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Pandemic shatters dreams of international students who come to study in Ireland; students call for visa extension

DUBLIN: The opportunity to work in graduate level employment is a major reason why international students come to Ireland for their education. The Third Level Graduate Programme allows non-EEA students who have finished their studies in Ireland to remain in the country and seek graduate-level employment. But thousands of international students, including Indians, are now concerned that they will miss out on this opportunity.

Students from different countries come here in the hope that they will be able to find a job related to what they have studied before their visa expires. Unfortunately, the pandemic has shattered their hopes, and as a result, many of them are unemployed, working without pay, or working in fields that do not correspond to what they have studied. Only a few companies were hiring during pandemic, so most graduates were unable to obtain the career they desire.

The majority of students’ graduate work visas will expire in the coming months, and they have sought for extensions in order to find their desired profession. Over 7,000 people have signed an online petition in demand of a graduate visa extension.

Graduated… but no use

Suchita Rani from India graduated with an MBA from Ireland but had to end up in a job that was not related with her studies. Her visa will expire in October, but she wants to extend it to prove her worth to an Irish firm and to the economy.

Ms. Rani says that now the country’s economy has started to recover and that companies have resumed hiring, but that it is hard to get job and establish oneself in just three months. “International students contribute a lot to the Irish economy, we deserve a fair chance,” she said.

Pablo Muller from Argentina completed his Masters in International Business last year but was unable to find a job and was forced to do unpaid internships. He wants to pursue a career in what he studied, so he requests a 12-month visa extension.

“We don’t want unskilled work, if we invest our money here, we want to be recognised as equals and have the same opportunities,” he said. Mr. Muller also said that Ireland is an attractive destination for international students due to the presence of numerous multinational corporations.

Irish Council for International Students calls for an extension of visas

The Irish Council for International Students backed non-EEA students’ demands, saying that they “pay almost five or six times what Irish or EU students do” yet are not recognised.

“In many cases, they have been working in frontline services that have been really important to Ireland in difficult times. We’ve heard of people who’ve done an MBA or accountancy working as carers,” said Brian Hearne. He says the government should recognize their contribution by extending their visas for an additional 11 months.

Department of Justice recognises student’s situation

The Department of Justice recognised that, as a result of the Pandemic, some students may have been unable to secure graduate level work before their Stamp 1G permission expires.

In a statement, the department said that, in order to assist such international students, it “will consider applications for an extension of their Stamp 1G immigration permission on a case-by-case basis”.

More than 16,800 students are on a stamp IG or graduate work visa, indicating that they have completed their studies in Ireland and are eligible to seek employment under the Third Level Graduate Programme. The students are generally permitted to work here for between one and two years.

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