Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why Irish Emigrants Find It Hard to Go Home

Re: "The Lights Can Be Turned Back On For Emigrants" (Irish Times, Opinion, January 3rd, 2012). I'm glad to see Paul Bradfield's request that the government act to ensure that emigrants can return to Ireland, but would like to point out several new difficulties for returning emigrants. Many of us emigrated in early adulthood and found spouses in foreign lands. Now that both the Irish Constitution and immigration law have been changed, our spouses no longer automatically qualify for Irish citizenship, meaning that they cannot seek employment in Ireland until registered there. That in turn means that returning emigrants must support their spouses until they are registered and can seek work, which could well take a year or more. It's already almost impossible to support a family on a single income.
To add to the returning emigrants' woes, should they be returning with children of college age, they will find that their children do not qualify for free or reduced fees, even if they are Irish citizens, and the family has only been out of the country for three years. This will make them responsible for annual fees, per student, of anywhere between €12000 and €31000.
Given obstacles such as these, I rather think emigrants will prefer to stay abroad.

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