AN American woman, who fell in love with the city of Cork on a one-year working visit, is hiring an immigration lawyer to see if she can secure a more permanent stay on Leeside.
Maggie Collett came to Cork on a working holiday visa in May 2017 and never wanted to leave.
She is now going to extraordinary lengths to try to make Cork her permanent home.
While here, she worked as an executive assistant in an academic department at University College Cork (UCC), but was forced to return home to the US last May after her temporary visa expired.
After six months on Leeside, Maggie fell in love with the city and decided she would like to stay in Cork, but unfortunately, her position at UCC was not one that the Government allows to be sponsored for a longer-term residency.
Maggie began looking for a company to sponsor her and over five months submitted more than 50 applications in an attempt to stay in Cork.
The young American was unable to find a sponsor and had to return to her parents in Kansas.
Now, Maggie is staying in Colorado with her brother, his wife and their 18-month old daughter and working as a customer service representative at a local start-up.
She misses Cork terribly and has taken steps to hire an immigration lawyer to see if she can come back.
“I miss my job, and UCC, and my co-workers. I miss the pubs and traditional music, and all my favourite places to eat: Boojum, Liberty Grill and Lennox’s.
“I miss how friendly people were, and how everyone wanted to chat.
“I miss walking to Tesco and walking past St Fin Barre’s Cathedral on my way to work every day.
“I miss my apartment on Hanover Street and watching the sun go down over the river off the balcony. I even miss the weather!
“I would kill to hear the music of Rearden’s thumping just one more time as I try to get to sleep at a decent hour for work the next morning!.”
Maggie said when she first moved to Ireland she had no idea she would connect so intensely with a place and a community that felt like home.
“When I first moved to Ireland, I had no plans at all. I literally landed at the Dublin Airport with one suitcase and not much money. After not even 10 days, it was clear that it wasn’t going to click in Dublin, so I moved to Cork and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
“I love everything about Cork, and having to move back to the States felt like leaving behind my home and being forced back to a place where I don’t fit in.
“I particularly love the size of Cork, and how it genuinely felt like home from the very first day. Cork is the perfect combination of feeling like a big city while also feeling completely safe, and like you know everyone. It’s home.”
Maggie said it was the people that made it.
“I was welcomed into the community immediately and never felt out of place. On my first day of work, people were dropping in to introduce themselves and chat and welcome me. Every taxi driver wanted to chat about how I ended up there.
“I’d go to the pub near my apartment and sit at the bar and hang out with the barmen on slow nights and they’d put Who Wants to Be a Millionaire on the TV for me.
“I don’t know what’s in the water in Cork, but everyone is so hospitable!”
Maggie said when she first moved back to America, she found everything a bit too much to take.
“The first few days I was back, I cried about everything.
“The toilets had too much water, there were too many options for toothpaste at the store, the light switches were different. I was a wreck!
“Things are much better now, but I still feel very out of place.”
In terms of the future, Maggie said all she wants is to come back to Cork but feels the opportunity is not there for her.
“I want to come back to Cork so badly. I’m continuing to apply for jobs but it feels like since I’m not in IT or software development, there’s no room for me.
“I’m well-educated, I’m a fast learner, and I can bring a lot to the table, but nobody will give me the chance to prove it and it’s disheartening.
“I’ve thought about coming back to work on a PhD at UCC, but with so much student loan debt from my degrees in the States, it’s just not an option right now. So, for now, my only option is to keep applying for jobs and hope for the best.”
Maggie said she has trawled Irish immigration websites and combed through every possible visa, but said she hopes an immigration lawyer may know about another way that she has not heard of.
The young professional also said it might be the insight she needs to find her way back to Cork.
“I guess on the sad side of things, maybe they could tell me with some finality that my only option is to come back for another degree.”
Despite her current situation, Maggie remains positive.
“The optimistic side of me is still convinced that I’ll be back in the next one to three years.
“If an opportunity popped up tomorrow to come back, I’d buy a plane ticket immediately and be back in Cork by next week!”