Work Visa Scheme for non-EEA crewmen for the Fishing Industry
In light of the recent articles in the Guardian Newspaper, which was covered far and wide, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Simon Coveney TD, led a task force which has published details of a new scheme for work permits for non EEA fishermen working here in Ireland and indeed a scheme that will exist into the future.
The scheme promises to address the chronic labour problem that has existed in the industry for years.
It should be commented that the scheme was announced only weeks after the Industry was put under the microscope and the speed of movement by the Minister on this issue is highly commendable.
Principles of the scheme
1. The scheme will permit the employment of a maximum of 500 non-EEA workers at any given time.
2. During the first 3 months after the commencement of the scheme, the granting of permissions will be limited to non-EEA crew already operating in Ireland on fishing vessels.
3. At least 50 per cent of the members of the crew must be nationals of any of the Member States of the European Union.
4. All crew from non-EEA countries must be employed directly under a written contract of employment for duration of 12 months.The minimum conditions of employment under the contract will be set out as a condition of the granting of an Atypical Worker Permission.
5. Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 and, in particular, the National Minimum Wage Acts, 2000 and 2015 as regards rates of pay, the European Communities (Workers on Board Sea-Going Fishing Vessels) (Organisation of Working Time) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 709/2003).
6. The contract shall make provision for repatriation at the expense of the employer of the crew member on ending of the contract.
7. A contract of employment must commit to payment of annual wages of not less than the National Minimum Wage (PAYE and PRSI) based on 39 hours per week for 52 weeks and must provide for the payment of pro-rata wages, at least monthly, including during periods of boat tie-up.
8. Prior to an application for an Atypical Worker Permission by the Applicant crewman, a Solicitor, acting on behalf of the licence holder (employer), must submit to the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, the contract of employment, including supporting documentation, and supply a certificate confirming that it meets all the conditions of the scheme and is legally valid and enforceable in the State.
9. After the Employee has started work, a certificate that the employment has commenced must be provided by the solicitor acting on behalf of the licence holder (employer) within 10 days to the Department.
10.Where the contract ends prematurely, the employer must notify the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service without delay.
11. Where the contract is breached by the licence holder (employer), no further Atypical Worker Permission will be made available to the licence holder (employer).
12. The Atypical Worker Permission will be removed/invalidated where the contract is breached by the employee (crew member) and no further Atypical Worker Permission will be granted to that person.
Atypical Worker Permission
The principals of the scheme references Atypical Worker Permission on a number of occasions.
Structure of the Existing Scheme
Under this scheme you may apply for a work visa 3 months before the application.
This is not relevant for those workers already here.
The application can be filled out on-line and may be submitted by either the employer or the employee.
It is suggested that given the principals set out in the newly announced scheme, the Employer is best placed to apply as the responsibility at all times falls on the Employer.
Any false information can lead to a restriction for 5 years on making an application.
At present, under the existing Scheme, the fees are as follows:
Some Countries are exempt but the list does not include Egypt or the Philippines. It is best to pay the by Electronic Transfer.
If you are applying under the existing Scheme you are looking at 8 weeks.
It is not known how long the applications will take for those fishermen who are already here. Given the initial three month window, it would appear to me that 4-6 weeks is more likely from the making of the application.
All documentation must be original and any documents that are not in English must be translated.
Any translation provided must come with a translators certification.
1. Two colour passport sized photographs not more than 6 months old, name a visa application reference number on the back.
2. A signed letter of application including your full contact details, outlining your reason for wanting to come to Ireland,
stating how long you intend to stay, giving details of any members of your family who are currently in Ireland, or any other EU Member State,
providing details of where you intend to stay while you are in Ireland, and undertaking that you will observe the conditions of your visa, that you will not become a burden on the State, and that you will leave the State on the expiry of your permission to remain.
3. Valid Atypical Working Scheme Approval Letter with Accompanying Solicitors certificate as per the new scheme.
4. Under the existing scheme the applicant must show Evidence of your obligations to return to your country of permanent residence.The new scheme at present provides that the Owner/Employer is responsible for repatriation. This clause may therefore not be necessary to fulfil for applicants within the Fishing Industry.
5. Medical/Travel Insurance (this is at the point of entry). For applicants already here, it will have to be shown at the time of application.
Given the three month window it is possible that there will be a strict limited window within which those Fishermen who are non EEA already in Ireland will have to apply for the Permits.
Owner and Fishermen alike should keep a close eye on this.
Once this window closes the application system will revert to presuming that the intended visa recipient is applying from outside the State.
Applications received after the window has closed will be in difficulty if the applicant is already in Ireland as they are starting off as an illegal immigrant.
Such a status can be enough to allow the INIS (Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service) to refuse the application.
Please contact Dermot Conway, Solicitor, Partner, Conways Solicitors.
Phone: 021 4901000
* please note that this article represents a summary of the main issues and is not a complete guide in any way. Please contact Dermot Conway, Solicitor, for more details and for any assistance in dealing with an application.