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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 14°C
rakkhi via Flickr
Column ‘Unprecedented surge’ – a US lawyer’s view on Irish immigration
Limerick-born immigration lawyer Caro Kinsella gives the view from the US – as well as her tips for any Irish people looking to head Stateside.

BORN AND RAISED in Limerick, where my family still lives today, I studied in Cork as well as London before heading to the US to practise law. My family always comes first, so I return home whenever I can. Recently, the harsh economic situation in Ireland has become increasingly more, therefore my most recent trip home was dedicated to lending a helping hand at the Jobs Expo in Dublin.

My office has seen a significant increase in the number of Irish people seeking economic refuge in the US. Traditionally, about 25-35 per cent of our business comes from Irish citizens looking to move and work in the US, but in the past year we have seen an unprecedented surge in Irish applicants.

In past years, it was not uncommon for young Irish people to come over to the US on J1 summer visas. However, currently it is not just the students coming over to work in bars and pubs. There is not just one demographic or age group of Irish that are heading to America anymore – there are people now applying from all fields and educational backgrounds. My office is no longer just dealing with college-aged singles. We are helping families, young people, older individuals and everyone in between.

Ireland is in an economic crisis and people are looking for a way out, regardless of age and education background. I have been working with other influential Irish nationals on lobbying a new bill for the US government. This new bill will bring much-needed help to Irish nationals. It is important to the Irish people who are at home struggling and who need job opportunities in the US like the ones our proposed bill affords.

20,000 visas

Currently the bill is in its final stages of planning. Our proposal provides aid for both skilled and unskilled workers. With US elections upcoming, now more than ever is the perfect time to put this initiative forward. The new bill if passed would provide 20,000 visas annually exclusively to Irish people, allowing Irish nationals to lawfully work and live in the US.

Alongside lobbying this bill we have also created a petition to raise support and public awareness. Each signature brings us one step closer making this bill a law and providing Irish people the opportunities they need. You can click on this link to sign up.

People often think that it is particularly difficult to emigrate to the US. It is a common misconception that it is very difficult to for immigrants to apply – but it’s not. Every country has to have its parameters, but to enter the US you just have to do your homework and contact the right people.

Compared to some countries like Canada, where there is a cut-off point for the amount of visas given, there is no cut-off in America. Also age is not an issue (in some countries, if you are trying to get a visa you cannot be over a certain age) so in that regard it is better.

The best advice that I can give to people searching for work here is that it is much better to come over for a week and knock on doors rather than just sending CVs. People who make that effort are the people that are actually finding jobs.

Irish loyalty

Moreover, Irish-American businesses over here are looking to hire Irish people. They hear that Irish accent and they are always going to be loyal to the people back home.

In terms of American employers, I don’t think they are particularly looking to employ just Americans; they want the best person for the job. If you say to an employer that you don’t have papers yet but that you show an interest and are determined for the job then they will usually facilitate you and help you with whatever you need.

Approach Irish businesses. The common misconception is that they are just in New York and the larger cities – but there are many in other States, they are all over. They are always looking to help.

There is also a voluntary organization that is particularly helpful for those contemplating a life in the US. Set up by three Irish businessmen, aims to help new arrivals find employment by connecting them to all the influential Irish organisations in New York in order to put them in front of potential employers.

I act as their in-house attorney and they are great at helping newcomers coming over and putting people in touch with others that can help. They are always interested in helping people out in the Irish community. For newcomers coming over it can be daunting so it is really great for people to have contacts that can help them out when they arrive.

While emigration is not the answer to Ireland’s economic woes, this initiative is a short term measure that could ease the pain for thousands who need jobs. America is not a world away, and there are people eager to help – the Irish in America will always give a helping hand to those across the pond.

Caro Kinsella is an immigration lawyer, originally from Limerick and now living in Florida. You can learn more at her website here.

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