Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

President Trump's clampdown on immigrants sees Irish graduates refused US visas

Ornua chairman Aaron Forde
Ornua chairman Aaron Forde
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

President Trump's clampdown on immigrants has already sent staff in top Irish food companies back home to Ireland.

Speaking at a Brexit conference last Friday, Aaron Forde (pictured), the chairman of Ornua said five Ornua graduates have already been refused visas by the US immigration service.

In addition, two staff that were already stationed in the US were initially refused a renewal of their visas. Both, along with one of the graduates, have since succeeded in securing the required documents.

"It's the first time that we've ever had this problem in nearly 30 years doing business in the US," said Mr Forde.

"It's been very disappointing for us and the first sign of a very different regime."

The visa applications were refused prior to the US president's inauguration, but Mr Forde insisted that the regime had already begun to prepare for President Trump's policy shift on immigrants.

An Ornua spokes- person told the Farming Independent the situation was likely to become more serious as more staff H-1B visas come due for renewal over the coming months.

Over 40 Irish staff are employed by the dairy board, some of whom have been based in the US for more than 20 years.

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Ornua - the former Irish Dairy Board - markets over 20,000 tonnes of Irish cheese and butter in the US annually and, over the last two decades, has built Kerrygold into the third biggest brand of butter there. It is a key target market for the extra volumes of Irish milk products following the sector's expansion recent years.

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