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Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister (Tánaiste), Leo Varadkar, has said he wants to make the visa process easier for Colombians who want to study and work in the country.
Speaking at a St Patrick’s Day reception at the Irish ambassador’s residence in Bogotá, the Tánaiste stated that he would ‘love to see more Colombian students coming to Ireland to study in our universities, to learn English, to work if they want to.’
However, he acknowledged that the current visa regulations are rather restrictive for Colombians compared to those from other South American countries such as Argentina and Brazil.
Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Colombia’s Ministry for Education aimed at greater collaboration in higher education, Varadkar admitted that Ireland ‘can do better’ on visas but it is something he intends to address. ‘Colombians need a visa to come to Ireland, (they) have to pay for that visa, that’s not the case from a lot of other countries in Latin America, so that’s something I’ll try and improve or change and I’ve been in contact with Minister McEntee (Ireland’s Minister for Justice) about that already.’
The Tánaiste, who also serves as Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, said that while trade between the two countries is small, ‘there is scope for expansion’.
Deputy Prime Minister Varadkar officially opened Ireland’s embassy in Bogotá this week, an office that began operating in 2019, the same year that Colombia opened an embassy in Dublin.
Before visiting Colombia, Varadkar was in Chile where Ireland also has a new embassy. During his stay in Santiago, he attended the inauguration of the country’s new president, the leftist Gabriel Boric. ‘Potentially, he represents a new generation of left-wing leaders in South America. Even though he comes from the student protests, the radical left, he has been very clear on Venezuela and Nicaragua. To a certain extent that gives me some encouragement,’ Varadkar said of the Chilean president.
Click on the following link, https://youtu.be/3XgauTqKJOw (or see video below), to listen to the full interview with Leo Varadkar where he also speaks about Russia’s war in Ukraine and the cocaine trade.
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.