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IRELAND – Greater Flexibility Introduced to Employment Permit Procedures

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJIE) in Ireland has announced updated policies for the issuance of all categories of Employment Permits, as well as updated application forms. Many of the change are effective immediately (including for applications currently in progress) while some are due to be implemented over the course of the next six months. Broadly, the changes are positive for employers; and include more flexible salary criteria, reducing the timing required for the labour market test, expanding the list of Highly Skilled Occupations and reducing the list of Ineligible Occupations.

Update to Highly Skilled Occupations List

The Highly Skilled Occupations List (previously referred to as ‘eligible occupations list for Green Cards’), which is the list for which Green Card Employment Permit applications may be made where salary is below EUR60,000/year (but must still be above EUR30,000/year) has been broadened and updated to correlate with known shortages of key skills in the labour market.

Whereas before eligibility in respect of a particular job title was confined to a particular sector, the highly skilled eligible occupations are now permissible across all sectors in recognition that a particular skill in short supply will be experienced across all sectors which require that skill.

Much Shorter Labour Market Test

The labour market test, i.e. the requirement for advertising with the Department of Social Protection’s employment services (previously referred to as FÁS) for Work Permit applications, has been reduced from eight weeks to two weeks and the requirement to advertise in a national newspaper has been reduced to three days.

Previously there was a further requirement to advertise in a local newspaper. There is now an option to advertise in a local newspaper or on a job’s website for three days.

Note that the applications for Employment Permits under the Intra Company Transfer or Green Card routes continue to be exempt from the labour market test.

Reduction of Ineligible Categories

The Ineligible Categories of Employment for Employment Permits list of occupations has been updated to cater for particular shortages in relation to certain occupations involving the necessity of being able to communicate in a non-European Economic Area language.

Change of Status Applications Possible

Current holders of Intra Company Transfer (ICT) type Employment Permits and Contract Service Provider (CSP) type Employment Permits can now apply for other types of Employment Permit within Ireland, subject to the normal criteria.

Note that the holders of ICT and CSP Employment Permit must spend 12 months working with the original company that applied for the ICT or CSP permit. Following this, if they are eligible and fit the criteria, they may apply for a Green Card or Work Permit. The main change is that such applicants will now not have to leave the country while their application is in process.

Additionally, certain categories of non-EEA immigration permission holders, who have been offered employment in an occupation included in the Highly Skilled Occupations List will now be allowed to apply for an Employment Permit, whilst already legally residing in the State. Note that this is only applicable if the applicant/employee holds a valid stamp and GNIB card. Entering Ireland as a business visitor or for tourism reasons does not give permission to remain. i.e. the person needs to hold a Stamp 1, 1a, 2 or 3.

Adjustments to Salary Criteria

Income requirements will be based on ‘remuneration’ (may include benefits and allowances as well as salary) rather than ‘salary’ for all types of employment permits where items of remuneration are demonstrated on payslips or P60s.

Additionally, for IT graduates of foreign colleges and for technical or sales support roles with non-EEA language requirements, the remuneration threshold is reduced from the current €EUR30,000/annum to €EUR27,000/annum in respect of employment permit applications under the Work Permits category.

New Application Forms

The employment permit applications forms have been amended to reduce the requirements to submit additional documentation.

The new forms make application processes for Contract Service Provider permits (permits where the assignee is being sent to Ireland pursuant to a contract for services between his or her employer and the irish entity) much clearer.

In tandem with the new forms there will be greater focus on the random checking of employment permits by the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) to ensure adherence to the relevant legislation.

Future Changes

The second phase of changes is due to be implemented over the course of the next six months. The second phase will provide additional flexibility for Highly Skilled employees and introduce, on a pilot basis, a mechanism for atypical workers to make their case for an employment permit, as follows:

Highly Skilled Job Interview

It is envisaged that, subject to normal immigration requirements and procedures at the port of entry, permission to enter the State on a temporary basis will be granted to non-EEA nationals who have been invited by an employer based in the State to attend an interview for employment in a recognised highly skilled shortage occupation. This is currently the case. However, the changes will mean that successful interviewees will be permitted to remain in the State while applying to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation for an Employment Permit and awaiting the outcome of the application.

Atypical Working Scheme

Consideration will be given on a pilot basis to applications by persons employed in the State on a short term basis i.e. between 14 and 90 days, non-EEA nationals employed on a trial basis and other categories of employment that may not be covered by the Employment Acts.

Action Items

  • Note the new application forms, available on the DJIE website, to be used immediately
  • Note the new salary criteria, as detailed above
  • Note that the labour market test for Work Permits is now much shorter; this route may now be more attractive for many employers
  • Review the new Highly Skilled Occupation list to determine if your employees may now qualify as Highly Skilled for the purposes of Green Card or Contract Service Provider applications
  • Note that change of status applications for ICT or CSP workers to Green Card or Work Permit holders may now be processed with the applicant remaining in Ireland.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by Corporate Care Relocation

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.