For Written Answer on : 29/06/2021
Question Number(s): 282 Question Reference(s): 34566/21
Department: Foreign Affairs
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs when he expects his Department to resume the processing of working holiday authorisations from Canada and the United States of America; if Irish embassies in these countries are currently accepting such applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Working Holiday Authorisations (WHAs) play an important role in building Ireland’s bilateral relations with the United States, Canada and a number of other non-European countries and regions with which we have reciprocal agreements. As Minister, I am fully supportive of the objectives of the Working Holiday programmes and their important contribution in promoting people-to-people contacts, and am keen to see the programmes resume once circumstances allow.
Since the onset of the pandemic, we have temporarily ceased processing new applications under the WHA programmes in the United States and Canada. While the relevant Missions in the United States and Canada continue to accept applications for WHAs, processing of applications is paused until circumstances sufficiently improve to allow the safe resumption of these two programmes. Submitted applications will remain on file and will be processed once operations resume. A primary concern remains the health, welfare and well-being of those who would seek to travel to Ireland on a WHA. A range of public health restrictions remain in place in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Ireland. This situation is kept under regular review, and the Department will continue to monitor the situation in Ireland, in conjunction with colleagues in other relevant Departments, with a view to re-opening these programmes as soon as circumstances allow.
At the present time, it is the view that circumstances do not yet allow for the processing of new WHA applications in a manner consistent with public health guidance and the aims of these two WHA programmes.
We continue to monitor the evolving situation here and in the United States and Canada, in terms particularly of public health advice, travel restrictions, job opportunities and the availability of short-term accommodation. Our Missions in the United States and Canada will be instructed to resume processing applications when circumstances allow young people to benefit from a working holiday here and to fully experience Ireland’s culture and way of life. A public announcement will be made as soon as application processing resumes.