Friday 19 January 2018

Returning emigrants warned of hidden costs and homeless risk

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Jane O'Faherty

Irish people wishing to return home after moving abroad still face major barriers, a leading emigration advice service has said.

Rising rental prices, higher insurance costs and visa fees for spouses and children all await emigrants who want to come back, with some even at risk of becoming homeless.

It comes as CSO figures revealed there has been a 74pc increase in the number of Irish citizens choosing to return.

Danielle McLaughlin, policy officer with the Crosscare Migrant Project, said the organisation offered support to those struggling with the process of coming back.

"We have had an increase in calls in relation to people with family members - spouses or their children born in another country," she told the Irish Independent.

She also said that 248 individuals called the service in relation to coming home between July 2015 and March 2016.

"The top countries they were coming home from were the UK, the United States of America and Australia," she added.

While each caller had different reasons for seeking support, Ms McLaughlin said that some were even on the brink of homelessness.

"A lot of the issues would be accessing emergency accommodation for people returning in crisis," she said.

"Some people are not fully aware of the housing crisis in Dublin.

"They need that support when they can't get accommodation."

Meanwhile, others seek help with bureaucratic tasks such as applying for visas for non-Irish family members.

Read more: Shane Coleman: The grass looks a bit greener at home - but returning emigrants won't get much from their political leaders

"A lot of the issues are when someone has a partner who is not Irish, in particular those from visa-required countries, like the USA or Canada," she said.

"This family would have to enter Ireland and apply for residency here. That could take up to six months and the partner would not be able to work."

Ms McLaughlin urged those considering coming back to Ireland to be aware of any processes and costs they may face at home.

"There are flight costs, but they will also need their first month's rent and a deposit, if they are going for rental accommodation. They should look at the job market here, and look at their qualifications," she said, adding that they may need to check if their qualifications are valid in Ireland.

At present, there are several fees that returning Irish citizens must consider when coming home.

Car insurance is one of the most expensive factors when returning home, and some providers do not accept 'no claims bonuses' from another state.

Other costs include citizenship fees, which can be €1,125 for non-Irish adults and €375 for minors.

Meanwhile, passport fees start from €80 for an adult and €16 for a child.

Shipping costs for furniture or other heavy goods from Australia can range from €849 to €1,526.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it was "acutely aware" of the administrative and financial challenges faced by returning emigrants.

The spokesperson added that an inter-departmental committee had been set up to address those challenges.

The department also said it had provided €11.5m worth of funding to support services for the returning diaspora in 2016, and also encouraged people to consult the Global Irish Hub on its website.

Irish Independent

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