Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Dublin Government Must Approach US Government on Visa Waiver Scheme - Flanagan

Published: 16 March, 2015

Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has called on the Dublin Government to make a formal request to the US Government and to the new US ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O'Malley for three-year and ten-year 'unlawful presence bars' for undocumented Irish citizens living in the US to be waived.

The waiver, which is already available to Mexican citizens, would enable the Irish who would otherwise be barred from returning to the states for three or ten years upon traveling outside of the US, a chance to begin the legal process of residency in the US without being side-lined for the 3 or 10 years.

The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA was speaking after he attended a video conference in Dublin regarding the Irish undocumented in the United States organised by representatives from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) including the Chairman Ciarán Staunton, the Executive Director Deirdre Hickey, Publisher Niall O'Dowd and Mr Michael McMahon.

Mr Flanagan said:

"I welcome this initiative from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, an organisation that continues to campaign on behalf of our undocumented citizens in America. It is quite clear that what is required here is a political initiative from the Dublin government to address what is a serious issue for a substantial number of Irish citizens.

"Far too many of our people are in America with a good job as well as strong family links and friendships built up over many years. It is devastating that so many people can't come home for funerals or other family occasions and provision should be made to facilitate them through this visa waiver scheme.

"I have today written to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan urging him to formally approach the US administration to put in place this visa waiver scheme."