By Conor Brummell
International Students for Change have submitted their petition to the Government, calling on them to better policies relating to healthcare, insurance and immigration status for students coming to Ireland for college.
According to the petition, “International students have not been adequately considered in Ireland’s Covid-19 response” and that students who moved to Ireland from other countries have face a myriad of problems because of this.
The petition was submitted to the Department of Education, Department of Justice, Department of Health and the Department of Further Education, Research, Innovation and Science.
The petition is calling on Minister McEntee to amend the following in Ireland’s Covid-19 response to International students:
Resolve the immigration appointment and application backlogs.
This could be accomplished through the implementation of a fast, secure, country-wide, fully online renewal process. To avoid passports being lost or held for excessive periods of time, this could be accomplished via a “sticker system,” whereby applicants submit their details online and are issued a “sticker” in the mail that makes their permit valid until the Covid crisis is over.
In addition to the online “sticker system,” issuing residence permits for non-EU students that last for the duration of a student’s study, as done in the United States and the Netherlands, would help improve the situation; additionally, removing the yearly renewal process would help with the immigration appointment backlogs.
As non-EU students are already under an obligation to report any change in detail and can only work 20 hours per week and thus would be unable to support themselves financially in Ireland’s high cost of living, there is little risk of these students using their residency cards to stay in Ireland under false pretences. In addition, these issues have been addressed through simple mechanisms already done in other EU countries.
Re-classify international students to avoid unreasonable healthcare costs.
Under no circumstances should students be forced to pay healthcare costs of 600+ euros following the Court of Appeal ruling (3). We therefore request that international students be declassified as Ordinary Residents.
Consider international students when making policy decisions.
Take care to consider issues concerning international students when making future decisions regarding residency, visas, GNIB, health, housing, and the overall Covid response, to prevent further issues from arising.
When contacted for a comment on the petition, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice told SIN that, “From the outset of the pandemic, the Department has worked to provide assistance and assurance to people who use our immigration services, including non-EEA students.
“While there have been some delays due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Department has continued to work steadily to deliver improvements to its immigration services. These include the introduction of an online process for the renewal of registrations for those based in Dublin; the removal of the requirement to submit a passport when renewing an Irish Residence Permit (IRP); pre-clearance schemes to allow customers to apply for residence permissions prior to travelling; the introduction of online forms and payments; renewed focus on eliminating processing backlogs in key areas; and working towards the delivery of a new more user-friendly website.
“Due to the restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, the Department also provided six extensions of Immigration permission to April 20th 2021 to provide some certainty to people who require an immigration permission to remain in the state.
“Issues in relation to the type and cost of health insurance for non-EEA students is a matter for the Department of Education and Skills and health insurance providers. Other policy developments in relation to non-EEA students are a matter for relevant sector stakeholders including the Department of Health, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and the Interim list of Eligible Programmes (ILEP),” the statement finished.
The Department of Health, the Department of Further Education, Research, Innovation and Science and the Department of Education were contacted for comment, however they had not replied at time of publication.
At the time of writing, the petition has 281 signatures.