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Question

455. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice if she has considered allocating work visas for foreign students who worked and contributed to the economy throughout the pandemic but now struggle to access work visas and permits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55580/21]

456. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice if she will consider introducing a couples visa to allow only one member of the couple to study rather than the current requirement of both partners to enrol in a college; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55581/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I propose to take Questions Nos. 455 and 456 together.
My Department has responsibility for immigration-related matters, including the entry and residence conditions of non-EEA students, who are granted a Stamp 2 immigration permission, and continually consults and engages with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, among other key sectoral stakeholders, in this area.
The conditions attaching to all immigration permissions are kept under ongoing review by my Department with all relevant stakeholders. However, any changes to the work entitlements of non-EEA students would be a policy decision for the wider stakeholder group.
Those in the State on a Stamp 2 student permission are not require to make an application for an employment permit. Their primary purpose for being in the State is as a student. However, since April 2001, non-EEA students with an immigration Stamp 2 permission, and who are enrolled on courses with education providers listed on the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) including English language courses, have been afforded the opportunity to work.
This allows them to take up casual employment to supplement their income while studying in Ireland. During term time, non-EEA students can work up to 20 hours per week and during normal college holiday periods they can work on a full time basis up to 40 hours per week.
In September, a final temporary extension of immigration and international protection permissions to 15 January 2022 was announced. This applies to permissions that are due to expire between 21 September 2021 and 15 January 2022 and includes permissions that have already been extended by the previous seven temporary extensions since March 2020.
A Frequently Asked Questions document on the practical arrangements of the extension is available on my Department's Irish Immigration website at: www.irishimmigration.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/FAQs-Extension-of-Permissions-Sep-2021.pdf.
In addition, the Third Level Graduate Programme provides that when an applicant has completed their studies in Ireland and gained an award at Level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) or above, that person may qualify for a Stamp 1G for 12 months. Where an individual receives an award at Level 9 NFQ, they may qualify for a Stamp 1G for up to 24 months subject to the overall limit of 8 years on student conditions that applies.
Following that, graduates will require an employment permit in order to remain and work in the State. As the Deputy is aware, employment permits are a matter for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
All applications for visas or an immigration permission are made on an individual basis and there are no provisions to allow for a multi family member visa or immigration permission. People entering the State under student conditions are not entitled to family reunification. Any family member wishing to travel or accompany the student, would have to make an application for a visa or an immigration permission in their own right. Question No. 456 answered with Question No. 455.