliable in practice.

Prospective workers admitted to the Atypical Worker Scheme for non-EEA crew in the Irish fishing fleet are unable to seek work in Ireland in a different industry, regardless of how long they have been working in the State. Limited supervision of the fishing industry leaves workers, especially non-EEA and migrant fishers, vulnerable to unfair and dangerous working conditions.

It is our belief that persons who are working in Ireland in the fishing industry on the basis of the atypical permissions scheme are being treated less favourably and are suffering disproportionate prejudice by being restricted to their employers indefinitely.

We note that the holders of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders receive stamp 4 permission after two years employment and holders of General Employment Permits receive Stamp 4 after 5 years of employment.

We note that persons eligible for regularization under the Minister’s Scheme for Undocumented people will receive Stamp 4 permission and free access to the labour market.

Meanwhile, it appears that there is no pathway for persons resident in Ireland as fishermen under the  a atypical scheme to move on to Stamp 4 permission after several years of legal residence and employment in the State.

There is no rationale as to why fishermen resident as atypical workers do not receive the same employment and residence opportunities. We see no lawful reason to restrict non-EEA fishers from progressing their careers in the State. We submit it is dangerous and unhelpful that the residency of non-EEA fishermen in Ireland rests completely on their continued employment with one employer only.